#202: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 03/05/64
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
When retired fire chief Carey York is accused by TV reporter Tommy Towne of burning his own warehouse, he contacts Perry, who tells Towne to broadcast a retraction or face a whopping $1.5 million slander suit. Towne eventually goes on the air to admit his first charge was incorrect, sort of….Carey didn’t torch the building to get the insurance, he says; he did it to keep his son from bankruptcy. A sophisticated machine destroyed in the fire would have helped his son’s competition. Carey never gets a chance to file a second suit against Towne-—the reporter is found dead inside a car at the bottom of a cliff. The car belonged to Carey and that lands the ex-chief in jail for murder.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE ARROGANT ARSONIST
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Written by Samuel Newman
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
Music composed and conducted by Van Cleave
Tom Tully as Carey York
Frank Aletter as Tommy Towne
Jeff York as Ross Walker
Wynn Pearce as Dorian York
Elaine Devry as Sylvia Gwynne
Russell Thorson as Farrell Moorefield
Byron Morrow as Captain Hillman
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Tenen Holtz as Otto Joseph
Holly McIntire as Elaine Joseph
John Gallaudet as Judge
Tommy Farrell as Herbert Baker
Michael Harris as Cameraman
Robert Chadwick as Policeman
Robert Kenneally as Radio Dispatcher
Coby Denton as Phone Dispatcher
Lester Dorr as Bailiff
- Courtroom Spectator
Director of Photography … Howard Schwartz, 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 … 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
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Anomaly: Tommy Farrell, listed as Herbert Baker, is called Mr. Herbert in the show, twice by Perry. [Mitch English]
Location: Vincent Thomas Bridge. A pan shot of this bridge is used to open the scene by the fireboat dock. See here. Submitted by Mitch English, 3/3/2005, and D.A. Supernaw, 3/4/2005.
+ Also seen in the pan shot is L.A. City No. 2 (Fireboat). [unsigned]
+ This bridge is also seen in #189, TCOT Floating Stones. Submitted by catyron, June 4th, 2018
Carey York pays a night time visit to Fire Station 99. Three weeks later, Perry also pays a night time visit to Fire Station 99. In both instances, 3 weeks apart, the exact same automobiles (5 at least), are parked in the exact same places. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 13 Dec 2014.
+ Not too unusual. They could have been reserved spaces. Also in the 80s I worked at a small business (7 employees) and you could go there days, weeks or months apart and see the same vehicles in the same spaces. Submitted by H. Mason 3/18/15
++ Agreed. I was idly Googling my employer's address on the map application, and even though the scene was a year old, the time the picture was taken showed everyone's cars in the same parking spots, for the most part, as that day! Submitted by MikeReese, 4/9/2016
Russell Thorson makes his final of four appearance on Perry, and his first since 1959. Russell Thorson is best known as a prolific old time radio actor, most notably as Jack Packard on I Love a Mystery. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 5/13/2009.
Holly McIntire, in a role reminiscent of those played by her mother, is the daughter of Jeanette Nolan, a 6-time Perry Mason player. Submitted by daveb, 1/5/2011.
+ This is the only PM appearance for Holly McIntire, the daughter of actors John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan...MikeM. 1/9/2017
Sightings: Quiet Old Man #1 is briefly visible in the courtroom gallery, along with Distinguished Gentleman #1. More here. Submitted by daveb, 1/5/2011. Updated by gracenote, 2/14/2011.
All Fire Vehicles seen in this episode were in-service with LAFD when filmed. The LAFD Historical Archive aided identification immensely. Where specific identification by "Shop Number" is made below, go down the leftmost column of the Apparatus List to find the vehicle (small numbers on lower vehicle doors are the Shop#) . Vehicles, in order of appearance are:
- (1) A 1945 Pirsch Triple 1250/200 is first out of the station, Center bay, at 04:43. "Triple 1250/200" = 1250gpm pump, 200gal tank, with hose. Quad = Triple + ground ladders. Quint = Quad + aerial ladder.
