#181: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 05/16/63
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
The story starts with Perry actually losing a case. More accurately, he’s losing an appeal. Though the details are never discussed, the first scene sets up Perry’s relationship with the sitting appellate judge, a man named Daniel Redmond.
Redmond is up for the nomination for lieutenant governor. But he learns that Martin Weston, a hopeless alcoholic, will testify that the judge was involved in a plot to defraud the government back in 1943.
Things get really complicated when the charges soon include homicide, as Weston is found poisoned and Redmond is arrested.
Several of TV’s familiar faces appear in this episode, including David White (Betwitched), Jackie (“Uncle Fester”) Coogan, and Florida Friebus, who played the mother in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
With its unusual, well-played plot, and some more dramatic than usual music and highly atmospheric lighting—especially in scenes that take place in the judge’s chambers—this is one of the best episodes of the Mason series and a fitting end to the show’s 1962-63 season.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE WITLESS WITNESS
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Arthur Marks
Teleplay by Samuel Newman
Story by Marshall Houts and 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
Robert Middleton as Judge Daniel Redmond
David White as Victor Kendall
Jackie Coogan as Gus Sawyer
Steve Brodie as Quinn Torrey
Florida Friebus as Marian Lamont
Rita Lynn as Madge Eberly
Vaughn Taylor as Martin Weston
Lee Bergere as James Wall
Harry Holcombe as Senator Deering
Grandon Rhodes as Judge
Larry Thor as Commentator
Michael Fox as Autopsy Surgeon
Henry Hunter as Attorney
Jason Johnson as Second Senator
Don Anderson as:
- 2nd Attorney
- Ambulance Attendant
- Coutroom Spectator
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 … Sandy Grace
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Cosmo Genovese
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner
Produced by the CBS Television Network
in association with Paisano Productions
Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson has a definite three-bagger (three different appearances as an extra) in this episode. First he’s seen very briefly in the scene in Judge Redmond’s courtroom as a member of the legal team that has just defeated Perry. In the second he’s one of two uniformed police or fire ambulance attendants who get the okay from Lt. Anderson and Dr. Hoxie to remove Martin Weston’s body from the murder scene. And third, he appears as a spectator in the second row behind the defense table during the trial. Submitted by FredK, 9 October 2010.
Sightings: The court reporter today is Distinguished Gentleman #1, with glasses. Strangely, however, he reappears in the courtroom gallery (in a cutaway to Marian) while Dr. Hoxie testifies! Submitted by gracenote, 2/10/2011.
+ This uncredited actor is Rudolph Salinger, who played many small parts in the series, in addition to his frequent appearances as a courtroom spectator.
John D. Faure served regularly as film editor in this series, in over 50 episodes. According to IMDb, he died on July 7, 1963. Therefore, this is the last episode edited by Faure to air before his death. Submitted by gracenote, 2/2/2011.
Jackie Coogan may be the only PM regular to have a law named after him. The highest paid child actor of the silent era, he earned an estimated $4,000,000 by age 18, virtually all of which was spent - legally - by his mother and stepfather, leaving him about broke. The notoriety resulted in a law requiring a portion of a child’s earnings to be put in trust. His first wife was a teenage Betty Grable. DOD 01/22/21
Larry Thor, the news commentator in this episode, was years earlier a radio announcer for CBS. Submitted by gracenote, 2/10/2011.
+ He was also a Canadian, like Raymond Burr. It was a treat to me to hear his voice on this episode. Here'a a Wikipedia article with much more background than can currently be found at IMDb -- about his career as a radio announcer, actor, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, singer, and professor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Thor
Star Trek Alert: Lee Bergere (James Wall) played President Lincoln (or a simulacrum thereof) in Star Trek: The Original Series third season episode "The Savage Curtain," which involves rocklike aliens who recreate historical figures from the subconscious of the Enterprise crew to fight it out in an attempt to understand the earthlings' concepts of good and evil. Lincoln was Kirk's role model. Spock's hero was Surak, played by Barry Atwater, who also appeared in Perry Mason (in six episodes), as also did a young Leonard Nimoy, of course (Episode 166). But it doesn't stop there. The actor who played Colonel Green (a war criminal from the Martian Colonies), Phillip Pine, appeared in Perry Episode 193) as a criminal who gets paroled from prison and then winds up arrested for murder. Janos Prohaska, who played Yarnok, the rock alien, also played the Gorilla in the dubious Perry episode, "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla" (Pohaska specialized in playing animals, aliens, and monsters). Submitted by MyFavoritePolarBear, 11/15/22.
