#171: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 02/14/63
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Bruce Jason has a doppelganger, an exact double. The identity of that man is the key to this case about murder and foreign intrigue, which revolves around a struggle for possession of the supposed diary of a certain Iron Curtain dictator.
+ Winston Churchill coined the "Iron Curtain" phrase in a 1946 speech in Harry Truman's Missouri. Mike Bedard 6.1.16.
Hugh O’Brian stars in a double role, playing both Bruce Jason, the lawyer who defends Elihu Laban in a murder trial, and one of the murderers who killed two victims.
Starring Raymond Burr
With special guest star Hugh O’Brian
in The Case of THE TWO-FACED TURN-A-BOUT
Based upon Characters Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Arthur Marks
Written by Samuel Newman
Art Seid | Producer
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
Wiliam Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Wesley Lau as Lt. Anderson
Hugh O’Brian as Bruce Jason/Conrad Vucolo ("Mr. Umdrehen")
Lisa Gaye as Alyssa Laban
Trevor Bardette as Garrett Richards
Abraham Sofaer as Elihu Laban
Robert F. Simon as Philip Hillman
Werner Klemperer as Ulric Zenas
Berry Kroeger as Darius Tyson
Gregory Morton as Amos Waldemar
Joan Petrone as Tess Noyman
Kenneth MacDonald as Judge
Henry Travis as T.V. Reporter
Walter Mathews as Reporter No. 2
Charles H. Radilac as Franz Schreck
William Woodson as Commentator
Dale Johnson as Ride Attendant
Director of Photography … Robert G. Hager
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Gordon A. Webb
Film Editor … John D. Faure
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Ed McDermott, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Cosmo Genovese
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner
Automobiles Supplied by … Ford Motor Co.
Produced by the CBS Television Network
in association with Paisano Productions
Location: The Laff in the Dark ride featured in this episode was at the Long Beach Pike. The “airport protest” scene was staged outside the lobby of the Long Beach Arena, a few blocks from the Pike. Show pictures here. Submitted by D. A Supernaw, 6/21/2005.
+ If you listen carefully, you'll notice they even try to enhance this illusion aurally by dubbing in jet sounds !! (Unfortunately the effort crashes and burns just a few second later, when the arriving parties transfer to cars, and downtown Long Beach is seen in the background... just a block away.) Restored by Notcom, 052517
Goof: When Elihu meets a former agent, the latter repeatedly mentions the Tunnel of Love as the ride in which a certain transaction will take place. However, it is not the Tunnel of Love but rather Laff in the Dark (see above), which is more of a light horror show, not at all romantic. Submitted by gracep, 1/27/2011.
+ Speaking of goofs, when Hugh O'Brian's character is explaining the short circuit with the crowbar, he fails to mention that the crowbar would need to be removed before the fuse is replaced, otherwise there would be another blown fuse! Submitted by Ham Burger, July 14, 2019
Uncredited Actors: At the airport, Don Anderson appears momentarily as a uniformed cop standing behind Lt. Tragg. Bert Stevens is one of Schreck’s (Charles H. Radilac’s) bodyguards, clearly visible as they are leaving the terminal and later as Schreck boards the Laff in the Dark. (He could, however, be a plainclothesman.) And Sgt. Brice (Lee Miller) is among the plainclothes contingent escorting Schreck. Submitted by gracep, 1/27/2011.
+ Anderson also appears very briefly as one of the line of officers providing security at the amusement park. Submitted by FredK, 27 January 2011.
+ And another gallery appearance for the fellow I am convinced is Leonard Nimoy's brother, Melvin. JohnK, 10 January 2018
+ From Melvin Nimoy i know nothing, but i am convinced there is shared DNA there. That hairline! Submitted by catyron, 05/05/18.
Sightings: Several favorite frequent faces turn up for this hearing of international import: “Miss Carmody”, Pencil Mustache Man, Distinguished Gentleman #1, and the Little Old Lady in a Hat. Read more about why we are spotting these people here. Submitted by gracep, 1/27/2011.
+ Continuity Error: At times, those last two spectators magically teleport from one side of the courtroom to the other, from one cut to the next. Submitted by gracep, 1/27/2011.
