#112: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 02/18/61
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Inventor Walter Randall wants a divorce. His icy wife Laura says no. Walter is in love with Laura's secretary, Phyllis Hudson. Laura gets back at Walter by blackmailing her embezzling accountant into building a time bomb that will destroy Walter's underwater sounding invention.
Laura's plan is actually even more diabolical: she sends Phyllis to bring the bomb in a wrapped package to the warehouse; further, Laura gets there first and clubs Phyllis unconscious just before the bomb explodes, intending murder as well as arson. But Phyllis survives the explosion-—only to be charged with Laura’s murder.
Perry agrees to defend her and stages an elaborate demonstration in the courtroom, using Paul, flying in a helicopter forty miles away, to make a key point.
Starring Raymond Burr
The Case of THE WINTRY WIFE
Based Upon Characters Created By Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Directed by Arthur Marks
Written by Samuel Newman
Seeleg Lester | Producer
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Arthur Marks | Associate Producer
Produced by The CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Jackson Gillis | Story Consultant
Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Jerome Thor as Walter Randall
Robert Karnes as Deputy D.A. Chamberlin
June Vincent as Laura Randall
Alan Hewitt as Bruce Sheridan
Marianne Stewart as Phyllis Hudson
Fredd Wayne as Roger Phillips
Jean Howell as Amelia Phillips
Barney Phillips as Mr. Johnson
Sue England as Judy Baldwin
Willis B. Bouchey as Judge
Paul Barselow as John Penner
Michael Fox as Autopsy Surgeon
Robert Bice as Second Operative
George E. Stone as Court Clerk
Rudolph Salinger as Chemist
Chuck Stroud as First Operative
Art Seid, A.C.E. | Assistant to the Producer
Production Supervisor … Dewey Starkey
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Robert G. Stone
Film Editor … Richard H. Cahoon, A.C.E.
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … William Zacha, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Sound Effects Editor … Gene Eliot, M.P.S.E.
Music Editor … Gene Feldman
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … M.E.M. Gibsone
Sound … Glen Glenn Sound Co.
Titles and Opticals … Pacific Title
Perry Mason \ A Film Presentation
A CBS Television Network Production
Anomaly: Paul Barselow, listed as John Penner, is called Ben Penner by Amelia Phillips and Deputy D.A. Chamberlin in court. [Submission date unknown]
Character Names: Not anomalous, but related. For the first time, we see the door to the deputy D.A.’s office, and that his full name is Victor Chamberlin. Additionally, the Autopsy Doctor’s name is, presumably, Hoxie, although it is never used, but golden-voiced Michael Fox keeps playing this same role. Submitted by gracep 11/4/2010.
This show is the beginning of Part 2 of the 4th season, as sold on CBS DVDs. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 3 January 2010.
Continuity Error: When Phyllis Hudson bursts into Mason’s offices after the explosion and fire, she is wearing no coat. When Paul drives her to the house to retreive some of her effects, she has acquired a coat from somewhere. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 22 January 2010.
+ Maybe it's Della's. She's not wearing one, and is more warmly dressed in her suit than Phyllis is in her light blouse. As a lady, Della would have insisted Phyllis wear hers as far as the house, where they were going to get some "things" for Phyllis to stay with Della. OLEF641 12/12/16
Sightings: The Thin Man is particularly busy in this episode, appearing in three separate roles. He is one of Paul’s operatives in the street huddle when Paul sends them to check chemist shops. Later, he is in uniform at the wheel of the Harbor Patrol launch that takes Tragg and Chamberlin out to Walter Randall’s research boat. Still later, he is a spectator in court, seated next to the door on the prosecution side. Read more about him and other frequently seen people here. Submitted by alan_sings, 9 Oct 2010.
+ Even more regulars turn up in the courtroom. Next to the Thin Man sits the Quiet Old Man (#1), and next to him, the beloved Little Old Lady in a Hat. Across the aisle, we find Distinguished Gentleman #1. “Miss Carmody” also appears as a courtroom spectator, and then during the wrap-up she reemerges as a waitress serving Della and Paul’s table. So many favorite frequent faces! Submitted by gracep, 11/4/2010.
+ + The Distinguished Gentleman #1 gets a credit as the chemist. He is easy to spot (see the picture above) as we have seen him from every angle both with and without his toupee. This is confirmed in Jim Davidson's Perry Mason Book. This is not only his only credit on the show but the only acting credit of his career... and we don't even see his face. Bill767, 1/3/16.