Character Names: Credits omit the Autopsy Surgeon’s name, Dr. Hoxie. (And this is one of the few times we see him outside the courtroom, as he examines the body at the crime scene.) Submitted by gracenote, 2/10/2011.
Lt. Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins) appears in the credits only. Submitted by gracenote, 2/10/11.
This Episode has No Outdoor Scenes and NO CARS. Added by Gary Woloski, 10/18/13.
David White (Victor Kendall) is most well-known as Larry Tate, Darrin’s boss (both Darrins) in Bewitched. Submitted by cgraul, 9/22/2011.
+ David - a Marine during WWII - played the CIA Director in "Columbo: Identity Crisis" ('75) [IMDb]. Mike Bedard 2.20.15.
Familiar TV face Vaughn Taylor appeared in eight PM episodes (including the very first one aired), but this is the only time he was the victim. Submitted by cgraul 9/22/2011.
+ Taylor's character, Bishop Mallory, was also bumped off as a second victim in TCOT Stuttering Bishop, while the trial of the first victim was already underway. Added by alan_sings 11/29/2014.
A fifth L.A. newspaper is in this story. There are two front page headlines shown in the Los Angeles Clarion. The other four papers are the L.A. Chronicle (of course), The L.A. Star News seen in episodes 29 and 41, the L.A. Bulletin mentioned - never shown - in episode 139 and the Evening Star in 156 - never shown- a reporter is part of the story. Submitted by H. Mason 9/26/14
Recycled Newspaper: When Mr. Torrey entered Judge Redmond's office the newspaper he threw on the desk was a copy of the Los Angeles Chronicle with the headline: WHO IS TRUDY'S FATHER?. It first appeared in episode 95 TCOT Flighty Father. A close-up of a newspaper, called the Los Angeles Clarion, showed the headline: REDMOND AND KENDALL NOMINATED FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. Submitted by H. Mason 2/12/15
Perry Loses A Case: All of Mr. Mason's clients were innocent of murder, but this story opened with Perry losing some kind of case (also mentioned above). Submitted by H. Mason 2/12/15
Marshall Houts, with a story co-credit, was an attorney, judge, and prolific writer. His Wikipedia page says he served in the FBI, OSS, and CIA...MikeM. 12/9/2016
+ Some more information on Marshall Houts
- In the book series, ESG dedicates TCOT Shapely Shadow to him
- As pointed out by MikeM, perennial favorite judge actor John Launer played a role on the "other" ESG television series, "The Court of Last Resort". The role he played is Marshall Houts.
Submitted by lontjr 1/19/2021
This is the fourth of five PM appearances for Rita Lynn, who was married to actor Frank Maxwell. Frank Maxwell made three PM appearances...MikeM. 3/17/2017
This is the only PM appearance for Florida Friebus, who said she was named after her mother's favorite aunt...MikeM. 4/6/2018
MeTV is having Perry MAYson week. Tonight they are showing this episode, which first aired exactly 55 years ago on 16 May 1963...MikeM. 5/16/2018
In the opening scene, Judge Redmond and Perry are discussing the case he lost and they mention two older cases, Jones v Hart (1698) and Priestly v Fowler (1837). Both are actual cases from English tort law and dealt with an employer not being liable for injuries sustained by one employee when caused by another employee in the course of their employment. Submitted by Steve Fox 11/14/2019
Seeming script error: Despite Perry losing a case before Judge Redmond in the opening scene, Judge Redmond later is impressed by Perry and says he looks forward to seeing him in action in a courtroom. Submitted by Fred Flintstone 10/24/2020
+ The case at the beginning of the episode is an appeal, which I believe only involves the lawyers from both sides arguing before a judge; the losing side trying to get the judge to send the case back to the lower court so it can be tried again with (hopefully) different results, the winners arguing that the decision should stand. I think what Judge Redmond looks forward to is seeing Perry in a full trial, with witnesses, etc. Judge Redmond, be careful what you wish for! OLEF641 6/8/21
Syndicated Cuts from FETV:
01:23 - 01:56.. 0:23 In the courtroom, Judge Redmond denies Perry’s appeal of case
05:31 - 06:05 .. 0:34 In the subcommittee hearing, James Wall wishes to question Martin Westin about marine engines
15:43 - 16:22 .. 0:39 Judge Redmond walks into a dark, empty courtroom and contemplates his situation
18:57 - 21:14 .. 2:17 Judge Redmond visits a drunk Martin West at his apartment … and gets subpoenaed by James Wall
Total ............... 3:53
Submitted by DexterLakeClub, 03/04/22.
