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#25: The Case of the
Empty Tin
Original Airdate: 03/08/58

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
A deceased war veteran’s estate and his long-lost daughter set the scene for murder and deceit. Perry must set the facts straight and help the daughter, Doris Hocksley, regain her identity and fortune.

Credits Edit

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Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s
The Case of The Empty Tin
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins


Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Teleplay by Seeleg Lester
Ben Brady | Producer
Produced by CBS Television in association with Paisano Productions
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Sam White | Associate Producer

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg


Toni Gerry as Doris Hocksley
Warren Stevens as Alan Neil
Olive Deering as Rebecca Gentrie
Benson Fong as Gow Loong
Mary Shipp as Miriam Hocksley
Anthony Jochim as Elston Carr
Frank Wilcox as Judge
Otto Waldis as John Lowell
Bert Holland as Dr. Morton

Uncredited Actors
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Dean Casey as Sanchez
Don Anderson as Courtroom Spectator (added by gracep 10/7/2010)


Gene Wang | Story Editor

Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lyle Wheeler, Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Robert G. Stone
Editorial Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard Cahoon, A.C.E.
Makeup … Mel Berns
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Set Decorations … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Rerecording Mixer … Robert O’Brien
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese

This has been a CBS Television Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.

production number 030

Trivia Edit

In the opening scene, John Lowell deftly tears an ad from a newspaper and hands it to Doris Hocksley. As she looks at it, we see there’s no printing on the back. How odd! See here. Submitted by Eli Kaminsky, 10/3/2005.
+This was done for photography reasons. Thin paper and dark ink on the reverse would bleed through in the studio lights. Interesting that they made such an effort! Jared 15May2021
Check out the photo behind Lowell's right shoulder in the link provided by Eli Kaminsky above. It appears to be a professional baseball player. Does anyone recognize him? Otto Gervaert, 7/2/21.
Small world: Miriam Hocksley (played by Mary Shipp) says “My father’s name was Adam Hocksley. He had a biblical turn of mind. He called me Miriam.” Olive Deering, who plays Rebecca Gentrie, also had a blibical turn of mind. She played Miriam in the biblical epics The Fifteen Commandments and Sampson and Delilah. Submitted by Charles Richmond, 12/23/2005.
+ "According to the Hebrew bible, Miriam was the older sister of Moses and Aaron. She was also a prophetess in her own right...Miriam first appears in the biblical book of Exodus...[she] also appears in the biblical book of Numbers," observes. Mike Bedard, posted 4.23.15 Before MeTV's airing of TCOT ET.
++ Teleplay writer Seeleg Lester had a "Biblical turn of mind": "Judas" of New Testament infamy is mentioned & "Rebecca" was "the wife of Isaac, mother of Esau and Jacob. Gen. 24-27 [Webster's Unab. Dict.]." Mike Bedard, posted After watching ET with Lapcat Tigger/sister Winnie by my side.
+++Small World 2: In a strange twist...
(see below: continued under first Spoiler Warning)

Tragg finds the combination to the safe inside Elston Carr’s pocket watch. Then, he sees the dial is already on 13, and only needs to be turned to number 4 to open the safe. But the print man had already told Tragg the dial had been “wiped clean,” so it’s highly unlikely the dial would have still been in the precise spot.

Elston Carr’s house number is 3972 as seen twice on the curb outside his home. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 1 December 2009.
+ That's the number painted on the curb. However, the house number in the newspaper ad is 133. JohnK, 30 October 2018

Another episode that contains multiple murders. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 1 December 2009.
+ Indeed, at least two and maybe three, depending on the accuracy of Tragg's prognosis... or lets just say it has two-point-six. Added by Notcom, 081216.

I do believe this is our only attempted triple murder. DOD 06/18/20
+ Episode #62, "TCOT Howling Dog," has three murders, but it could be argued that the original novel has only two--the third killing in the novel being an act of self-defense. (And neither count includes the shooting of the non-howling dog.) Submitted by BobH, 31 May 2021.

Uncredited Actors: Don Anderson is a courtroom spectator in the last row on Burger’s side of the aisle near the door. Submitted by FredK, 7 October 2010.
+ We have two uncredited actors playing plainclothesmen. (See Credits, above). Submitted by gracenote, 8/31/2011.

