<< Fifty Millionth Frenchman | Episodes | Arrogant Arsonist >>

#201: The Case of the
Frightened Fisherman
Original Airdate: 02/27/64

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
Chemist Randolph James has started a successful business to develop a new antibiotic. But when his former boss, Hudson Bradshaw, files suit claiming James developed the formula while working for him, it’s only the beginning of James’s problems.

His wife, Natalie, is selling her stock to Bradshaw, which will give the ex-boss control of James’s new company. There are also whispers that Natalie is having an affair with Bradshaw. Furious, James vows to stop his wife at any cost.

It’s apparently not an empty threat, as Natalie soon turns up dead. The police say James did it. James claims that he was fishing at the time of the murder. But when he can’t locate the fisherman who can back up his story, he locates Perry instead.

Credits Edit

Random actor from episode. Click for page of all available.


Starring Raymond Burr
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins


Directed by Arthur Marks
Written by Jonathan Latimer
Arthur Marks / Art Seid | Producers
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
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Wesley Lau as Lt. Anderson


Mala Powers as Helen Bradshaw
Connie Gilchrist as Mrs. Pennyworth
Lee Farr as Randolph James
Marian Collier as Natalie James
Ilze Taurens as Gretchen Lang
Richard Devon as Marion Devlin
Bartlett Robinson as Hudson Bradshaw
Emile Genest as Hans Lang
Bill Smith as Andy Witcoe
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Richard Cutting as Blind Fisherman
Stacy Keach as Lt. Gibson
Kort Falkenberg as Interne
Ray Walker as Fake Fisherman
Walter Stocker as 1st Police Officer
Seamon Glass as 2nd Police Officer
Richard Geary as 3rd Police Officer
Harry Strang as Lab Parking Guard
Tom Harkness as Judge

Uncredited Actors
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Robert Wegner as Door Bailiff


“Perry Mason”
Director of Photography … Howard Schwartz, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Gordon A. Webb
Film Editor … Al Clark, A.C.E
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Ed McDermott, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Carl Biddiscombe
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Marshall Schlom
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner
Automobiles Supplied by … Ford Motor Company

Perry Mason
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions

Trivia Edit

Location: Within the first 10 minutes Natalie asks the operator to connect her to Hudson Bradshaw’s mobile car phone. As he answers his car phone, the Malibu Vet Clinic which was at 23919 Malibu Road, is visible over his left shoulder. It’s just across the street from the Malibu Colony. The shell of the vacant Vet Clinic still exists although it looks like it might blow over any minute. Just to his left as he drives is the back area of the old Colony Market which lasted until the 1980s when it was replaced by a Ralph’s market. Posted by Eric Cooper and Linda Shockley, July 27, 2009.
+ The big bluff in the background is called Malibu Bluffs Park and is the home of the Michael Landon Community Center. This same drive by location was used again when Paul Drake answers his car phone halfway through episode #226, TCOT Frustrated Folk Singer. Malibu seems to be a favorite location, probably because Raymond Burr lived there during the series. Posted by Eric Cooper and Linda Shockley, July 27, 2009. Some pictures here.

Does anyone know the address of that building used for Lang-James Labs? It looks remarkably similar to the one used for United Labs in this episode. Submitted by dped, 1/30/24.

Sightings: Quiet Old Man (#1) and Pencil Mustache Man are briefly visible in the courtroom gallery at various times. More here. Submitted by daveb, 1/5/2011.
+ Distinguished Gentleman #1 joins them in observing the courtroom action. Submitted by gracenote, 2/13/2011.

TCOT Curious Coffee Set: The Curious Coffee Set makes another appearance, this time in a restaurant where Perry has stopped off. Submitted by FredK, 10 January 2011.
+ At 35:41 we can see that the restaurant has several tables set up, and the table nearest where Paul enters has three more of these curious cups and saucers, while the table behind Perry has two -- for a total of six. Submitted by catyron, June 4th, 2018

The Stacy Keach who plays Lt. Gibson is none other than the father of the Stacy Keach (Jr.) who played Mike Hammer on TV in the 1980s and 1990s. Submitted by gracenote, 2/13/2011.

English-born Thomas Holden Harkness has 2 Actor credits on IMDb: 6 Perry Mason Judges & an uncredited role in Sex and the Single Girl. Mike Bedard 3.17.15.

