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#246: The Case of the
Impetuous Imp
Original Airdate: 10/10/65

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Perry rescues a beautiful writer—Diana Carter—from the ocean in his boat and then must dive in and rescue her twice more—in the courtroom. The first time is for jewel theft and the second is for a charge of murder. (What kind of company does this girl keep?)

The evidence to clear Diana lies at the bottom of the ocean, a forged note inside a bottle inside a sunken yacht. Perry pulls this one off, with a lot of help from his good friend Paul.

This is the episode where Diana Carter is so grateful to be cleared that she dedicates her first mystery novel to Paul and titles it The Amorous Adventures of Paul Lake, Private Eye.

Credits Edit

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Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanly Gardner’s The Case of THE IMPETUOUS IMP
based on The Case of The Negligent Nymph
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman


Directed by Arthur Marks
Teleplay by William Bast
Arthur Marks \ Art Seid | Producers
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Ernest Frankel | Story Consultant
Orville H. Hampton | Associate Story Consultant

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Richard Anderson as Lt. Steve Drumm
Dan Tobin as Terrence Clay

Music | Richard Shores


Stuart Erwin as Henry Simmons
Bonnie Jones as Diana Carter
Hanna Landy as Helga Dolwig
Don Dubbins as Bill Vincent
Jeff Cooper as Henning Dolwig
Frank Marth as Mike Carson
Richard Webb as Addison Powell
James McCallion as Harvey Blake
Byron Morrow as Judge Brawley
Michael Fox as Dr. Lund
Ed Prentiss as Judge Morton
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Clay Tanner as Officer
Helen Gerald as Matron
Rand Brooks as Trainer
Wally West as Shelter Man

Uncredited Actors
Don Anderson as:

  • Shelter Man #2
  • Courtroom Spectator


Director of Photography … John M. Nickolaus, Jr.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Gordon A. Webb
Film Editor … Richard H. Cahoon, A.C.E.
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Bob Wolfe, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Carl Biddiscombe
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … Marshall Schlom
Theme Composed by … Fred Steiner

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

production number 0837

Trivia Edit

Goof: See the dog jump into the water and swim towards the boat? Why would he do that? To get the girl? Not at all. He’s just fetching a ball somebody threw out there. See here. Submitted by Tammy, on the phone, c. 3/8/2004.

Richard Webb (pictured) makes his second and final appearance on Perry Mason. Richard Webb’s most famous role was as Captain Midnight for 3 years and 38 episodes in the 1950s. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 14 October 2009.

Frank Marth makes His 2nd & Final appearance on the original PM. Frank was in "The New Perry Mason: TCOT Murdered Murderer" in 1973, the same year as his only "Ironside" role in "The Best Laid Plans" [IMDb]. Mike Bedard 2.11.15.

This episode of Perry Mason (TCOT Impetuous Imp) and the first season episode TCOT Negligent Nymph (#12, 1.12) are both based on the same Erle Stanley Gardner novel titled The Case of the Negligent Nymph. So this current episode is often considered to be a "re-make" of the first season episode TCOT Negligent Nymph. See repeated episodes here. Submitted by Charles Richmond, 26 April 2013.

Dog Handlers: Two humane society attendants capture the “vicious” German shepherd. One is clearly an animal handler. The other is Don Anderson, who lets the poor dog out the closet and then pretends to be helping while letting the real handler put the loop around the dog. He turns up later as a spectator in the courtroom gallery. Submitted by gracenote, 5/13/2011.
+ The German shepherd is named Fritz, but he receives no credit. Submitted by gracenote, 5/13/2011.
++ Anderson's active partner is played by Rand Brooks who should have known all about handling German shepherds from playing Corporal Boone on the Rin Tin Tin show from 1954-57. Submitted by FredK 28 Dec 2011.
+++ This dog is pretty obviously one of the TV Rin-Tin-Tin line of German Shepherds (unrelated to the original Rinty), and the overdubbed barking comes from the TV show as well. Submitted by catyron, July 21st, 2018
++++ 'Fritz' was (at least) the fourth animal to "testify": a parrot, a burro and a myna bird(?)had appeared in court previously, while a lame canary gave evidence ex curia. Notcom, 081319.

