#16: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 01/04/58
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Nadine Marshall confesses to all the details of a murder while under a drug-aided hypnosis session with her doctor. The doctor seeks Perry’s advice on what to do with the recording of Nadine’s confession. Perry knows what not to do with it. He doesn’t want to see it in the hands of Burger or Tragg until he investigates his hunch that the girl is really innocent.
Christine White as Nadine
Clem Bevans as Capt. Hugo
Fay Baker as Marian Newburn
Walter Coy as Lester Newburn
Barry Atwater as Dr. Denair
Sherwood Price as John Locke
Alexander Campbell as 'Uncle Martin' Wellman
Morris Ankrum as Judge
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Maurice Manson as Dr. Granby
Steven Geray as Korbell
Joe Mell as Stand Owner
Paul Hahn as Ballistics Man
Ashley Cowan as Messenger
John Mitchum as Operative
Jack Harris as Court Clerk
Lida Piazza as Miss Wilson
Rickie Sorensen as Arthur Lindner
Leilani Sorensen as Small Girl
CARS: 1957 Cadillac convertible, black w/ black & white int., top down (Mason), Late 50s Austin-Healey 100-6, top down. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
+ The Austin-Healey 100 being driven by Nadine's boyfriend John, then disappearing around the corner. Seconds later Perry and Della depart the scene. GW, 10 Apr 2012.
Being obviously driven on the studio lot. Apparently they didn't trust him to avoid that delivery truck on a real street. And why would there be such large block buildings next to a strip-mall grocery store? Pretty lazy, right? cgraul 7.29.2016.
+ John Locke has, among other things, a loaf of Wonder bread in one of his grocery sacks. jfh 17Sep2018
It may be a miracle, but Paul turns down food. When Perry and Della are busy preparing a celebratory dinner—for two if the table service is correct—Paul shows no interest in what’s being prepared. He must have been sick or worried about Perry’s hijinks….Submitted by Dedra Kaye, 3/21/2008.
+ LOL!!! But on the MeTV version, Perry is cramming a hot dog and does not move "at all" when the kid who finds the bottle in the lake screams to him that he found it! ;-> Submitted by mesave31, 04/10/15.
++ Perry's Apartment: Della and Perry are preparing their celebratory dinner at Perry's place. jfh 11May2018
Perry is wearing in a VERY light colored suit when visiting Lester Newburn and discussing the "other bottle" (and also Marian comes in). It just stood out, so I had to add this! ;-> Submitted by mesave31, 04/10/15.
Sightings: Distinguished Gentleman #1 is the court reporter. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 11, 2016
Continuity: In the courtroom scene near the end, Perry picks up the pen holder containing the buckshot from off the Judge’s desk to examine it. While Perry is holding the pen holder the camera cuts to a shot of the Judge and the pen holder has magically re-appeared on the Judge’s desk. Next shot is of Perry and he is still holding the pen holder. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 5/27/2008.
Double Duty: As Perry drives his Eldorado into Logan City, he takes out his handkerchief and mops up some perspiration. How hot was it? It was so hot that in the next shot it’s actually Lee Miller behind the wheel. Submitted by Francis, 1/8/2012.
+ The scene a few seconds after Perry mops his brow. Is that the back of Burr's or Miller's head in the Caddy? GW, 10 Apr 2012.
++ It looks like Miller to me driving the Caddy. Submitted by Perry Baby 11/18/14.
In jail, Perry asks Nadine "You still believe you could have inherited that 'bad seed'? In the 1956 film version of the novel The Bad Seed concerning the same subject matter, William Hopper portrayed the father of the title character. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/05/12.
In the closing credits, only the names of the teleplay writers (Ben Brady and Richard Grey) are completely capitalized. All other names, including Raymond Burr, use lower-case letters as well. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/05/12.
Not sure of the exact technology of the day, but I assume the main cast had a standard card that was used to create the credits (no need to re-create it for every episode), and the one for the writers, directors and cast had to be created for each episode. Some typesetter didn't check and put the writer's names in all caps. --yelocab 29OCT19
Other cast appearances: Joe Mell appeared in the first Star Trek pilot (in a scene with Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike) and also in The Twilight Zone episode "Dead Man's Shoes." Barry Atwater got to wear pointy ears on Star Trek playing Vulcan Surak in "The Savage Curtain" and also appeared on The Twilight Zone in "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street." He also played a vampire in the original The Night Stalker TV-Movie. Christine White played William Shatner's wife on The Twilight Zone in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/05/12.
+ "Joseph Mell had an Uncredited role as a Trader in TOS: 'The Cage.' He filmed his scenes on Dec. 4, 1964 at Desilu Culver Stage 15," en.memory-alpha.org/wiki states. Mike Bedard 4.10.15
++ The person in the Twilight Zone episode "What You Need" was Ernest Truex, and *not* Joseph Mell. However, Joseph Mell portrayed Dave the florist on the Father Knows Best episode "Betty Hates Carter".
