This is one of my favorite episodes, with its plot of Agatha Christiean ingenuity regarding the clearing of a convicted murder in the beginning resulting in further consequences of blackmail and murder in the middle and a surprise at the end. Submitted by FredK, October 12, 2009.
The Christie comparison is apt; in her book "Ordeal by Innocence", a man returns to England after several years absence and confirms the alibi of a convicted murderer. DOD 09/05/18
When Roger opens the door to admit Perry, we get a glimpse of a neighboring ranch house that does not exist in the exterior shots. Look behind Faye when she visits the D.A.’s office - there’s Perry’s table lamp.
Lyle Talbot and Stephen Talbot are the only parent/child actors to appear on PM. DOD 09/19/19
+ Lyle and Stephen Talbot also both appear in Leave It To Beaver. Stephen was a semi-regular, as Beaver's best friend Gilbert Bates, while I believe Lyle Talbot only made two appearances.
Lyle Talbot was a highly prolific actor in all sorts of movies and TV, born in 1902 and keeping it going until 1987 on Newhart. He also figured in Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Stephen Talbot had a few tv gigs as a youngster, but as an adult went behind the camera as an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer and writer of public tv documentaries, and was a journalist too. JohnK, 2 November 2022
The casting in this episode has always bothered me somewhat. When I first saw it after some years I was led to expect something completely different. Coleen Gray and Ralph Clanton are supposed to be sister and brother: she a poor but honest secretary who became the boss’s wife and widow and he a man with a shady past. It should be plausible given their actual ages at the time—Miss Gray 38 and Clanton 46. But in the story, Lorraine Kendall is supposed to be about 30, and Clanton, though fit and spry, with his graying, thinning hair could easily play a man some years older. For me the relationship looks suspicious. Maybe someone a bit younger looking such as Casey Adams/Max Showalter should have played the shifty brother, and Clanton should have been the blackmailer. Submitted by FredK, 12 October 2009.
Though we get the usual wonderfully alliterative title, in this case the meaning isn’t clear. As far as I can see the widow does no wandering, physical, mental or spiritual. Submitted by FredK, 12 October 2009.
+ The title may come from the fact that Lorraine’s exact whereabouts were unknown at the time of both murders—that of her husband, six years earlier, and that of the blackmailer, Burt Stokes. This is mentioned to Perry by her brother when Perry arrives at the Kendall home. Submitted by Fifty-Niner, 4 June 2011.
In my opinion, at least in this episode, actor Dean Harens bears a striking resemblence to a younger George W. Bush (who was only about 14 years old at the time of this episode.) Harens, who appeared in four Perry Mason episodes between 1959 and 1965, was married to June Dayton, who appeared in five episodes between 1957 and 1965. IMDb lists another actor by the same name who has one credit, a 1960 appearance in The Real McCoys. It is probable that this is the same Dean Harens. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 4/18/14
To Be or Knot to Be: In the final scene, Perry mentions that he found it suspicious that one of the shoelaces of the corpse (a sailor) was tied in a granny knot. The Kendall boy adds "instead of a square knot!" No one, including a sailor, would tie his shoelace with a square knot, which is not exactly a snap to untie, especially when tightened! Most humans (perhaps excluding some scriptwriters) use the shoelace knot (bow knot) for this purpose. Submitted by francis, 8/30/14.
RE: the above comment: A properly tied bow IS a square knot. You can also tie a bow improperly (as, apparently, many people do) as a granny knot. KGarrett 1/30/2016
+ Perry says "both of his shoelaces had been broken and retied". So the granny knot refers to the knot used to tie the two pieces back together, not the bow. Kilo 12/4/2019.
Columbo lassoed an arrogant Robert Conrad with a similar shoelace clue in "A Exercise in Fatality" from 1974. Joe B. 4/18/19.
Gotcha!! After the revelation of the "knotty" issue (see above) this dialogue is heard:
"A square knot: gee Mr. Drake, how come you didn't notice that ?? You're supposed to be the detective.
(Off Camera) "Jimmy!!
"Well, he IS."
Out of the mouths of babes... Submitted by Notcom, 111815.
Question: Did Perry read a transcript of the first trial or was it deemed unnecessary? Submitted by H. Mason 11/3/14
Tragg is awfully casual about arresting murder suspects. When he showed up to arrest Lorraine Kendall he simply says to her "Mrs. Kendall, if you please" then exits leaving her behind with Perry. Submitted by Kilo 6/2/2018.
Ralph Clanton, who played Roger McClaine, is best known to MST3K fans for the short Out of This World (1954). A promotional film about an angel and a devil (Clanton) fighting over the soul of a bread truck driver. As hilarious as that sounds, Clanton hams it up pretty good. Submitted by Kenmore 10/03/2020.