This first episode doesn’t paint a particularly flattering portrait of Hollywood: the actress wannabe cheated out of her savings by the “talent scout,” the behavior of Helene Chaney and, at least initially, of Aldritch. A seedy Hollywood inhabited by mostly less than honorable characters seems to be a common theme in the Mason series. Besides the instant episode, episodes like “Vagabond Vixen” and “Promoter’s Pillbox” come to mind. Even the final episode, “Final Fade-out,” rounds out the series on this same note. Submited by billp, 12/26/2008
This first episode certainly sets the template for the nine years to follow. The murder plot is ludicrously complex and a bit illogical, but it doesn't matter. We watch for the fine performances by a who's who of great but underappreciated actors; lessons in the esoterica of law and court procedure; but mostly we watch for the wonderful interplay of our five main performers. DOD 05/01/19
In making their case against Evelyn, the police don’t even try to explain the pillowcase on the victim’s head. DOD 05/16/20
First Impressions: Perry In Pajamas Interestingly, the first time we're introduced to Perry is at his home and he's in his pajamas; Della At The Ready we meet Della when she meets Parry at the office at 1:15AM, bringing coffee and serving it in plain china cups (NOT cups from the curious coffee set); Paul being Paul at a late night card game; Tragg being arrogant and rude. jfh 15May2020
In the courtroom scenes, observe the attractive young lady who plays the matron. She is seated behind the defence table. Now consider the actress (Nancy Hadley) who plays Edna Hammar in “Sleepwalker's Niece.” Nancy Hadley may play both roles. Anyone agree? If not Hadley, there’s someone else in the series who plays the matron. I’ve seen her before. Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.
Lee Miller who appears in this episode as a spectator also was seen in Ironside. I suspect fairly often, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a substantial number of episodes. However, I recall seeing one episode on TV a couple years ago where he was playing a policeman on the show. He was dressed just like Sgt. Brice—black suit, white shirt, dark thin tie and a somewhat rakish, dark pork-pie hat. Physically, he looked pretty much the same as he did on Mason. Particularly interesting was that Det. Sgt. Ed Brown addressed him as “Lee.” Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.
+IMDb says that Scotland-born Lee Miller appeared in 9 Ironsides: 6 uncredited & 3 credited. Mike Bedard 2.5.15.
+ Speaking of Ironside, Whitney Blake appeared in the first (broadcast) episode of Perry Mason, and the last episode of Ironside. Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 08/18/13..
The $1500 Evelyn Bagby got taken for in approximately 1957 would be about $11,048.42 in 2007 dollars. The $10,000 blackmail money stolen by Boles would be worth about $73,656.13 in 2007. I guess that’s how much Harry Merrill’s life was worth to Boles. Submitted by billp, 12/26/2008.
+ Inflation: As of 2014, whenever you hear a dollar figure mentioned in the first five years of Perry Mason, multiply it by eight to get a rough idea of the current equivalent amount. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-6-2014.
We see a bit of Perry’s apartment when he takes calls from his answering service. We also see, I think, Paul Drake’s apartment/house when he gets a call from Perry to check the serial number of the gun Evelyn found. Submitted by billp, 12/28/2008.
This show is based on a Erle Stanley Gardner novel of the same name. In the novel, in Chapter 1, the trial of Evelyn Bagby for theft, in the city of Riverside is written of. This show starts after the trial and barely references the trial. This causes some confusion as to why the man in the hood is after Evelyn, and why Perry needs to confront Helene Chaney. Not a good beginning for Perry. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 2/9/2009.
I have noticed that the entire first season of Perry (with the exception of shows # 17 and 25) is now available for viewing online at IMDb.com. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 5/14/2009.
The rotund Raymond Burr of the later episodes, and of "Ironside," could never have run the 10 yards he did in the initial office scene here. cgraul 1.30.12
+ I beg to differ: in episode 268, "The Case Of The Misguided Model" original airdate of 04/24/66, nine years later and only three episodes before the series finale, Perry runs. jfh 20Apr2018.
+ Perry also does an impressive dash when he runs after Helen as she is about to discover the body in Episode #235 TCOT Careless Kitten. Added by Dan K, 20 January 2020.