Sightings: It’s easy to miss, but an un-hatted plainclothesman dusting for fingerprints behind Tragg is none other than Pencil Mustache Man. Later, the Man and several other cohorts—Distinguished Lady #2, Little Old Lady #2, and Little Old Lady #1—appear in the courtroom gallery. Distinguished Gentleman #1 is the court reporter, again. Submitted by gracenote, 8/31/2011.
+The Distinguished Lady #4 sits on Perry's side of the courtroom. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 11, 2016.

Benson Fong appeared in 4 Perrys, including Caretaker's CAT: 1 of my Favorites. Cat-Person Mike Bedard 4.21.15
+ Viewers will remember Benson Fong as one of Charlie Chan's sons (#3 I believe) along with appearances on TV's Kung Fu. Submitted by HamBurger, 9/9/2017
++ This episode and TCOT Caretaker's Cat feature both Benson Fong and Anthony Jochim together in the same type of roles. Submitted by HamBurger, 1/1/2023

Syndication cuts: In the hospital, Mason telling Doris that he'll get answers from John Lowell and his trip to San Francisco along with the truth about Gow Loong and John Lowell; the argument between Mason and Burger over the word pretender.
Additional Hallmark cuts: [In the original/syndicated versions the Alan/Doris conversation begins with a long shot with Alan saying "That's quite a history" and asking what her father looked like. Then a closer shot of Doris and Alan with Doris saying she doesn't remember and only had an impression of him. This dialogue was cut from the Hallmark version and the next line, her saying that she was only a child the last time she saw him, was dubbed over the long shot with the rest of the conversation following]; Carr saying his nephew Alan is helping to find Adam's daughter, needing Mason to do the job right and telling him to look at the check; Perry asking Miss Gentrie on the phone if Carr was shot, her saying she saw him on the floor, someone else is in the room, she think's he dead and what should she do?; Tragg asking Miss Gentrie if she left Carr alone and Rebecca saying yes, returning and seeing the light in the room which wasn't unusual because he often works late; part of Paul and Perry's conversation concerning where the action was; [In the original/syndicated versions Mason asks Doris in the hospital if the photo had rounded corners, she responds she doesn't remember and asks how Lowell could have brought her a photo she threw away and Mason saying he could have duplicated it, Mason sighs, then gets up and makes a comment about Burger prosecuting. In the Hallmark version after Doris says she doesn't remember about rounded corners, the scene cuts to Mason sighing with a piece of music dubbed over it to indicate the end of an act and the scene ends.]; Burger asking Dr. Morton on the stand about the distance the fatal shots were fired and the response, 6 to 9 feet; Burger asking Miss Gentrie if Doris was in the courtroom and her response, next to Mason; Mason asking Tragg about the significance of the photo not fitting in the tin and the response, none; during Miriam's testimony, Mason objecting about hearsay evidence, Burger's response, the judge permitting the question and Burger asking Miriam if he should repeat the question and the response, no; Burger's objecting over Mason's asking Miriam where she was on the night of the murder, Mason's response and the judge allowing it; part of Mason trying to break apart the empty tin, smashing it against his knee and Burger exclaiming that it's state's evidence; [In the original/syndicated versions Mason tells Miss Gentrie "a bride and groom practically on their honeymoon, the bride shoots the bridegroom" all on a close-up of Mason. In the Hallmark version the first line is cut and the beginning of the second "the bride shoots the" is dubbed over the footage of Mason saying "a bride and groom"]. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/21/12.

Closed-captioning oddities: When Tragg asks Doris a question and she doesn't respond, Mason says in explanation "Shock, Tragg." In the aired versions, the closed-captioning reads "She's out, Tragg." Also, during Miriam's testimony she states "[Mason] told me that [Doris] knew where the key evidence was." Burger asks "Was that in the safe in Elston Carr's library?" Mason objects, the judge permits the question and Burger asks if he should repeat the question and Miriam responds, "No. He told me that she knew the evidence was in the safe." Hallmark cut the objection, the judge and the offer to repeat the question and the response, no. However, the word "no," which appears on the same line as the rest of the response in the closed-captioning, stayed in. Someone just reading the captions of the Hallmark version would see Burger asking a question and the witness saying no, then answering the question in the affirmative. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/21/12.