Character Names: When Lt. Drumm comes to arrest Miss Carter, he addesses her as “Diane” rather than “Diana.” Submitted by gracenote, 5/13/2011.
+ It sounds as though Helga, in her restaurant talking with Perry, Della and Paul, also calls Ms Carter "Diane". jfh 10Mar2017.

Sightings: In cutaways to the defendant, we find a blurry Pencil Mustache Man. Also, Quiet Old Man #1 is visible on prosecutor’s side, in the back. Little Old Lady #1 is very prominent in a number of shots of Lt. Drumm. More about these folks here. Submitted by gracenote, 5/13/2011.
+ That looks like Miss Carmody sitting behind Lt. Drumm in court. Submitted by JazzBaby, 6/21/2019.

This is the second of two PM appearances for Bonnie Jones (Diana Carter), who had a recurring role as Lt. Barbara Bannerman on the television series "M*A*S*H"...MikeM. 3/10/2017

This is the fourth of seven Perry appearances for Don Dubbins, and the first in which his character is associated with the District Attorney's office. jfh 10Mar2017.

Continuity: In the opening scene when Diana jumps out the window she grabs at her shoulder as if her dress is caught but it's clearly not. After the cut shot now her dress is snagged on the window. Later, she is seen running with a bottle but when she dives into the water the bottle is missing. She swims to Perry's boat with free hands but when she gets to the boat suddenly she has the bottle again to hand to Perry. Submitted by Kilo 1/21/2018.

Just watched this scene carefully - hard to tell, but she may have the bottle in her right hand as she swims, although it switches to her left hand climbing into the boat. DOD 03/26/19
+ You made me go back and take a closer look. She is, indeed, holding the bottle in her right hand as she swims toward the boat. It is mostly obscured behind her forearm. Using pause and zoom I stand corrected. Kilo 7/27/2019. PS, upon this closer examination I see that the person who dives in off the dock is a stuntwoman/man. (Longer hair, muscular arms) Kilo.

Perry's boat (the Cerberus?) is extraordinary. The below deck area is huge compared to the exterior shot. There's a separate room (for changing out of wet clothes) and a port hole complete with curtains! I also notice a stuffed toy horse on the shelf. And oddly, there's the record player that was in Bob's dorm room in the previous episode, TCOT Cheating Chancellor. Submitted by Kilo 1/21/2018
+ I believe the Cerberus is Diana's boat for two reasons: 1. when Diana boards Perry's boat, she says her own boat is around the bend and I believe she calls it the Cerberus; 2. because, as Diana is coming out of the changing room, Perry says he's been reading Diana's manuscripts, he would not have her manuscripts on his own boat so they must have been aboard hers. [Interesting (to me, anyway), in Greek mythology, Cerberus is the monstrous multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving.] jfh 20Jul2018.
++ You are correct, jfh. I re-watched this episode today and heard Diana call her boat the Cerberus in the opening scene. I also must confess confusing Perry's boat with the Cerberus in my description above. Kilo 10/26/2018.
+++ Absolutely, they are on her boat the Cerberus in the changing scene! She wouldn't have had clothes to change into on Perry's boat, for one thing. And it's hard to imagine Perry having a stuffed toy horse on his fishing boat! Submitted by JazzBaby, 6/21/2019.

This is the final of four PM appearances for Stuart Erwin (Henry Simmons), who received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in the 1937 film "Pigskin Parade". The movie marked the feature film debut of Judy Garland, playing Stuart Erwin's sister. Stuart Erwin died of a heart attack in 1967, at the age of 64...MikeM. 7/20/2018
+ In all four appearances (The Case of the Impetuous Imp (1965), The Case of the Scandalous Sculptor (1964), The Case of the Double-Entry Mind (1962), The Case of the Posthumous Painter (1961)) he seems to play the same nervous-, high-strung-type character. jfh 20Jul2018.

This is the only Perry appearance for Jeff Cooper, who had many television credits including a semi-recurring role (19 episodes from 1979-81) as Dr. Simon Ellby on the nighttime drama Dallas. jfh 20Jul2018.