+ Paul Drake ran in front of the Brent Building to Perry who asked, "Are you training for the Olympics?" Mike Bedard 3.20.15
+ Now this first episode has both Perry and Paul running. The only thing missing is Della running in her high heels as she did in other episodes. Submitted by HamBurger 9/6/2020
The (shooting?) script for this episode is dated 22 March 1957. I believe this episode is no earlier than the third of the series filmed. (The actual call sheets would likely be useful here). “Moth Eaten Mink” was first and “Fan Dancer’s Horse“ was probably filmed before “Redhead”—or less probably, right after “Redhead.” “Fan Dancer’s Horse” wasn’t aired until about mid-season. However, its look-and-feel obviously place it as a very early episode. For “Redhead,” there was about a 6-month lag between filming and air date. Submitted by billp, 3 November 2009.
+ For a 3rd "Time Tunnel" perspective, takemeback.to/21-September-1957 FACTS section states: "Perry Mason with Raymond Burr premieres on CBS-TV.
German sailing school ship Pamir sails Atlantic Ocean. Olav V becomes King of Norway." Mike Bedard 2.5.15
- The aforementioned Pencil Mustache Man was apparently part of a cadre of extras that worked on several television shows of the 1950s and 1960s. You can see him as one of henchmen in "Alexander the Greater Part 1" in the series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." submitted by Kenmore, April 16, 2014
I rather dislike the opening credits during this first season. I understand that Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, and Ray Collins are seated in billing order, but it is totally unrealistic to seat them all at one table. Talman as the prosecutor cant even get out to walk up to the witness stand! submitted by DyNama, 7/1/2014.
Novel Oddity: In my paperback copy [Ballantine Books, Fourth Printing, December 1988] the copyright date is given as 1964. Which would be a bit of precognition considering the episode was produced in 1957! The copyright of the novel should have been 1954. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/22/14.
Sgt. Holcomb, who appears in the "Restless Redhead" novel and many others makes an appearance in this episode. Is this the only episode in which the character appears? Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 9/22/14.
+ A tv.com post states that the SH character also appeared in Fan Dancer's Horse, & was Perry's main antagonist in the Early novels before Lt. Tragg. Mike Bedard 3.20.15
+ Holcomb and Tragg often appeared together in the novels. Holcomb was the more belligerent, argumentative officer while Tragg, still on opposing sides of Perry, was more level-headed and reasonable. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 3/22/15.
The trial adjourned from the courthouse to The Scene Of The Crime in RR: in how many other episodes did that happen, other than Pint-Sized Client? Mike Bedard 3.20.15
In the novel/episode "The Case of the Curious Bride" the entire court goes to examine two adjoining apartment buildings, along with telephone rings and doorbells. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 3/22/15.
This premier episode is already a rarity in that the victim never appears. In the first office scene, Della takes coffee cups out of the credenza. This is the only time I recall that credenza being opened. The reaction shots of Perry talking to Helene Cheney at the studio show him wearing a different jacket than in the medium shots. When Evelyn hurriedly leaves her home, the convertible top is down. When she encounters the hooded driver, the top is up. DOD 05/02/19
Art Deco Cups: The coffee cups Della takes out of the credenza look to me like 1930s art deco tea cups with what are called "seven handles" (because they look like a number 7). They are white or ivory bone china with bands of gilding. Weirdly, at the end of the episode, everyone has a big ugly paper cup of coffee and Perry is about to pour from his into the beautiful porcelain tea cup. What a travesty of etiquette! I am so glad that coffee makers and carafes soon entered the series. -- catyron, Sept. 4, 2020
Tonight MeTV restarts airing the 271 episodes in order with the first episode 5 days short of the 62nd anniversary of the very first broadcast of this episode! Submitted by DyNama, 09/16/2019 rev. 12/24/2019
When Perry interviews Hellene Chaney, she has just walked out of a (studio) building and is standing at a street curb. Burr is filmed speaking while he stands against a white canvas. This view of Perry should include the street outside the building Hellene exited, and include cars, buildings, and other film studio lot detritus. Submitted by Jared 05/06/2021
+ It is later stated that the hooded motel owner chased her in order to induce her to shoot at his car. After holes were made in the car, he was going to put the body of the murder victim (already dead) in the car, drive back to the scene of the shooting, and create the impression that the Restless Redhead had shot the murder victim. Pretty far fetched. Ed Mahl 9/22/17
+ It's also made clear that the police find the hood - either on Merrill or in the car - but, as Evelyn adroitly points out (and Perry readily agrees), she wouldn't be able to identify him if he were hooded; so Boles actually works against the credibility of his scheme in planting it.(Altho a counter-argument from the police would be that Evelyn herself had planted it, to provide that very defense.) Notcom 091719.