- (2) A 1960-1963 Seagrave 100' Aerial Ladder Truck is 2nd out of Station 27 at 04:45 (6th photo down). Common nomenclature is "Tractor Drawn Aerial" (TDA). Best photos are by The Road Ranger (scroll down to last 3 photos, from blog for Tues Mar 12, 2013). See in action here. A different truck was filmed arriving at warehouse fire, see "29" on truck side at 05:14 indicating "Truck 29", Shop No 60037.
- (3) A 1961- 1963 Crown Triple 1500/400 follows. Here's an almost identical LA County 1965 Crown Triple. "Engine 23", Shop Number 60146, is seen at fire at 07:07. See wiki Crown Firecoach, badge, 1961 advert, at LAFD Station 99. Crown Triples in action (beware fake hydrants).
- (4) Possible 1962 GMC Yankee Tank Wagon 150/400 (in image, Right side and 2nd from Left) follows (3),(1) & (2) around the corner at 05:01. It's a GMC 5000 medium truck with a 150 gpm pump & 400 gal tank fitted by Yankee Body Company. 400 USgal water = 54 cu.ft (1.5 cu.m) & weighs 3,400 lb.
- (5) Platoon Commander Moorefield's 1962 Plymouth Savoy 4-Door Sedan, letters "PC" on roof; siren, rotating cherry, & flasher exactly as in linked image. Seen at 05:41, 12:48, 21:35, 25:29 & 28:30. Another is inside Station 99 behind the Crown Triple at 25:21.
- (6) 1955 Yankee/Oshkosh 4x4 Tank Wagon, Shop Number 749 "Tank Wagon 99", at front of Station 99 at 12:38 (behind flagpole). See "T97" here.
- (7) Probable 1953 G.M.C. 5-window Light Truck w/Equipment Locker in lieu of P/U box like this later TV "Squad 51" Paramedic truck. Parked beside the Fireboat Station at 21:35. See Shop #s 730 -739 for year & make.
- (8) 1957 GMC S100 Ambulance, antenna mount on driver's side between rear windows, paint as in image except white roof. At Cliffside recovery site 28:31.
- (9) two 1962 Dodge D-300 Fire Patrol trucks are across the highway from Vehicle(8) as Moorefield arrives in Car(5) at 28:31. Front grill & headlights: 1, 2. See Shop Numbers 60166 -60168.
(1), (6), (7), (8) appear only once each. Appearances of the other Make/Types are not necessarily of exactly the exact-same truck (shop#) each time. I find it a bit grim that the water-tanker bush-fire trucks, which were unfamiliar to me 55 years ago, seem to appear every day on 21st Century TV newscasts. Added by Gary Woloski, 3/9/15.
+ Unfortunately, the LAFD Historical Archive (lafire.com) appears to be kaput as of this date. An internet search returned many lafire.com urls but all are returning "Error 404, Not Found". :-( Hopefully, it's just temporary. Kilo, 9/12/2018.
++ lafire.com working again. Kilo 6/13/2019
+++ Again, thanks to Gary Woloski for the in depth information on the cars, trucks, and other vehicles. The effort is very much appreciated. I have learned much. Submitted by Rickapolis 03/09/22
All the footage of the warehouse fire at the beginning of the episode, other than scenes with episode characters in it, is recycled news footage. OLEF641 7/7/21
Character Names: We finally learn from the bailiff that the name of the judge played by John Gallaudet is Richard Penna. Why this name is omitted from the credits is unknown. Submitted by gracenote, 2/14/2011.
+ In two other episodes, he was Judge . Click on the Actors List in the sidebar, and then click on the letter G. Submitted by gracenote, 8/11/2011.
++ The bailiff introduces him as Benjamin Penner, at 34:46 of the 2012 Paramount DVD. lowercase masonite, 3/29/16.