In the Sightings Department: When Elihu Laban and his Contact enter the darkened "workroom" in the Laff in the Dark ride, there's a crate in the middle of the floor with a spotlight trained on it (12:36). Hey! It's one of the crates from the Claver Collection! Elihu's Contact turns the overhead light on and moves the (now empty) crate to gain access to the trap door. Referring to the linked "Extras/Show127" page, it's the exact-same crate as the one:
- in the Bottom Right Corner of the first image (from ep#118) and
- to the Right of Della's Right Elbow in the last image (from ep#127).
Location: The porch of a house with the address of 1432 is used for scenes at the Laban residence as well as a scene in #218, TCOT Bullied Bowler. I don’t know what street this was but the 1400 block would be just a few blocks north of the studio in Hollywood. Submitted by Eric Cooper, 28 April 2011.
+ It also serves as Floyd Grant’s house in #167 TCOT Bluffing Blast. Submitted by gracenote, 7/25/2011.
“Didn’t Papa Bear want to see Disneyland?” asks Anderson. He’s referring to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who visited the US in September 1959. He was supposed to visit Disneyland, but because of security reasons, it was skipped. Submitted by gracenote, 7/25/2011.
Nice try by the producers to insert the recuperating Mason into this episode: His scene “together” with O’Brien’s character was shot separately. Note the different lighting and the fact that they never appear in the same shot. Submitted by Francis, 12/11/2011.
+ Raymond Burr's hair is significantly shorter than usual and seems greyer in this episode than usual. Perhaps someone else, not Annabelle, did his hair while he was away. Submitted by catyro, 05/05/18
Also, if that is Perry’s apartment, it is very different from previous episodes, most noticeably that florid wallpaper. DOD 01/08/21
Robert F. Simon and Werner Klemperer both appeared in episode #27, 1958's TCOT Desperate Daughter. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/25/12.
Who's Who in News? The Cast List contains two Reporters and a "Commentator":
- "Commentator" (opening scene), played by William Woodson, does the newscast from Volney's funeral in Europe. In his four other PM appearances Woodson plays medical men. (+ he adds BIG VOICE narration to It Came From Beneath the Sea, on the Svengoolie rotation as of March 2019.)
In front of Laban's house, shortly following the opening funeral scene:
- "T.V. Reporter", played by Henry Travis, is the TV reporter holding the microphone (it looks like the same microphone as "Commentator" had in Europe!). He asks the first question when Laban comes out on his porch. I could find only one image of Henry online: here he is as "Colonel Frogley" in The Brain From Planet Arous (on youtube, 1:11:04). He looks much better in this episode than he did in The Brain! Henry Travis also appears in ep#s 183 & 222.
- "Reporter No. 2", played by Walter Mathews, is the second of the reporters to ask Laban a question. Mathews makes five more credited appearances in Perry Mason, mostly as newsmen. You may remember him from later years giving you advice about oil filters.
Their voices impressed me and I wanted to know who was who. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/27/13.
+William Woodson was the Narrator for "The Winds of War" & "War and Remembrance" mini-series. Mike Bedard 2.5.15.
CARS. The car identifications are somewhat uncertain because, other than for the two '63 Ford taxis, the camera did not catch much sharp, identifiable detail on the vehicles in this episode.
- (1) A light-color 1963 Ford Galaxie 4-Door Sedan SUNSHINE Taxi, Lic No YLH 025 (yellow-plate, numerals indistinct). Following the opening newscast from Europe, the taxi takes Zenas from the "airport" to Laban's house. Zenas also makes two more trips in it later. The taxi's apparently blacked-out high-beam headlights indicate that this car probably left the factory as a police special, see Comments section. Rates painted on the front door are the same as previously seen in the series: "25¢ first ⅕ mile, 5¢ each additional ⅕ mile".
- (2) A KNXT remote broadcast unit is stationed at Laban's house when Zenas arrives at 1:43. Watch the background as Zenas exits the taxi and read "KNXT CHANNEL 2" on the van's side. It's a special-purpose Step Van similar to this with an opened cable bay in the rear, like this. The TV industry calls this an Outside Broadcast or OB Van. The TV camera on Laban's front lawn is also marked "KNXT", like the camera pictured here at the CBS Television City ribbon cutting, 15 Nov 1952. More on KNXT in Comments section, below.