The MeTV showing of this episode omits Perry's visit to the Eucalyptus Grove motel, which should follow just after he remarks to Miss Chaney, "Very interesting place, Riverside." This is an unfortunate omission, since two key characters and several key clues are not seen until just before the solution is revealed, and makes the whole thing seem like an unfair surprise for the audience. Net result, two and three-quarters more minutes for advertising. Whether that is true for the original syndication print or is specific to MeTV, I wouldn't know. Submitted by alan_sings, 1/30/2012
+ I too have been watching the MeTV broadcasts. The syndication cuts are infuriating. It's difficult enough following a Perry Mason episode without having sometimes crucial scenes cut out. I don't know how anyone watching the Hallmark version has any idea what's going on. And this is done so we can be assaulted with ads for catheters, reverse mortgages, Medicare, and ambulance-chasing lawyers. (What would Perry think about the ambulance-chasing lawyer ads?). Submitted by Alan Smithee, 3-7-2014.
+ The current syndication version goes from the scene with Paul outside the building to the scene with Miss Chaney with only a minor edit between, followed by the scene with Perry filing a notch on the gun. The version shown by Hallmark skipped the scene with Miss Chaney and jumps from the scene with Paul to the scene with Perry filing the gun. The motel scene is not shown in either version. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/30/12.
+ Maybe they're listening ?? Viewers like me are probably happy to see the latest MeTV (evening) offerings are less-edited versions: the motel scene is back, here, and subsequent shows have been closer to the originals as well (not sure if I agree w/ Perry's decription of Riverside though !!) Submitted by Notcom, 101315.
Perry doesn't demonstrate good firearm safety when he points the revolver at Lt. Tragg. Submitted by billp, 2 August 2012.
Episode 1 features prominent evidence about Ballistics, which derives from the Greek "to throw" & the Ballista: "an ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles [Webster's Unabr. Dict.]" "Charles Waite, a legal investigator...joined with Major Goddard...of the Ordnance Corps, Philip Gravelle, a chemist; & John Fisher, a physicist, to form a private Bureau of Forensic Ballistics in NYC...Firearms identification came to the public's attention in 1925 when The Saturday Evening Post published 2 articles called 'Fingerprinting Bullets' on Waite's work. Goddard became famous for his work identifying firearms used in the Sacco & Vanzetti case in 1927 & Chicago's St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. Goddard trained the 1st firearms expert at the FBI Laboratory, founded in 1932," apps.americanbar.org notes. Mike Bedard 3.20.15: MeTV AM re-airing.
Given that Perry presented the gun to Clanton as one that Clanton owned (using the serial number), how did Clanton expect to get away with the switch? Of course, Perry shoots the gun to confuse the police. The police should have notice new gun shots not at the original scenes and even worse take pictures days after the murder. Submitted by Perry Baby 7/30/17.
Off and RUNNING. Various comments here have discussed filming order, and the broadcast order is shown at left; but why were episodes broadcast in the order they were ?? We'll probably never know for sure the reason(s) - if there were any - but it's easy to see why this was an excellent choice for the series premiere: with the very first shot we're shown the (eventual) defendant - and what a defendant!! - and then within the next ten minutes we're introduced to Perry, Della, Paul and Lt. Tragg, we witness what seems to be "the murder", we find out that the office works at all hours and that Perry is famous throughout the Southland, to friend and foe alike....whew !! Compare this to some of the later, leisurely episodes where the killing takes place in the second half, or Perry doesn't even appear until twenty minutes in. Notcom, 080117.
OK, time is doing some weird things in this episode. At 00:28 and again at 00:50 Perry refers to the motel registration cards for April 12, when the jewelry was stolen; the first reference is when he asks to see them at the motel, the second when he refers to that visit in court. Perry also mentions, at 00:34, in his talk with Mr. Aldrich, that April 12 was the night Aldrich paid off Merrill at the motel. The murder takes place two months later (at 00:18 Miss Bagby say her failed meeting with Merrill was ”two months ago”) -- but it also occurs on April 12 !?! At 00:45 Burger says he'll prove Miss Bagby ”was in possession of the fatal gun on the night of April 12” i.e. the night of the murder. Ooops! Also, justice progressed much more quickly in those days, only two weeks after the murder they're already in court, albeit for the preliminary. all times are from a dvr recording of the episode broadcast on MeTV on 9/28/2020 OLEF641, 9/29/2020