Ray Collins was credited but did not appear as Lt. Tragg. Barbara Hale was credited but did not appear as Della Street. We did, however, get a rare glimpse of Connie Cezon as Gertie. Submitted by gracenote, 2/13/2011.
+ FF was Della's 6th absence. Barbara was voted May Queen her Senior year in HS [IMDb]. Mike Bedard 3.18.15

Location: The Malibu beach house will be reused by Lee Meriwether in Cheating Chancellor. Submitted by Eric Cooper, 28 April 2011.

The Beach House William Smith (AKA Falconetti from Rich Man Poor Man) is in is actually the Mildred Piece house. It was at 26652 Latigo Shores Dr in Malibu but was destroyed in 1983 by a storm. Eric Cooper 28 January 2013.

Uncredited Actors: Sgt. Brice (Lee Miller) appears by Lt. Anderon’s side as he makes his arrest. Robert Wegner is the bailiff who guards the door. Submitted by gracenote, 2/13/2011.

CARS, in order of appearance; Cast Cars are numbered, background cars lettered. Cars (a), (1) & (b) are in the Opening Shot:

  • (a) A medium-color 1964 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon enters LANG-JAMES LABORATORIES parking lot; Licence No ORT 245, has optional Cornering Lights ($30.10) & Roof Rack ($99.71). This is the First 1964 Model-year Buick to appear in PM but it's not linked to any character in the story. It passes by:
  • (1) a parked 1951 Ford Country Squire V8, light-color two-door Woody Wagon. It's seen to be Randolph James' car later at the beach. Watch for the 1951 two-torpedo grill and jet-plane hood ornament, especially in the hit-and-run scene. Compare to grill & hood ornament on '49/'50 Fords.
  • (b) The tiny car immediately to the Left of Car(1) is a Triumph Spitfire Mark 1 (1962-64), light color, see image 4/4 here. It is dwarfed by the '55 Chev 210 Wagon, two '59 Ford Fairlanes and the '60 Corvair Club Coupe to its Left. Randolph misidentifies his own car as 1950 in the dialogue. You may ignore this blooper; see "Randolph's Car" in Comments section. The remaining Cast Cars are:
  • (2) Perry's white 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible, top up.
  • (3) Andy Witcoe's medium color 1949 or 1950 Ford Custom Station Wagon (11:20) with chromed stock wheels/no hubcaps, missing passenger door handle, well-weathered wooden body parts. The 49/50 hood ornament is visible. The '49/'50 aft side-windows are configured differently from the '51 Ford wagon. It's a '49. The door handles and hood ornament are different. I know. I restored a '50. Joe B. 06/02/2020
  • (4) Hudson Bradshaw’s phone-equipped car (12:06) is a medium-color 1964 Buick Wildcat Convertible, medium-color (more pics). Visible exterior matches 1963 or '64 full-sized Buicks (LeSabre, Wildcat or Electra 225) but the '64 steering wheel (not '63) and vertical upholstery stitching narrow it down to '64 Wildcat.
  • (5) 1964 Ford Custom 4-Door Sedan, Bay Shores Police B&W, roof-mounted siren flanked by two red flashers, series-favorite cop-car Licence No E 014.

Regarding the model names of Cars (1) and (3): both were in Ford's top "Custom Deluxe" line. Ford first began using the Country Squire name to refer to its top-of-the-line wagon in Spring 1950 but the name did not yet actually appear on the vehicle. The car more formally became Country Squire for the 1951 model year; the script can be seen on the doors of Randolph's Car (1). Added by Gary Woloski, 11/27/14.

Another First: This story featured the first true murder by hit-and-run. Three of the last four stories have gotten away from the usual shootings, stabbings and blows to the head. Submitted by H. Mason 3/17/15

There's a bit of Surfer Lingo at 11:39:

  • RANDOLPH: Hello, Andy. How's the surfing?
  • ANDY: Strictly from nothing. Waves even a ho-daddy wouldn't bother with.

Mainstream Americans might have been clued-in to the term "ho-daddy" by the article A Way of Life on the Wavetops in the 1 Sept 1961 issue of LIFE magazine, pp47-53. The definition was expanded in the letters section three weeks later. I believe that 1959's Gidget only had fer-real surfer dudes and no ho-daddies. The first Beach Boys single, Surfin', wasn't released until Nov '61. Added by Gary Woloski, 11/12/14.

