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#202: The Case of the
Arrogant Arsonist
Original Airdate: 03/05/64

Summary Edit

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 (Potentiometer) 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.

Credits Edit

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Starring Raymond Burr
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

Uncredited Actors
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Robert Wegner as Door Bailiff (spotted by gracenote, 2/14/2011)
Don Anderson as:

  • Firefighter
  • Courtroom Spectator


“Perry Mason”
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

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

Trivia Edit

Anomaly: Tommy Farrell, listed as Herbert Baker, is called Mr. Herbert in the show, twice by Perry. [Mitch English]

Location: Look for the real L.A.F.D Fire Station 99 in this episode. See here. Submitted by Steve Fox, 1/12/2005. Additional info from Barbara Brafman, 1/13/2005.

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.
+"Miss Carmody" appears on end of the row behind Perry and the defendant, with darker hair and a chic new hairstyle. Submitted by Miss Carmody, 3 Nov. 2023.

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), (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 ( appears to be kaput as of this date. An internet search returned many urls but all are returning "Error 404, Not Found". :-( Hopefully, it's just temporary. Kilo, 9/12/2018.
++ 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 Penner. 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.
++++Is this the only time that Perry winks at someone? (in this case, Gertie). Submitted by Miss Carmody, 3 Nov. 2023.

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
+ Sadly, beautiful Elaine Devry died on September 20, 2023, age 93. jfh 17Oct2023

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.

Comments Edit

Anyone know why Barbara Hale has been absent these last few episodes? Was it a surgery or...? Also, Raymond Burr is really putting on weight. It's very noticeable in the past few episodes.

It seemed a bit ridiculous and overdramatic to have the first person ever handcuffed on the show turn out to be a 70-year old former fireman. Was that really necessary? What did they think he was going to do? What ever happened to respect for former public servants? That said, he is one of the more annoying and unlikable defendants this season. DellaMason 12/23

+I'm guessing that the police aren't overly concerned with what York's former position was. The handcuffs were probably more a reflection on whether or not the person being arrested was "going quietly". Given York's explosive personality (Who throws an ashtray through their television set? Those things are expensive!), I'm guessing he didn't take kindly to being arrested. This, no doubt, resulted in his being restrained. Submitted by Paul's Operative. 4/9/2024.

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.

+In light of the fact that Kennedy had recently been killed, I wonder if the flag ritual was their way of paying tribute in some way? People were feeling very patriotic and suspicious of who was responsible. Oswald was linked with the communists so that could have been the reason for all the Iron Curtain talk in this episode too. DellaMason 12/19/23

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.

After the warehouse manager regains consciousness and runs outside to activate the fire alarm box, he breaks the glass over the switch (there is an attached hammer for just such a purpose), despite the fact that you could clearly just pull the cover down without breaking any glass. In fact, as he is pulling the lever, the little door (now with broken glass) falls open on its own. [Krazy Karl 82 2/17/2023]

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

Would you like fries with that? Are those fries in a carton on the table when Carey York and his son are watching the first newscast? Submitted by Miss Carmody, 3 Nov. 2023.

This is one of those episodes where the victim and defendant are both so obnoxious you almost wish the latter was guilty; 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

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

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.

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