Michael Fox, Coroner for Hire Out of the 25 PM episodes in which Michael Fox appeared as the Autopsy Surgeon / Coroner's Physician, this is one out of 3 in which he is NOT either unnamed or is named Dr. Hoxie. He is Dr. Lund in this episode, Dr. Samuel Anders in TCOT Prodigal Parent, and Abe Heyman in TCOT Bogus Buccaneers. He also played Coroner George McLeod in about 25 episodes of Burke's Law. Submitted by catyron, July 21st, 2018

Inflationary "Access Fees" - The $10 Paul initially offers for a ride to the beach side of the Simmons Estate would be about $85 today (2021); the $25 he ends up paying ("I could go round-trip to San Francisco for that!") would be nearly $225. Incidentally, I checked prices for a round-trip ticket to SF; the lowest unrestricted fare, leaving today, was on Southwest and cost $373. OLEF641 9/7/21
+ Paul was speaking literally (or close to it) Notcom 090721.

Comments Edit

Same Old Story - Both the police and Burger's office go out of their way to bar Perry from the crime scene. How is that not unconstitutional? Burger claims it's because his underling Bill Vincent isn't done processing the scene. He is being protective because Burger ribbed him about losing to Perry earlier in the episode. In a capital crime that could carry the death penalty, procedure becomes really important due to likelihood of appeals. Perry must have access to any and all evidence to adequately defend his client, even in a pre-trial hearing. If he isn't given have that evidence in a timely manner, anything that comes after that is tainted fruit. Incidentally, how can they hold a pre-trial hearing if the crime scene is still being processed? Why does the show always insist upon setting up an adversarial relationship between Perry and the police? He has helped them many many times including in this episode so he and Paul deserve some consideration. Considering the point of all of their jobs is justice, wouldn't it be more productive to share evidence with the defense attorney to avoid looking like fools when he unmasks the real murderer? Would be so much more interesting to see the police and Perry working together instead of against each other. So frustrating. Submitted by DellaMason

Putting the Air in Airhead Diana was inordinately trusting when she agreed to meet a man who had just made it very clear he could potentially sexually assault her if she didn't make the right choice. He already got very handsy when he was offering her the proposition. There was absolutely no reason she couldn't tell Perry about the meeting with Addison since he didn't really have a permanent claim to her aunt's estate. By 1965, I was really hoping the show might do away with airhead females always making the wrong decisions. And why DO they keep remaking old episodes? According to Raymond Burr, he was offered and accepted a 10th season when he read in the paper that the network had cancelled the show. If the producers were planning on continuing and taken by surprise by the network, why wouldn't they try to keep the show fresh? Submitted by DellaMason

As noted in the opening credits, this episode is based on the Erle Stanley Gardner novel, The Case of the Negligent Nymph.

The first season's TCOT Negligent Nymph was so much better. The dress that Sally Fenner and Diana Carter wear when they swim to the boat is remarkably similar, however. Submitted by Miss Carmody, 15 April 2024.

When going over the crime scene with Perry, Steve notes the body was surrounded by blood, it was a “real mess”. Someone did a great job getting the stains out of that carpet! DOD 05/10/22

At 15:39 on the 2013 Region 1 Paramount DVD, Baby Doll Diana is wearing reading glasses while typing her future best-seller. But at 04:03 she can easily read, without her glasses, the hand-written note from the bottle. Perhaps because the writing is larger? And her typewriter has elite type? (I see that Diana's aunt had time to write out 11 lines on the note, but didn't even include such info as the date and time that she wrote the note, Addison's family name, or the name of the ship.) Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 07/05/13.

Don Dubbins joins H.M.Wynant and Walter Burke in having appeared as suspects and prosecutors. DOD 03/26/19

TCOT Scholarly Scriptwriter Kudos to the scriptwriter--or to ESG, if this detail came from his novel!--for naming Diana's boat the Cerberus! The reference to the three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades, the Greek Hell, is subtle and clever. Not only is Fritz, the German Shepherd, a threat to Diana in the opening scene, he is a worse threat to his beloved owner, Helga, who is revealed as the killer by his "testimony" in court. Welcome to Hell, Helga! Submitted by JazzBaby, 6/21/2019.

Furore Teutonico apparently no longer fearing censure from the UN. PM was particularly rich in overwrought ethnics in its final season: Helga's outburst - MURDERERS MUST NOT GO FREE !!! - was the first of a smorgasbord featuring German, Italian, Cockney and go along, of course, with the overacting Americans. Notcom, 071019.

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