This case, involving a judge as a defendant, has scenes in his courtroom that do not actually involve a hearing or trial.
This episode could also qualify as having three different courts, since the episode opens in court (where, by the way, Perry has the appeal go against him in what appears to be a civil case), there is a Senate Sub-Committee hearing integral to the storyline, and, of course, the trial at the end. OLEF641 9/21/22
Gavel and Other Statistics For Season Six:
Gavel: not used in any episodes in court, however, in TCOT Lurid Letter, the judge did use one during the Board of Education meeting about 3/4 of the way through the episode.
Gavel on judge's bench: 1 episode, the first since at least some time during Season 3.
Pencil Tapping: 4 episodes.
Two different courts: 5 episodes, plus 2 episodes featuring a Senate Sub-Committee. Police Board of Rights hearing: 1 episode (#5), though no actual proceedings were shown. OLEF641 9/21/22
It is rather enjoyable to see a judge who is the intellectual equal to Perry Mason. Indeed, Mason seems somewhat intimidated by him. It gives Mason a little more depth, makes him less of a cardboard superhero and more like a real attorney. Submitted by gracenote, 2/10/2011.
Not only does the judge match Perry’s intellect, but his heft as well! I can think of no other episode where Perry’s client seems to outweigh him. Submitted by Ed Zoerner, 8/22/2011.
Anyone else think Steve Brodie resembles that ‘Mayhem’ guy from those insurance commercials? DOD 02/08/22
If the display of clocks behind the TV newscaster looks familiar, “Airlines Oceanic Mexicana” had the same display at LAX four episodes earlier (#177, Elusive Element). Evidently this display was a popular status symbol in 1963 for companies wanting to look international. Submitted by masonite, 12/02/2011.
Victor Kendall, for one, enters a US Senate “SUB COMMITTEE [sic]” hearing room. Even in 1963 wasn’t “subcommittee” one word, the usual spelling? Archives.gov uses the one-word spelling, and I suppose that the people who ran the hearing would want to have good signage. Submitted by masonite, 12/02/2011.
An enjoyable excellent episode. I do not recall Perry having so many objections overruled. Submitted by Perry Baby 8/12/16.
Fast Friends? Though it was, of course, inevitable that Ms. Lamont's mission of mercy would end up at Perry's doorstep, it seems strange that the writer's chose to give the unmistakable impression that he and Redmond had little - if any - prior interaction: sure, our hero is world renowned, but your boss is in trouble and the first person you turn to is someone he doesn't really know...who he's just ruled against in court ?? Pondered by Notcom , 051117.
Given the flimsy evidence of fraud which forms the whole basis for the accusations against Judge Redmond, perhaps this episode might be a commentary about the Communist hearings of the 1950s, specifically the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, with James Wall (Lee Bergere) and Victor Kendall (David White) as McCarthyite figures. Submitted by gracenote, 7/27/2011.
Question: What happened to Madge Eberly???? As I have said in comment sections of other episodes these stories seem incomplete. All it would have taken was one line of dialog in the final scene saying she was going to be tried or given three years or anything to let the viewers know that she would be punished for her illegal activities. Submitted by H. Mason 2/12/
I have to agree. Ms. Eberly was, in my opinion, the least likable of all the dubious characters in the show, as she seemed to have no other motive than vindictive spite .. I know it hurts to be, say, rejected, but after twenty years? My mother had sage advice after my first boyhood breakup: 'What do you want with someone who doesn't want you??' She certainly deserved some penalty for her involvement... Submitted by MikeReese 6/7/2021