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (circa 1969), the product saccharin is spelled without an e at the end. Saccharine, an adjective, means "Of, relating to, or of the nature of sugar or saccharin; sweet" or "Having a cloyingly sweet attitute, tone or character." Saccharine is pronounced the same as saccharin or with a long i sound in the last syllable. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/06/12.
Syndication cuts: Nadine in the hospital taping her confession; Lt. Tragg waiting at Mason's and taking the tape and recorder from Della [Gertie is completely cut out of this episode]; Mason throwing stones into a pond [a fact referrenced by Paul later], offering a boy and girl $5 to find a bottle, buying a hot dog and being recognized by the stand owner; Perry wiping his brow on the drive to Logan City [see Double Duty above]; Burger's remarks to the jury. Additional Hallmark cuts: The conversation between Marion and Lester after she says "Please, Lester, I just can't take anymore."; Dr. Locke's entire testimony; the judge warning the jury not to discuss the case and the jury leaving [in the original, the judge's line "The jury will be excused while the court considers this objection" is shown with a close-up on the judge; in the Hallmark version, the line is dubbed over a long shot showing the jury and the scene ends and fades out.] Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/06/12.
This is the second episode (so far) that features a young woman butting heads with her evil uncle over marriage. The first was Ep#5. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3/27/14.
"TCOT Demure Defendant" Bookcover appears in the "Perry Mason Wikipedia" article. Mike Bedard 4.11.15 (it's hanging on my wall beneath my Perry Mason switchplate).
Right after Lester and Marian are talking with Uncle Martin upstairs they come down to the kitchen. Marian is shown next to the stove, fiddling with/sniffing the two bottles (saccharine & cyanide). To the viewer this is a strong "set-up" making it look as if she is planning to poison Uncle Martin. In the final court-room scene Marian screams, "I didn't do it -- I didn't do it" (poison Martin). The kitchen/court-room scene is central to this episode and is very well presented.
When Arthur dives in to find the bottle he puts his goggles on. But soon as he hits the water they fall down around his neck. He swims on like a trooper, though. Submitted by Kilo 3/6/2018.
Without goggles, it's hard to see clearly underwater--even in a crystal-clear pool. With googles, in a pool, I can see clearly several lanes over. Without googles, everything is blurry. It would be hard to find a bottle in a lake without goggles. --yelocab 29OCT19
> Or even with them: sub-surface vision in the clear, filtered water of a light colored pool is one thing, in the murky water of a mud-bottomed lake is quiet another; much of the searching would be by feel rather than sight and I submit that without a more precise idea of the location, finding a small plastic bottle would be virtually impossible. Notcom, 102020.
+++ A petty quibble, but in 1958 the bottle almost certainly would have been glass. Also, in the scene where the boy and Susie are bobbing up and down after the bottle his goggles are back where they belong. OLEF641 10/20/2020
This is the first of two PM appearances for Fay Baker, who made the LA Times bestseller list with a novel under the pen name Beth Holmes. Using her own name, Baker wrote a memoir describing her battle with breast cancer...MikeM. 5/11/2018
One of the few times that the identity of the murderer is not revealed until the final scene. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 6/26/2008.
+ Isn’t this actually typical of Perry Mason? Queried by gracep, 1/14/2011.
++ In most episodes, the murderer is revealed in the penultimate scene. The final scene usually takes place in Perry's office where everyone discusses the case, wraps up loose ends, and cracks a joke or two. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 1/26/2011.
Although his appearance is brief, Uncle Martin (Wellman) as played by Alexander Campbell is one of the most despicable characters ever on Perry Mason in my opinion. Often in the Perry Mason series, the viewer finds himself conflicted over the resolution of the case. The viewer wants the (presumed innocent) defendant to go free, but doesn’t really want the culprit named. Why? Because the victim was such a reptile, we sympathize with the killer. I consider this tension one of the strengths of the show. Submitted by billp, 1/1/09.
'Uncle Martin's' torture of his niece is based on the still debated idea that intelligence and behaviour are inherited characteristics, and that genetics are inevitable. Not necessarily, since nutrition and environment also play a factor. His attempt to frighten her out of marriage (and one wonders why he cared, but he is, as 'billp' said above, 'despicable'). The now disinherited field of human eugenics, that dated well before WW2 (and in the US) suggested that selective breeding could eliminate 'feeble minded', and 'criminal insanity' from humankind (and, shamefully, certain races). Science fiction writer C.M. Kornbluth wrote two acclaimed stories revolving around this idea, "The Marching Morons", and "Little Black Bag". Describing a future where the stupid had outbred the intelligent ..submitted by MikeReese, 6/9/2012.