Unsolved mysteries: What happened to John Lowell? Submitted by H. Mason 10/6/14

Sponsored Items: I watched this episode on MeTV and once again I saw the same FOUR sponsored items pictured at the end in episode 7, 21, and 23 show up here. Once again, I WAS ABLE to see that the FIRST one was actually "Sweetheart Soap", as helpfully provided by Wiseguy70005 on 4/14/15 for episode #7. The picture and lettering were VERY clear again. ;-> The Second was "New Blue Dutch Cleanser". The Third was "trend" (with a lower case, "T"). The Fourth was "Beads-O'-Bleach". Submitted by mesave31, 04/23/15.

According to Wikipedia, Warren Stevens began his acting career after serving as a pilot in the US Army Air Corps during World War II...MikeM. 8/11/2016

This is the first of twenty episodes where Seeleg Lester is listed for teleplay or writer. He would be listed as story consultant on thirty other episodes...MikeM. 8/11/2016

The photo of the three men in China is an obvious composite. The men have been "photoshopped" onto the street scene. Submitted by Kilo 5/27/2017.
+ Ha Ha. I just realized Perry actually uses the words "photo shop" in the episode! Kilo 12/16/2018.
++ Doris also says "photo shop", as does Paul. jfh 05Jun2019

This is the only PM appearance for Toni Gerry, who was born in Utah as Antoinette Newman. Toni Gerry took the surname of her first husband, actor Alex Gerry. Alex Gerry would also have a single PM appearance...MikeM. 5/24/2018

An oddity? The actresses who play Doris and Miriam are 32 and 43, respectively. Miriam certainly looks significantly older than Doris. Given the strict proof of identity that Carr demands, wouldn't he have had some idea of the age of the woman for whom he was searching? Wouldn't the gap in their ages have made one of them less than believable? Submitted by JazzBaby, 7/10/2019.
+ Oddity Grand Central: the ad itself said the daughter would be "about thirty", so I would say beyond odd...just plain sloppiness in the script. But that's not all; tho Perry praises Miriam's efforts, it's not clear why: she doesn't seem to have any evidence at all, beyond her claim that her father's name was Adam. Furthermore, is her secret marriage to Alan supposed to lead us to believe theyr'e conspiring to defraud? It would seem to be a major plot point, but it's never discussed. Nor, for that matter is the seeming absurdity that Carr wouldn't (even) know the name of his partner's daughter. One of those episodes you just have to watch...and not think about the details too much. Notcom 121423.

Matisse: At 46:44, when Perry and Tragg are at the Neale apartment, after everyone else has left, Perry stops and pauses for a while in front of a small picture on the wall which is hung crookedly. This is a framed copy of the 1946 lithograph "Seated Woman with Guitar" by Henri Matisse, which was copied from Matisse's own 1939 original painting "Girl in Yellow and Blue with Guitar." The original painting had been purchased by Paul Rosenberg in Paris when it was new, but was confiscated from Rosenberg (a Jew) by the Nazis, transferred to the Louvre Museum, and by 1944 was in the possession of Herman Göring. In 946 it was was still of disputed ownership as "spoils of war" and the colour lithograph was published. In 1947 the original painting was returned to Paul Rosenberg and he sold it to the McCormick family. Eventually it was bequeathed by them to the Art Institute of Chicago. Submitted by catyron, November 27, 2020.

@ 9:55 when Mason opens and closes his office door for Doris the sound of the opening and closing of the door are out of sync (a bit too early) for the video. Wiseguy70005, 4/01/24.

Comments Edit

CARS: No cars. From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.

Erle Stanley Gardner published his novel The Case of The Empty Tin in 1941. This episode has the same name, but little else in common with that novel. In the novel, Perry never enters the courtroom. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 27 May 2009.

In Erle Stanley Gardner’s 1941 novel, The Case of the Empty Tin, the character of Arthur Tragg makes his first appearance. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 27 May 2009.

Those of us of a certain age best remember Warren Stevens as the accidental victim of the Krell ‘plastic educator’ in “Forbidden Planet”. DOD 06/18/20

The paneling in the Carr home with the oval pattern appeared in the nightclub scenes in the previous “Deadly Double”. DOD 07/02/21

The judge calls a recess to allow Miriam time to come to court, then she appears on the stand immediately after. The only reason for this ‘break’ seems to be to give Little Old Lady a chance to change seats.

Lowell sure cleaned out his camera shop quickly.

