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#200: The Case of the
Fifty Millionth Frenchman
Original Airdate: 02/20/64
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
Sixties heartthrob David (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) McCallum plays Phillipe, a Frenchman who has fallen for a married woman. She gets him to bankroll her separation from her violently abusive husband, but Phillipe learns later that the husband took the money to buy into a ski resort deal. Phillipe tries to confront the cad on the slopes but is unsuccessful, and despondently returns to Los Angeles. The husband is not so lucky: He’s killed when his plane crashes. Seems his blood was loaded with barbiturates. When the police suspect that the Frenchman doctored the coffee in the dead man’s thermos, Phillipe finally smartens up and gets Perry as his lawyer.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE FIFTY MILLIONTH FRENCHMAN
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins
Directed by Arthur Marks
Teleplay by Robert C. Dennis, Jackson Gillis, and Samuel Newman
Story by Robert C. Dennis
Arthur Marks / Art Seid | Producers
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Jackson Gillis | Associate Producer
Samuel Newman | Story Consultant
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Wesley Lau as Lt. Anderson
Music Composed by Rene Garriguenc
Conducted by Lud Gluskin
David McCallum as Phillipe Bertain
Jacques Bergerac as Armand Rovel
Roxane Berard as Ninette Rovel
Janet Lake as Carole Ogilvie
Jackie Coogan as Ron Litten
Coleen Gray as Linda Sutton
Don Collier as Peter Hayes
Arthur Franz as Ray Ogilvie
Naomi Stevens as Mrs. Kransdorf
Gene O'Donnell as Prosecutor
Tom Greenway as Dick Jenkins
Stuart Randall as Sheriff Max Taylor
Kenneth Patterson as Judge
Lisa Davis as Girl Skier
Clark Howat as Tower Man
Jacques Bergerac makes his only Perry appearance here playing Armand Rovel. Mr. Bergerac made numerous television appearances in the 60s, usually playing a Frenchman, but he is probably best known for being the fourth husband of Ginger Rogers. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 14 October 2009.
Sightings: “Miss Carmody” appears at the airport infirmary as a nurse administering first aid to grieving widow Roxane Berard. Submitted by FredK, 20 Nov 2010.
+ In the courtroom gallery we find Distinguished Gentleman #1 sitting near the aisle, and Quiet Old Man #1 hiding in the back row on the other side. Submitted by gracenote, 3/11/2011.
Mr. McManus, the deceased manager of the lodge, is named after George McManus, the cartoonist who created BRINGING UP FATHER, a classic comic strip. ...28/02/2018 by Red Chief
This is the only PM appearance for Janet Lake, whose third husband is football player/coach/administrator Franklin "Pepper" Rodgers...MikeM. 4/25/2018
Was McCallum actually a heartthrob a few decades ago as the Summary describes? He’s kind of cute, but…. Submitted by gracenote, 3/11/2011.
I think so, Gracenote. I remember when he was on 'The Man From UNCLE' and the girls did indeed swoon over him. These were mostly pre-teen, or early teen aged girls, but he was VERY popular among that set. And he still has a following as Ducky on 'NCIS' Submitted by Rickapolis 09/26/2012
McCallum was sometimes referred to as "the fifth Beatle" because he was so popular (and had a mop top like the Beatles did). Remember, in The Man From UNCLE he didn't wear glasses and play a hapless wimp, but a secret agent who could take care of himself. His popularity I think came as a surprise to the producers of the show, who thought he'd just be a minor character at first. He reminds me of Leonard Nimoy on Star Trek, whose popularity overshadowed that of the main star, William Shatner. Neither McCallum or Nimoy had that leading-man quality, but I think that helped endear them to a lot of people. Submitted by scarter, 3/30/2015
+Another example that immediately comes to mind is Henry Winkler in Happy Days. Added by H. Mason 3/30/15
McCallum's cringeworthy "French" accent comes and goes throughout this episode, from sentence to sentence. Couldn't he have instead played, for example, a gormless Glaswegian? He could have met other characters in the bookstore. But he's still going strong, now with 220+ weekly episodes as Ducky. Also, a hearty hello to Coleen Gray, who turned 90 on October 23! Submitted by masonite, 12/4/12.
Sorry, but the idea of murder by avalanche is a bit wacky. The term "50 million Frenchmen" is taken from one of Sophie Tucker's better known "racy" (at least for the time) songs. DODay 1/11/18
Hallmark Movie Channel has apparently restored commercials to the original break points. For a week or two, they had been cutting for commercials in mid-scene. Submitted by MikeM, 9/26/2012
Why is this episode TCOT Fifty Millionth Frenchman? Phillipe (and isn't Philippe a much more common French name?) tells Perry and Paul (around 35:27 on the 2012 Paramount DVD), "How could I admit that I am not like those 50 million other Frenchmen who know all about women?" Phillipe sounds more to me like the 50,000,001st Frenchman. lowercase masonite, 3/22/16.
+ The problem with the semantics is actually much worse than that: although the writers were presumably trying to allude to the 1930ish Play/movie (an allusion which must have been already a stretch in 1964, but is totally lost today) they overlooked the fact that while France has Fifty-Million Frenchmen - i.e. inhabitants - only half of them are men. But would the title TCOT Twenty-Five Millionth - or Twenty-Five Million and First - Frenchman have worked ??? Probably not. Submitted by Notcom, 033116.
Phillipe: Please pay attention Mister Mason
Perry: I will do my best.
This is one of my least liked episodes. I found the phont French accents annoying. However, the show seems to have a more modern vibe in hair styles. It is getting well into the 60's now. Submitted by Perry Baby 9/21/16.
After the crash, Andy shows to Perry an empty pill bottle (26:34 on the 2012 Paramount DVD). Why wouldn't Perry have mentioned the pill bottle to the DA, before the preliminary hearing, as a possible way to have had Armand ingest the barbiturates? I didn't see any proof during the hearing that the barbiturates had to have been in the coffee. lowercase masonite, 3/22/16.
+ As becomes clear during the episode, Ninette and Armand worked together to con Phillipe out of the $5000. During the trial, however (at 46:15 on the 2012 Paramount DVD), Perry called the con a badger game. Wikipedia's description of the badger game is here. I don't see how the chump Phillipe was involved in a badger game. Ninette convinced Phillipe to hand over the money apparently in return for a promise to marry him later. He could have sued for a "breach of promise" suit, I suppose, had such a suit been possible. Speaking of which, that suit is in the entertaining 1975 movie Love Among the Ruins, which takes place in the Edwardian era. lowercase masonite, 3/22/16.
++ I'm going to speculate here, and I think Perry's comments about the 'badger game' was his take on it, not necessarily what the Rovels' were up to. I wouldn't put it past the poisonous Ninette to use Armand's finding her and Phillipe together as a way of squeezing cash out of him, if it came to that. Oh, when a man doesn't think with his brains ... Submitted by MikeReese, 4/9/2016