+++ Maybe the baliff is from New England? OLEF641 7/7/21
Perry quotes from Shakespeare, specifically Hamlet: “The play’s the thing wherein I‘ll catch the conscience of the king.” (The “king” refers to Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, who murdered the Danish prince’s father and married his mother, the widow.) Submitted by gracenote, 2/14/2011.
No Della or Tragg again (despite credit). Miss Street is staying with her aunt, it is explained, but Tragg’s absence merits no mention. Submitted by gracenote, 2/14/2011.
+ On the other hand, Gertie has a rare, nice extended scene with Paul and Perry, including a close-up. Although a receptionist, she is asked to do a secretarial task. Submitted by cgraul, 10/18/2011.
++ AA was Della's 7th absence. "Barbara Hale was one of the original 'Dr. Pepper' girls featured in the soda company's calendars in the 40s/50s," IMDb notes. Mike Bedard 3.18.15
+++ Della's absence and Gertie's extended conversation with Perry and Paul in Perry's office contributed to Towne's ability to barge into Perry's office unannounced. jfh 15Jan2018.
Uncredited Actors: Two show up at the elder York’s arrest: Don Anderson as a fireman and Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice. In the courtroom, Anderson reappears as a courtroom spectator (though he still could be the fireman in civilian clothes), and Robert Wegner stands guard at the door. Submitted by gracenote, 8/11/2011.
Deja Vu: At least three props were recycled from the previous episode, "Frightened Fisherman":
1. The metal, mesh-screened LANG-JAMES LABORATORIES sign now says FIRE STATION 99
2. The radio-phonograph with the raised lid from the beach shack in "Fisherman" is now in Carey York's living room
3. The plank door in Carey's living room with the unusual viewport was also in the "Fisherman" beach shack. Submitted by David H, 10/26/2012.
This is the third of three PM appearances for Elaine Devry, who was married to Mickey Rooney from 1952 to 1958. According to Wikipedia, Elaine Devry is now 88 years old...MikeM. 5/21/2018
The ashtray thrown into the TV is rather odd. The image of Tommy Towne is superimposed on the screen. The TV is actually off. We don't actually see the ashtray hit the screen because it goes behind the superimposed image. Fade out the image and there we see the shattered screen. Also, if you look quick, you'll see the little door at the bottom of the TV open then close. Kilo 6/13/2019.
It’s unusual that in this episode they begin the courtroom scene with an American Flag ritual, the entrance of the judge, and other formal procedures not previously aired. Submitted by gracenote, 2/14/2011.
The opening scene of the assault and arson is a wonderful example of television film noir: the close focus on the crowbar, use of high contrasting light and shadows, camera rack-focusing to follow the slow-moving hand, and the choreography of the fall after the manager is hit. Very nice. Submitted by cgraul, 10/18/2011.
Perry sent Gertie on an errand and he left the office. With Della away who was watching the store? Did Perry take lessons on how to run his business from Constant Doyle? Submitted by H. Mason 3/18/15
For some reason, Perry makes all his office entrances and exits through the back door. When he parks his Lincoln outside the warehouse, there is a noticeable dent on the left front fender. DOD 1/15/18
This is one of those episodes where the victim and defendant are both so obnoxious you almost wish the latter was guilty; no Tragg...no Della...a real bummer. Submitted by Notcom, 040516.
Any episode with Elaine Devry is tops in my book. JohnK, 6 April 2016
Identity Crisis? Tommy Towne's vehicle is an automobile, yet on the door in great big all-caps it clearly says: "TV NEWS TRUCK". OLEF641 7/7/21
It rather amazing how quickly Perry uncovers the whole plot point involving a foreign government. Dorian and Paul supposedly come up through the floor of the warehouse to set their trap for the killer. Wouldn't that have made a lot of noise? DOD 1/15/18
Casey York said that Ross Walker confessed to everything except the national debt. The national debt in 1964 was $311 Billion. Otto Gervaert, 2/22/21.