- (3) Rear view of a light-color 1962 Mercury Meteor 4-Door Sedan approaching the amusement park at 11:00. It might be Laban's car but, if so, why are there two people in it? In the next shot Laban is walking to Laff in the Dark alone. It could be a '63 Meteor but it's more likely to be the same '62 Meteor that appeared in ep#s 169 &170.
- (4) A black 1962 Cadillac Fleetwood Series Seventy-Five Limousine or Sedan waits for Franz Schreck in front of the "airport" (14:36). A security escort, (5) (6) (7), is waiting with it:
- (5), (6) Two Motorcycle Police with their 1958 or later Harley Davidson Duo-Glide police bikes are in front of the limo, and
- (7) An indeterminate large, black, US-made luxury sedan that looks most like a 1963 Buick Sedan is behind Schreck's limo (problem: Buick's 3 or 4 venti-ports seem to be invisible). The car's shape is also right for a '63 Oldsmobile but the front bumper looks wrong.
- (8) Paul & Della are tailing Zenas in Paul's black 1962 Thunderbird Convertible (top down) at 40:42. Not enough of the car is shown to distinguish it from a '61 or '63 TBird so I rely on series context for the year identification (eg, Paul's TBird in ep#174 is indubitably 1962).
Background Cars. The other light-colored taxi that appears in the background at least once is also a 1963 Ford Galaxie 4-Door Sedan. An inter-city bus of unidentified make/model/year/livery is the backdrop to Schreck standing by his limousine at 14:38. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/30/13.
The TELEVISION CAMERA deployed by the KNXT NEWS mobile unit is almost certainly an RCA TK-30 or, alternately, a TK-10 or TK-30A. The TK-10 and TK-30 were both introduced into service in 1946 and were virtually identical in external appearance. The TK-30 was the field version of the TK-10 but was also used in studio. These cameras were used until at least 1964, as confirmed at eyesofageneration.com (scroll down to "CBS Section", look for Jackie Gleason). Also look for CBS network president "paint em grey" Frank Stanton who ordered that RCA insignia be removed from CBS cameras and that they all be painted a uniform grey. Photos of a surviving example here. Added by Gary Woloski, 8/26/13.
ID is based on comparison of the episode video with online images. I have no qualification or personal experience in vintage TV cameras! I have, however, consulted more sources than just those used here as links and found them all to be 100% mutually supporting with no contradictions. GSW
Goof: Schreck was supposed to enter the amusement park at noon; but by the shadows seen at 14:54, it must be sunrise. It just dawned on me that they must have filmed the amusement park scenes early in the day, before the park opened to the public. --submitted by 10yearoldfan, 15 November 2013.
Hugh O'Brian: Was the star of the ABC television show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Original episodes were broadcast for six seasons from 1955 to 1961. Submitted by H. Mason 1/17/15
Interesting that Hugh O'Brien's Bruce Jason has to explain the meaning of the word doppelganger to Werner Klemperer's character when the actor was born in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
+ I know. That was DUMB. Submitted by catyron 01/05/18
++ Actually, Klemperer was playing a Balkan national, who may have had no familiarity with the German language, so it actually can make sense. OLEF641 5/25/21
Kenneth MacDonald's 32 appearances as a PM judge started in 1957 with S1 E2 and ended in 1966 with S9 E30, when MacDonald was Judge #1 and ESG was uncredited as Judge #2...MikeM. 3/23/2018
This episode may hold the record for the most actors with multiple Perry Mason appearances. In the first scene on the yacht with 6 actors, one actor had 2 appearances, 2 actors had 3 appearances, one had 6 appearances and two had 7 appearances! And that is not counting Werner Klempler who appeared 3 times.
Did not enjoy this episode for many reasons. Lisa Gaye was not believable as the indignant daughter of a political refugee. Her phony outrage that a "Hollywood lawyer" was assigned to her father's case was hindered by her limitations as an actress. Something also a bit ironic about her anger over a lawyer who is used to holding hands with "tempermental starlets." Don't look now dear, but isn't that you? The depth of her faux outrage was suspicious until it became clear that they were setting up a Tracey/Hepburn arc for her and the Hollywood lawyer. Once she saw that he actually knew what he was doing, it no longer made sense for her to continue throwing pointed barbs at him. Ms Gaye is just more believable as a scheming bad girl type. Incidentally, if her father is still "practically a stranger in this country," why did she look and act like a California Valley Girl?