Addendum: while it could be said that times have not changed for the better, nowadays, there is one thing, in my opinion, that is a positive change - to borrow the words of another character in a PM episode, the niece would have told Uncle Martin to 'go fly'!! .. submitted by MikeReese, 8/19/2017.
A superior episode, with a satisfying mix of fancy legal footwork and an Agatha Christie-ish use of misdirection. That curved staircase makes its third appearance; at some point the same balusters and newel will be reconfigured into a staircase with a landing that will be one of the most used, if not overused, sets later in the series. The first appearance of the familiar courtroom set with the wood paneled walls, in place of a somewhat less grand room with stone-like walls. That large planter in Perry’s office was in Della’s office three episodes back (Moth Eaten Mink). Distinguished Gentleman has moved from the gallery to the court reporter's desk.
These early shows generally avoid the plot holes we’ve come to expect in later shows, but the doctor’s testimony confuses me. He first assumed Martin succumbed to heart disease, but his autopsy disproved that. Apparently the body was then quickly embalmed without the actual cause of death being determined. DOD 05/11/18
The killer should have just slipped him the saccharin. He could have gotten cancer according to modern-day product warnings! Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/06/12.
Was Lt. Tragg's first name established on the series at this point? His door just has "Lieutenant Tragg" written on it and it seems odd that the writers would give another character in a conversation with Tragg the same name as Tragg without an apparent reason or at least mentioning they both had the same name. Tragg even calls the boy "Arthur." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/06/12.
+ The boy is also Arthur in the 1956 novel, where Perry is considerably more generous -- $5 to each of 4 boys and an extra $20 to Arthur, who found the bottle. I don't know when Tragg first became Arthur. Per Wikipedia (Perry Mason (novels)), he first appeared in 1940's TCOT Silent Partner, which also has another character named Arthur. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 07/18/13.
Unfortunately, Christine White does not impress with her acting here; often, PM manages to get some actresses who are able to understate the roles. Christine is not one of these. In her westerns career, she was a better fit. cgraul 7.28.2016
+ Nadine is wearing a wedding band throughout at least the first half of the episode. jfh 17Sep2018
++ Actually, I think it's her engagement ring; in the closeup where she is putting the cyanide tablets into her saccharine bottle you can just barely see what looks like the gem setting at the very bottom of the picture, almost between her ring finger and pinkie. OLEF641 10/20/2020
A Sign of the Times? Early in the episode we see John Locke in his lab working with cyanide. Apparently safety standards weren't as strict then as they are now. Although he his wearing gloves and a lab coat, he has no eye protection, no mask or respirator, and no fume hood. Plus he is working alone. Not only that, he lets his Beloved enter the lab with no protection, then tells her "cyanide's pretty deadly." If the Safety Office had caught me working like that, I would have been written up. I'm reminded of a warning every lab worker has heard:
Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3/27/14.
In addition, while doing this dangerous work, Locke uses his teeth to remove the stopper from a test tube he's holding in a gloved hand! Submitted by FredK 31 March2014
"A husband can't testify against his wife," Della advised John Locke, but doesn't that apply to her actions AFTER the marriage? Mike Bedard 4.11.15
+ Yes, per criminaldefenselawyer.com: "Exceptions to the spousal testimonial privilege exist where a spouse...is asked to testify about matters pre-dating the marriage....Privilege Laws Vary From State to State". The preceding exception is also true in California per www.leginfo.ca.gov. lowercase masonite, 2/10/16.
DD is a Classic PM episode with respect to (Not) handling the bottle from Westside Lake: he BENDS But does Not BREAK the law about Material Evidence. Mike Bedard 4.11.15
Why the spoiler in the summary? Is that new? I did not want to edit it myself, but it seems odd. - Rickapolis 5/3/17
Was the summary edited after I first made that comment four years ago? Or was I seeing things? I’ll say it was edited, but that’s not to say that is where the smart money is going. Rickapolis 6/21/21
>> No, you weren't seeing things. It looks like the edit occurred no later than the next year (2018). Mini-sleuthed by Notcom, 062221.
On the witness stand Burger asks Locke "Just exactly what is PK3?". Locke answers "Potassium Cyanide". The bottle of potassium cyanide in Locke's lab shows KCN as its chemical formula. I'm no chemical engineer but I don't think PK3 is the formula of anything. Kilo 9/10/2019.
+ Literally translated from the chemical formula, PK3 is "Phosphorus Tri-Potassium"; whether there is such a thing, I have no idea. "PCN" is the proper chemical formula for Potassium Cyanide. It is a salt -- a compound of potassium (K+) and cyanide (CN−) ions. Salts easily dissociate in water, or liquids primarily composed of water, into their component ions, in this case potassium, K+, and cyanide, CN-. Oh, and the symbol K used for potassium (which obviously starts with a "p") is from its Latin name, kalium.
There you go, way more than you ever wanted to know about chemistry! You can learn more about cyanide poisoning here. OLEF641 11/18/21