+ + + Hiding in Plain Sight: Three cheers for Bill767. I had given up hope of ever identifying DG#1. Very thorough research -- a real PM breakthrough. Although it looks as though knowing his name (Rudolph Salinger) will not do us much good, as there is not much information out there on him ... JohnK, 4 January 2016
+ + + + Rudolph “Rudy” Salinger (Distinguished Gentleman #1) also has two named roles in other episodes -- as a waiter and as an elevator operator -- in both of which his character name is Rudy. Submitted by catyron, March 10th, 2021. I'm watching an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show in which the Rob Petrie character sits on a jury, and one of his jurymates is none other than Rudy Salinger! Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 12/8/22
For the second episode in a row, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) does not appear in the wrap-up scene, leaving Paul and Della to explain it all for us. Submitted by gracep, 11/4/2010.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think that the restaurant patron behind Della and Paul in the epilogue just might be sipping from a curious coffee cup. Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 5/24/2011.
CARS. (1) Behind Amelia and Roger Phillips in the Garage Scene is their 1956 Dodge Custom Royal 4-Door Sedan, white/medium, the 3rd '56 Dodge to appear in 3 consecutive episodes.
- (2) Laura Randall drives to the warehouse in her 1960 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan (4Door), Lic No TJD 598, dark color. Ford made Fairlane its "no frills" base model line in 1960.
- (3) Paul drives Della & Phyllis to the Randall's in his black 1960 Thunderbird Convertible, top down. Upon arrival, they find that the Randall house is a Murder Scene.
- (4) Parked in front of the Randall house is a 1961 Ford Fairlane 4-Door Sedan Police B&W. This same car appeared in Ep#110.
- (5) Behind the Police Fairlane is the nose of a large white luxury car. It's almost certainly a 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V, the same make/year & color car that Perry drove in ep#s 109 & 110. But Perry is not here (he's gone to the warehouse)! Since Tragg has been using big (black) high-end cars for quite some time, maybe this car is meant as his.
- (1+) For no reason at all, Roger's '56 Dodge is across the street from the Murder Scene, beyond Cars (4) and (5). Roger is not here and he doesn't live across the street (the dialogue at Laura's dinner-table early in the ep tells us this).
White Lincolns have served as Perry's car in many previous episodes. The Lincoln's presence says "Perry's here!" - but it wasn't his car this time. The '56 Dodge was linked to Roger Phillips in the earlier Garage Scene. Its presence at the Murder Scene could cause some viewers to pick up an unintended & spurious "clue" about Roger. Cars (5) & (1) should not have appeared at the Murder Scene. Paisano's '61 Buick Electra 4-Door HardTop could have been used instead of the Lincoln (it appears again in Ep#117) and the scene could have been done without the Dodge or any other car across the street. Added by Gary Woloski, 10/26/12.
Martian Sighting ? This episode features Barney Phillips who we all remember as Haley the Bartender (third eye hidden in cap) in the Twilight Zone episode: "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" (1961) - Submitted by HamBurger, 8/10/2014
+ Since the setting of that episode was a diner not a bar calling him a bartender doesn't appear to be accurate. I don't know exactly what I would call him but the book The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree calls him a soda jerk. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 8/16/14.
+ Well the inaccuracy resides with IMDb as he is listed as "Haley the Bartender" there. If someone sees the credits in this episode they can inform us as to his real casting name. - Submitted by HamBurger, 09/13/2014
+ Don't believe everything you see at IMDb. That site is a good reference source but there are many omissions and mistakes (one seen above). The Phillips character [a Venusian not a Martian] was called (Mr.) Haley in one scene. In his closing remarks Rod Serling called him a "counter-man". In the story there was no soda fountain and no alcohol in the Hi-Way Cafe. Zicree's description of the character is inaccurate. I have Zicree's book and every episode of The Twilight Zone - all three versions. Enough about that - this is a PERRY MASON web site. Added by H. Mason 11/11/14
Hit...er, acting for the cycle This is the fourth (of five) of June Vincent's appearances; so far she has been an accomplice, uninvolved party (not even suspected for a minute!), murderess, and, now, victim...will she ever get to be the defendant? She's got one chance left ...Go Girl !! Submitted by Notcom, 120115.