And Hugh O'Brien's contrived Rambo-like acting style was about 2 decades too late. Somebody needed to tell him that it was 1963 not 1943. Strutting around like he's a tough guy and speaking in clipped tones to everyone. He kept pausing for effect after saying his lines. In fact his lines sounded obviously overdubbed. It became embarrassing. He desperately wanted to be a leading man in a spy show. Then he literally put on his lawyer's uniform entering a room with dark sunglasses on. It just seemed so amateur. PM is normally much smarter than this.
The story asked us to believe that a world leader from the Eastern Bloc was allowed to ride on a children's ride alone? Even if a world leader DID do that, he would never have gone alone. I realize it was a set-up, but it seems unusual that US officials didn't veto the idea for their own security reasons. Nobody wants to get blamed if a Cold War rival is killed on US soil. Even the airport protestors would not be able to get anywhere near him. If you look back at Khrushchev's visit to the US, everything was strictly controlled to prevent what happened in this episode. The doppelganger bit also seemed forced to create suspense. If they were twin brothers, it might have been a bit more believable. To enjoy a show like this you have to identify and sympathize with at least one character. It was just impossible in this episode. The whole thing was like a bad Robert Ludlum novel. Submitted by DellaMason
A mobile unit of KNXT television news is stationed in front of Laban's house early in the episode. KNXT Channel 2 Los Angeles was the real-world CBS Television Network station carrying Perry Mason when this episode #171 first aired (see this ad by CBS TV in the Television Age issue of August 5, 1963). Here is a thumbnail history of CBS TV in Los Angeles:
- In 1949-50, CBS programming was carried by network affiliate KTTV Ch11, Los Angeles.
- In 1950, CBS sold its 49% interest in KTTV and bought KTSL from Don Lee Broadcasting. CBS-owned-&-operated KTSL Ch2 took over full CBS programming on 1 Jan 1951.
- On 28 Oct 1951 KTSL changed its call-letters to KNXT, a common-sense change to conform to the call-letters of KNX, the long-established CBS Radio Network station in Los Angeles.
- On 2 Apr 1984 KNXT changed its call-letters to KCBS-TV (partial ref: wiki article).
During the years of the Perry Mason series, the KNXT station was located:
- through to the end of the 1950's, in rented studios in the north half of the Don Lee Mutual Broadcasting Building at 1313 N Vine St, Hollywood (now the Pickford Center) and
- from the early '60s, with KNX Radio at CBS Columbia Square, 6121 Sunset Boulevard.
KNXT was a pioneer in expanding television news coverage. Before the '60s, news coverage on television was extraordinarily sparse, amounting to an hour or less per day on any given channel.
- Here is a KNXT evening schedule for June 16-30, 1956. The 45 minutes total daily news coverage is perfectly typical of TV news programming across the US during the 50s: two 15-min local sessions plus one 15-min network news show. (The building pictured on the morning schedule page is CBS Television City, although KNXT's studios weren't located there.)
- Innovation came in 1961 when KNXT expanded its evening local newscast "The Big News" to 45 minutes, being the first station in the US to do so.
- In 1963, KNXT further expanded "The Big News" to an hour.
I recommend Bill Harvey's article 'The Big News' was big news in broadcast world, Los Angeles Times May 22, 2011. Submitted by Gary Woloski, 8/22/13.