+ Beach Boys fans may recall "Surfer's Rule" ..The Hodaddies sittin' while the Surfers are draggin'.. , c.1963. dped, 1/31/24

Inconsistencies:While the 2 ladies are enjoying 3 or 4 martinis, it is very strange that when one of them looks into the telescope the ocean is to the left with the defendant fishing while the direction the telescope is aimed at in the room, the ocean is to the right...HamBurger 8/28/2016
+Sight unseen it was also a remarkably clear image for what was supposed to be night fishing; presumably that ultra-bright moon - that oft times casts shadows! - was hard at work. Notcom 070621.

This is the only PM appearance for Ilze Taurens, who was born in Latvia...MikeM. 1/6/2017

This is the second of two PM appearances for Marian Collier, who played Marilyn Scott on seven episodes of the television series Mr. Novak...MikeM. 1/6/2017

Lee Farr died of cancer 23Mar2017, barely two weeks before his 90th birthhday.

This is the first of three PM appearances for prolific actor Richard Devon, who had recurring roles in "Yancy Derringer" and "Richard Diamond, Private Detective." ...MikeM. 1/12/2018

This is the only PM appearance for veteran character actor Richard Cutting, who had a dozen appearance on the television series "Wagon Train", all of them playing different roles...MikeM. 5/4/2018

This is likewise the only appearance of Bill Smith, tho he would play a remarkably similar role in Columbo a decade later (Remarkable mainly in that - at nearly 40 - he couldn't still be considered a "boy toy", but nevertheless still had rugged good looks enough to be a gigolo). Notcom 072122.

When Natalie throws her drink in Andy's face in the background can be seen a Zenith H-664 Radio Phonograph circa 1951. Note it's unusual design. Kilo 6/12/2019.
+ Note: this same radio phonograph appears in the next episode, too. TCOT Arrogant Arsonist. Kilo 6/13/2019.

Comments Edit

There have been several characters in this show that channel/copy other more famous (and talented) actors. We had the James Dean wannabe in the Bette Davis episode. And now we have a Kirk Douglas clone in Bill Smith (Andy.) From the the contrived, forced intensity voice to the square jaw, he is very obviously a Spartacus fan.

I love Connie Cezan as Gertie Lade, but her "Conehead" hairdo in this episode is not my favorite. jfh 19Mar2024

I am not 100% certain because of the distance of the shot, but when Mrs. James identifies a man getting out of his car as Perry Mason, it rather looks more like Distinguished Gentleman #1. Submitted by gracenote, 8/11/2011.
+ I couldn't tell either. From the way that the person walked, semi-lumbering, it seemed like Perry. To Mrs. James, however, Perry is "Mr. Mason", but he addresses her as "Natalie", not as "Mrs. James". Curious. lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.

Connie Gilchrist may be better known for her role as Norah Muldoon in "Auntie Mame" with Rosalind Russell.
Devlin apparently has a taste for flashy jewelry. In the lab scene, he wears a flashy pin on his jacket, and in court the biggest cuff links I’ve ever seen seen.
When questioning toy boy Andy, Perry points out that the jewelry Andy pawned for $160. was actually worth about $20,000. Yet it is a few minutes later that Paul breathlessly shows the just discovered pawn tickets to Perry.
When Paul introduces the real fisherman in the hall outside the courtroom, Perry is standing in front of a Civil Defense sign in such a way as to have it look like he has suddenly sprouted cat ears. DODay 1/12/18

When Perry completes his examination of Devlin and asks the judge for a moment or two, as he crosses in front of the prosecutor's table, there's a quite loud squeak. It sounds as though someone stepped on a doggy toy. <and then,, as he steps into the hall, he sprouts cat's ears as noted by DODay> jfh 19Mar2024

There is a young dark-haired fellow who appears in the courtroom, and then later reappears in the courtroom scene. Submitted by gracenote, 8/11/2011.

When Lang and James are intently watching their cute little bubbling test tube, it seems strange they're not wearing any eye protection, something which would have gotten me written up by the Safety Office. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 12/6/2013.
+ Also interesting that Lang corked a "boiling" test tube. Kilo 3/13/2020.

James cracks a joke to Bradshaw about testing a "pocket-sized atom bomb," but he was more prescient than he realized; so-called "backpack," or "pocket," nukes actually have been developed. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 12/6/2013.

RANDOLPH's CAR. The dialog at 18:03 goes:

  • POLICE: Hit-and-run over in the colony about 40 minutes ago. '50, '51 station wagon, according to a witness.
  • RANDOLPH: Mine's a '50.
  • POLICE: Yes Mr James, so it is.