Frank Wilcox plays the judge in this episode, his fifth of seven appearances as a judge in the prolific first season of the series. He gets to show a bit more of a human side than most actors did in that role. First, he shows considerable amusement at Mason and Burger’s wrangling over the meaning of the word “pretender.” Later Wilcox delivers what is (in my opinion) the best line given to a judge in 271 episodes. As Mason starts to dismantle the empty tin, Burger begins to splutter in protest. Wilcox says: “If Mr. Mason's going to crawl out on a limb, the least we can do is let him saw it off.” Submitted by FredK 17, Oct 2010.
+ Hamilton Burger's spluttering is "that's state's evidence" a perfect outburst for what he is known for wrangling with Mason. Submitted by HamBurger, 5/30/2021

Hallmark Movie Channel starts the week with this episode, #25, following Sunday's marathon of episodes 1-24. But FIOS has continued to list show info sequentially from last Friday's episode #217, and yesterday's two dozen marathon episodes, which were also mislabeled. FIOS thinks today's first show is #242. Submitted by MikeM, 10/9/2012.

It always strikes me as odd that Doris threw away a photograph from her father with a note written on the back. jfh 08Jan2024

The newspaper ad mentioned adventures in China from 1931-56 & Elston Carr said "we trafficked in arms, ammunition and information": China went through a Japanese occupation, civil war & Communist takeover in those 25 years. Mike Bedard 4.23.15

"Soon after he was born, the family moved to China and lived there for five years": Mike Bedard 4.23.15

Della's Shoes Della wears her high-heeled mules in this episode --- and she wears them well. jfh 05Jun2019

A glimpse of the elegant Ms. Street in her elegant boudouir wearing her elegant dressing gown. A glimpse of Perry at home in his dressing gown [and some mighty spiffy fireplace grates --- jfh 08Jan2024], and another of Perry in his pajamas asleep on his sofa using sofa cushions for pillows. jfh 05Jun2019

And a glimpse of Perry’s hirsute chest! Cheesecake and beefcake. DOD 08/03/23
Olive Deering definitely wins this episode's Virginia Fields Scenery-Chewing award! Ed Zoerner, 5/17/17

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

Doris ‘beats the rap’, but, alas, it would also seem she loses out on all that money, since it would have been officially a gift from Elston, not an inheritance. DOD 06/18/20
+Maybe Perry found a way to link Elston's money to the original partnership, and Doris would then be an heir. Fred Flintstone 12/16/2020
++ When Miriam is on the stand (why did the writers make Miriam not show up in court at the time she was subpoenaed?), Burger states to Miriam that an Administrator had been assigned to Adam Hocksley's estate. jfh 08Jan2024

(Small World 2 continued): In a strange twist, Olive Dearing gets to play Miriam once again when, in this episode, she calls Perry pretending to be Miriam Hocksley about to commit suicide. Submitted by Charles Richmond, 10/11/2007.

For the fourth time in the first twenty-five episodes:

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 4-10-2014.

How did Rebecca get Della's phone number? The only reason for Rebecca to call Perry (through Della) was so she could get his private number, then make the mistake of calling it while pretending to be Miriam. This would have been a great mystery if it hadn't been established in at least three previous stories that Perry could be called after hours using the night number at the Paul Drake Detective Agency. Submitted by H. Mason 10/6/14
+In her call to Perry, Della stated that Rebecca called "the service" (answering service, I presume) asking for Perry's private number; the service called Della and Della called Perry for authorization. jfh 12May2017.
Rebecca kills Elston when he catches her at the safe. Why was she trying to get in the safe, anyway? DOD 06/18/20
+ Good question. I suspect the answer has to be to tamper with/destroy whatever evidence Elston is keeping in the safe to prevent Miriam (and her new husband Alan) from getting the $2 million gift, or to tip off Doris so that she knows what to do to perfect her claim. Bad enough that Alan dumped Rebecca; he's not going to get the money too! This was certainly not explained in the wrap-up. Deduced by OldDave on 6/18/20. ++Jealous Rebecca was likely at the safe to mess up Alan's plan, maybe just to destroy the evidence or give it to Doris, as mentioned above. Fred Flintstone 12/16/2020
+++ I always assumed that Alan instructed Rebecca to try and get the evidence which he knew would vindicate Doris. At that time Rebecca did not know that Alan was going to marry/had married Mariam. Submitted by Wick 1/18/2022

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