+Thanks, Gary. That was well-researched and of interest. Submitted by catyron, 05/05/18
Telephone Call: Why did Paul send Della to find a telephone? What happened to his car phone seen in episodes 107 and 157? Submitted by H. Mason 1/17/15
+ My husband and I noticed that too -- a gross continuity fail! Submitted by catyron, 05/05/18
++ Maybe he: A - Didn't want to phone while he drove away or B - Forgot to pay his bill ;-) OLEF641 5/25/21
Hugh O’Brien looks mighty tasty in that shredded shirt! And Lt Anderson stole Paul Drake’s “one way ticket to the gas chamber” line. Must say though that, like most of these “international intrigue” episodes, this show was unsatisfying and a bit silly. And if I had to hear Volney Papers one more time!...worse than that Purple Woman or Weary Watchdog. DOD 01/08/21
+This is my all-time least favorite episode. Constant repetition of "Mr/Herr Umdrehen" for starters, the McGuffin (sorry) Volney Papers, and, finally, the far-fetched espionage story, especially the convoluted end. OLEF641 5/25/21
The Summary gives away way too much information. It shouldn't mention "doppelganger" at all. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 11/13/2013.
+I never got the impression the foreign characters were Russian. Added by H. Mason 1/17/15
"Have you been injured in an accident?" I chuckled when Alyssa Laban asked Bruce Jason if it was ethical for lawyers to advertise. Whenever I watch Perry Mason on MeTV, I'll see several ads from ambulance-chasing lawyers. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 11/13/2013 (revised 10-29-2014)
Yet another episode in which the very traditional courtroom set bears no relation to the contemporary court building exterior.
Frankly ridiculous that a visiting official would be visiting an amusement park like this, going on rides by himself.
"The Office of Strategic Services was initiated by General William J. Donovan with the approval...of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to...provide intelligence needed for wartime activities...Branches of the OSS included SI (Secret Intelligence), SO (Special Operations), OG (Operational Groups) & MO (Morale Operations)," www.ossog.org states. CIA.gov observes that OSS employed 13,000 (including 4,500 women); 7,500 served overseas (including 900 females) & the agency spent $135 Million during its 4 years of operation. Following OSS's post-war disbandment, the National Security Act of 1947 created the CENTRAL Intelligence Agency as our 1st Permanent, Civilian espionage entity. Mike Bedard 2.7.15.
Wrongful Role: I'm Lisa Gaye's biggest fan, and she's beautiful when angry. But she falls short playing righteous indignation in this episode. Much better as the petulant wife as in TCOT Traveling Treasure. JohnK, 25 October 2015
+She's also beautiful when she's not angry, but not even her presence can salvage this gobbler of an episode. Submitted by BobH, 5 March 2017.
+ She was just awful as the petulant little girl.-woman Ugh. A pretty face does not an actress make. Submitted by catyron, 05/05/18
The "Blacked-Out" headlights on the taxi, Car(1), are probably high-beam headlamps with high-color-density RED lenses. A few references I've found (police car photo books, etc) indicate that circa-1962/63 a few US states allowed emergency vehicles to use warning-light systems of this nature. The low-beam (uncolored) and high-beam (red) headlamps would alternately flash. Added by Gary Woloski, 11/13/15.
Learning from the Master This is perhaps the series' purest example of a MacGuffin:
we hear about the Volney Papers - God do we hear about them...over and over again !! - but we never really learn what's in them or if they're as important as everyone thinks. Submitted by Notcom, 030916.
FORT DIX, NJ was mentioned as the starting point for the OSS operation: PFC John F. Bedard met Margaret Tighe at a FD dance and later married. Mike Bedard 5.28.16.
"A Case of (Mixed-Up) Identity." Just to add to the infinite confusion of this episode's plot, it would have been appropriate if it had been revealed in the epilogue that the killer was actually Earl Mauldin in disguise. (See Episode #74, TCOT Startled Stallion.) Submitted by BobH, 5 March 2017.
By this 3rd Perry-less episode, you REALLY want him back! Of course the writers were desperately scrambling to produce new last-minute scripts featuring 'guest' lawyers shaped around big actors who also had to be rounded up at short notice. By this episode they were giddily indulging in international espionage foolishness--Dr. No had been a big hit the year before, after all. Hugh O'Brian (clearly hoping for a new show of his own) swaggers around like a James Bond clone, and it's very creepy the way he gloms onto Lisa Gaye and hauls her off at the end like a war prize. ckbtao 7/19/20
I must agree with those who find this episode less than successful. What I find surprising is my wife likes it so much. Well, maybe not. If I can admire Lisa Gaye she can admire Hugh O’Brian. Submitted by Rickapolis 02/09/23