This is the second of four PM appearances for Alan Hewitt. He was a Dartmouth graduate, and some of his personal papers were donated to Dartmouth...MikeM. 9/5/2016
This is the third of five PM appearances for Sue England, who appeared in six episodes of the television series Bracken's World...MikeM. 12/12/2016
I'm very curious about something. Is it a prerequisite for all DA's in LA to be over-zealous, arrogant fools who can NEVER be wrong, but always are? Every substitute for Ham Burger tries to act just like him, as if he's the best DA ever. Of course, they always lose just like Ham Burger as well :p . Submitted by Arisia, 03/13/18
The piece of electronic equipment seen on the boat is an Eico model 368 TV-FM Sweep Generator & Marker, circa 1958. It was used in the alignment of TV sets and FM radios. Notice there is a knob missing on the left side. Submitted by Kilo 6/13/2018.
One would think that the Los Angeles Port Police would know better than to come within 300 feet of a boat supporting a diver, particularly since Walter Randall is using a standard diving dress that completely depends on an airline and lifeline. In reality, the LAPP would have stopped at a safe distance and ordered the boat to bring Randall up, and then approached. Submitted by vgy7ujm, 7 November 2021
I OBJECT During the first day of the preliminary hearing, after the prosecution moves to bind the defendant over for trial, Perry objects (of course). His grounds? "The defense has been given no opportunity to present a case challenging the *credulity* or accuracy of the prosecution's evidence." Say what?!? We are accustomed to the scriptwriters mixing up the words "imply" and "infer", but CREDULITY for credibility? I give Burr a pass; he was overworked and sleep-deprived, so it slipped past him. Shame on the writers and producers, though, for making Perry sound so ignorant! Submitted by JazzBaby, 9/5/2019.
SUSTAINED as I've commented a number of times, I generally don't see a wrongness in failing to re-shoot scenes containing minor faux pas; whether a deliberate decision or not, the fact that the performers (apparently) didn't notice suggests their characters wouldn't have noticed either...hence - and somewhat paradoxically - the blemish actually adds to the realism. But this seems excessive: in a court filled with professionals versed in parsing language, surely someone would comment...dare we say it tests our credulity ?? Notcom, 090619.
The $250k that Walter is to get for his invention would be just over $2 million today (2021) OLEF641 3/3/21
A good episode, the whole “Wintry Wife” angle is wonderful. It would have been better if they'd handled the technology involved differently. Generally I think the Perry Mason series (or any series, past or present) makes a mistake anytime it gives too much detail on “technology” unless they’re prepared to spend a lot of money on the mock-up, computer animation or what-not. Otherwise it tends to date the episode. Another problem is that the technology depicted risks looking ludicrous with the passage of time and thus a distraction to the story. It’s better to just give some vague impression of the technology and let the viewer’s imagination do the rest. Instead of letting us see the “sounding device,” it would have been better to just show Walter pushing some undefined object into the crate, etc. Imagination is always current. Well, unless the technology at issue is something like the automobile or light bulb or garage door openers. Really, it’s best to avoid technological references altogether. In the series’ defense, I‘m sure not in their wildest dreams did they imagine people would be watching Perry Mason 50-plus years later. Submitted by billp, 13 December 2009.
+ Yes, but I'd think many viewers might make allowances for the passage of time (the black-and-white format for almost all episodes is a good clue, after all how many current shows aren't in color?). I got a kick out of Paul Drake using the description "transistorized" when referring to the garage door opener...which to me itself is a bit dated...even if it is the case, how many people refer to devices this way? They did have garage openers before transistors (such as in the movie "They Drive by Night) which came out in 1940 before it was even invented) and you would probably like that they didn't go into detail about their operation in that movie, but also the operation was incidental to the plot (no one was mentioned as inventor for the opener in the movie).We might say "electronic" as opposed to "mechanical" control, but for most items (other than maybe high power items and special amplifiers) most electronics these days involves transistors (maybe in the form of integrated circuits) or at least diodes. You have a point, probably almost no show can predict how popular it might be (whether it will be replayed years later) but I'd guess that's probably the last of the editor's concerns. There are other things (like changes in phrases, how people speak, fashion, etc.) that likewise date the show. I find it adds to my enjoyment, to see how much and in which ways things have changed since the show was produced (maybe because I'm a technical viewer) where appropriate to the plot. Submitted by zwep, 5 December 2023.
Notice that after all that dramatic buildup, we never do see the valve actually open and close by remote control.