Randolph's line should have been "Mine's a '51". It is intended (by screenwriter, director & cinematographer) that the driver's identity is not explicit in the hit-and-run scene BUT there is still an error in Randolph's line. It seems that either the script wasn't coordinated with the cars or actor Lee Farr misread the line; perhaps there was confusion arising from the similarity between Cars 1 & 3. The intended ambiguity about the car & driver in the scene would not be diminished with the suggested correction. Also note that screenwriter Jonathan Latimer and goofiness regarding cars seem to go together [for examples see ep#s 149, 155 & 117 Car(g)]. Added by Gary Woloski, 11/28/14.

Given the antagonistic relationship between Hans Lang + Randolph James vs. Hudson Bradshaw, why was Fetchin' Gretchen riding around with Bradshaw in his car? Bay Shores is looking more and more like Peyton Place West. There is more than just unsafe chemistry here. lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.

In the last scene Paul said he wasn't a fisherman and needed Perry to explain why he thought the witness was a fake. Paul went fishing with Perry a few times, including episodes 12 and 131. Submitted by H. Mason 3/17/15
+ He and Perry are also fishing in episode 229 TCOT Telltale Tap Submitted by HamBurger 10/10/2016.

Possible explanation: Paul went fishing with Perry, but that doesn't mean he took to it ... my wife has gone to car shows with me, but she's no gearhead like I am! Submitted by MikeReese 3/22/15
+ Answer: Beer or bait. Perry had the bait, Paul had the beer. HamBurger 8/28/2016

Question: Why did Mrs. Bradshaw wear the diamond clip when she knew Natalie was coming for drinks? Submitted by H. Mason 3/17/15

Possible Answer(s): Considering that Natalie was blackmailing her, Mrs. Bradshaw was just getting her payment out, and ready. Suppose Mr. Bradshaw had been present - she'd have had to explain why she was going into her jewelry box to get something, had Natalie hinted at her 'payment'. By wearing it, she'd need no explaining of why she had it out. Or, she just hoped this time Natalie would let her off the hook; notice that she insisted on her having another drink. Maybe to get her a bit fuzzy, so she'd forget? Submitted by MikeReese 3/22/15
+ I wonder if Mrs. Bradshaw, evidently unwilling to call Natalie's bluff, ever considered investing in less expensive baubles. However, this episode did take place about 12 years before the commercial production of cubic zirconia. lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.
++ Yes, but paste has been around since Roman times. OLEF641 7/6/21

The Article 1 "promote the Progress of...useful arts" clause relates to patents; "On May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln received Patent 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals...which was never manufactured. However, it... made him the only...President to hold a patent," notes. Mike Bedard 3.17.15.

Could you explain more what this refers to? I didn't hear Lang-James talk about patenting their formula and process. lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.

Lang, Emile Genest reminds me of Henry Kissenger especially with the glasses. Submitted by HamBurger, Sep. 15, 2019

+ Genest reminds me of Rod Steiger in one of his many disguises. dped. 1/31/24.

Spoiler Warning! Do Not Read Below If You Have Not Seen The Episode

Near the end of the trial, Perry suddenly produced an "old hat", which he claimed had inside it some hairs of the murderer. The murderer had worn the hat as a disguise while driving the hit and run vehicle. How did Perry get the hat, and how did he know whose hairs were inside it? Or was this just a successful bluff? lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.

The use of the hit and run vehicle depended not only in Randolph James abandoning his station wagon in a public parking lot for hours with the ignition key left somewhere inside the vehicle, but also on the murderer knowing about the location of the key. How did the murderer find out? Common gossip among the very-close-knit community? Granted, Randolph James could have been setting himself up with an alibi for murdering his wife -- "Lots of people knew about my leaving the key inside." (How did he feel about driving it after it was used to kill his wife?) lowercase masonite, 3/23/16.

...and in charging Randolph, there is the assumption he somehow knew his wife was visiting Helen and the exact moment she left for home. DOD 02/19/21

Although the premiere of Scooby-Doo was still more than five years away when this episode aired, Mrs. Bradshaw's post-confession jab at Marion Devlin is curiously anticipatory of the well known tag line from that series: "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for your meddling!" TriviaSleuth, 5/14/2020

<< Fifty Millionth Frenchman | Episodes | Arrogant Arsonist >>