The plot device of our murderer needing to be the first on the scene to remove incriminating evidence may have been influenced by Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder of Roger Ackroyd’. DOD 09/21/18
The jailhouse scene with Perry and Phyllis never shows the two of them in the same shot. I wonder if, for scheduling expedience, their bits were filmed separately then spliced together. DOD 12/05/23
+ The countdown to the demonstration in the courtroom had a 60's tech angle to it, and it still manages to build tension today. For me, anyway. JohnK, 30 December 2015
Is it just me or does anyone else think that Private Detective Penner looks a lot like the little old man in the Six Flags commercials? I suppose it could be possible, because IMDB says Paul Barselow is still living at 87 years of age. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 22 January 2010.
+I don't know about that, but Mr. Barselow’s voice sounded very much like that of Wally Cox! Close your eyes and listen for yourself! Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 5/24/2011.
The Summary above is incorrect. Laura deliberately sent Phyllis to the warehouse, to deliver (unbeknownst) the bomb, and lay in wait for her. The eponymous Wintry Wife was tring to kill two birds with one stone, as it were. Submitted by gracep, 11/4/2010.
+I also was annoyed by the inaccurate plot summary. I've taken it upon myself to correct this summary, as I have several earlier ones. Submitted by 10yearoldfan, 12 October 2012.
+ As the plot summaries are credited as having come from a published work, it is better to leave them as they are and correct them in the comments section, as others have. Submitted by francis,9/12/14.
Perry and Della work late on drafting corporate documents. Interestingly, Paul Drake is also there. Doesn't he have anything better to do with his late nights than watch Perry draft boring documents? cgraul 10.6.11
I have noticed that too, over many episodes, Perry works late and people stay up late--working or arranging social visits at 9:00 or 10:00 at night. Maybe I come from a very un-sophisticated background, but no one would ever work that late on routine business or come by that late for a social call. --yelocab 14FEB19
In the sum-up, Paul uses the phrase "Deadly Device;" might that have been the original title of the episode? cgraul 10.6.11
Interesting - when Perry is in the DA's office, and in the following scene when he sees Phyllis in jail, the camera cuts back and forth from Perry to the other characters; they are never shown in the same shot. Also, in the courtroom scenes, there are several shots of the DA next to the witnesses, but none of Perry. We do briefly see Perry from behind as he addresses Tragg, and two oblique views of him (one with what sounds like a dubbed voice) that could be his double. Burr could easily have filmed all his bits separately. That, plus his absence from the summation scene, makes one wonder if there were some scheduling problems. Also, we get not one but three rare swipe transitions. DOD 09/21/18
If Mrs. Phillips thought her husband and Laura were in a plot of some kind the detective should have followed Laura when she left the house. Laura could have been going to meet Roger. Having the detective watch the house when Laura wasn't there didn't make much sense. Submitted by H. Mason 11/6/14
Would a radio transmitter that small have worked from 35+ miles away? Leaving the gas on would have also risked an explosion and fire when Phyllis might have been in the house. He would at least have given Phyllis something to do outside the house to give her an alibi. But, ignoring those issues, it made for an interesting plot device. --yelocab 14FEB19
TCOT Dubious Demo Frequently Prosecutors on PM complain about his turning the proceedings into "a circus"; here, tho, it seems like the point is valid: after spending considerable effort (and what must have been an astronomical amount of money in hiring a helicopter) on the demonstration, Perry announces that it couldn't have happened that way..the batteries were being charged. (Not some sudden revelation, the witness to it had already been secured). So why go to all the effort, when a simpler, safer experiment from a shorter distance would have made more sense ?? Indeed, the experiment would have backfired altogether if 35 miles ended up being out-of-range. Hmmm, Notcom 021820.
+I may have an answer. The most obvious point is 'dramatic effect' and it acts as a red herring for the audience. But another point is Paul states in the epilogue that Sheridan and his girlfriend were up on Mulholland Drive when he turn off and then turned on the gas which implies he was at least a few miles away.
By demonstrating that the transmitter worked from 40 miles away, it would make it easy to believe that Sheridan could have done it as well. Plus, it helps that Sheridan was caught off guard and ready to roast his buddy when Perry turns the tables on him. Submitted by Kenmore 7/27/2021.
++I’m sure that Perry knew a helicopter pilot who owed him a favor and was happy to make it available. ;). Submitted by Rickapolis 11/03/21
+ Deus ex Machina - literally Personally I thought the explanation of the murder was ridiculous and unbelieveable. But overall I did like the episode. I have only rewatched about a thrid of the episodes recently, but I can't imagine a more dispicable victim than Laura. A monster. Rick P 12/19/21