#250: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 11/07/65
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
Can lightning strike twice? It seems that way to Louise Selff when she stands trial for the murder of her husband, not once, but twice.
Perry gets Louise acquitted of the murder of her husband Jamison because his body was never found. After the trial, Louise is tormented by weird happenings and visions of Jameson. He appears at a séance and she even talks to him on the telephone.
The suspicious part of the affair is that the “ghost” wants Louise to invest money in a new laser process that Jamison had taken an option on. Finally, Jamison Selff does reappear; he has been alive all the time. He is truly murdered the second time around, and poor Louise hires Perry for round two.
Suggested Correction to Summary In the opening scene, Perry's client is not tried and acquitted of her husband's murder, she is simply not bound over for trial after the preliminary hearing. jfh 16Mar2017.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE WRATHFUL WRAITH
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman
Directed by Arthur Marks
Written by Henry Farrell
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
Jeanne Bal as Rosemary Welch
Marion Moses as Louise Selff
Douglas Dick as Ted Harberson
Lee Farr as Glenn Arcott
Gene Lyons as Ralph Balfour
Walter Brooke as Deputy D.A.
Winifred Coffin as Willa Saint Sutton
Robert Easton as Ed Allison
Geraldine Wall as Mrs. Stallman
Byron Morrow as Second Judge
Don Dillaway as First Reporter
Henry Hunter as Doctor
Frank Biro as First Judge
Lester Dorr as Photographer
George Conrad as Second Reporter
Jack Carol as Third Reporter
Cecil Elliott as First Woman
John Hart as Jamison Selff
Mari Lynn as Second Woman
Director of Photography … John M. Nickolaus, Jr.
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 … 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
Automobiles supplied by … Chrevrolet Division of General Motors Corp.
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
This is the only PM appearance of actor Robert Easton, who was also a renowned dialect coach, and was referred to in Hollywood as The Man of A Thousand Voices, working with countless actors on perfecting accents. Easton displayed his talent for dialects on his many Tonight Show appearances. Coincidentally, he co-wrote and appeared in the 1975 cult classic bad movie The Giant Spider Invasion, starring Barbara Hale, and PM alumna Steve Brodie, and Alan Hale (Jr), although Robert and Barbara shared no scenes together. This movie was lampooned mercilessly on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Submitted by Chief Kurtz, 17 January 2022.
It appears that the portrait of Jamison Selff seen in this episode also appears in #227, TCOT Thermal Thief, as Dion. From Tom Stillman via the Perry_Mason Yahoo! group, posted by daveb, 11/14/09.
+ And both were yachtsmen! OLEF641 9/11/21
Anomaly: Are Barney Biro and Frank Biro the same actor? One of the judges in this episode is credited (for the first time) as Frank Biro, who will also portray a judge in one subsequent episode. He looks exactly like Barney Biro who portrayed a judge in five previous episodes. IMDb shows listings for both names, but strangely enough, Barney Biro's filmography covers the years 1953-64, while Frank Biro's runs 1965-1990. Barney Biro's birth/death dates are given as 1914-1993. Frank Biro's dates are not given. I suspect these are alternate names for the same actor, and only one IMDb listing should have been created. Submitted by alan_sings, 12/30/2011.
I noticed that as well when this episode played on MeTV yesterday and had exactly the same feelings. While this may be two men who are brothers, I suspect you are correct. Over the years other actors have appeared with slightly differing names. Barry Atwater has also been billed as G. B. Atwater. And Willis Bouchey who also appeared as a judge was billed as both Willis Bouchey and Willis B. Bouchey, and when appearing on The Andy Griffith Show he was always billed as C. Willis Bouchey. Submitted by PerryDixon 2/4/14
Update - IMDb has now corrected this. Both links above now link to the same page, for Frank Biro (I) (1914–1993) and gives "Alternate Names: Barnet Biro | Barney Biro" in the Personal Details section. His birth name was Barnet Wolf Biro. OLEF641 9/11/21
>>Barnet Biro ?!?! Perhaps we need to begin a Pitkin Watch for the right column of the credits as well !! Notcom 091321.
Gene Lyons would appear as Commissioner Dennis Randall on Raymond Burr's next series Ironside from the pilot movie in 1967 until his death in 1974. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/16/12.
+ Gene also appeared in 3 "FBI"s & a Star Trek: "A Taste of Armageddon," as Federation Ambassador Fox [IMDb]. Mike Bedard 2.18.15.
Jeanne Bal makes the last of her four appearances on Perry Mason. Perry Baby 11/17/13
Incorrect Summary: The Summary incorrectly says that Louise Selff was tried twice. The court proceding we see at the beginning of the episode is a preliminary hearing, not a trial. The judge dismissed the charge because of insufficient evidence. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 2/18/2014.
+ The 5th Amendment states: "Nor shall any person be subject for the Same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb ["Double Jeopardy" Clause]." Mike Bedard 2.18.15.
++ This is not a double jeopardy case. Dismissal of charges at a preliminary hearing does not preclude the DA from filing charges later. PerryFan Steve 3/24/20
+++ IMHO, and I'm not in any way associated with the legal profession, but since Jamison Selff was murdered twice, it wouldn't be the same offense. You can be tried for murder more than once, just not for the same murder again if the prosecution didn't like the first verdict. It would be like throwing a rock through a shop window, getting convicted -- or acquitted -- for the offence, then chucking another rock through the same window. Of course the whole point is moot, since there was no first trial (or murder, for that matter). OLEF641 9/11/21
This is the second of two PM appearances for Marion Moses (Louise Selff), whose second marriage was to a congressman who was a friend of John Wayne. A son from her first marriage, William R. Moses, played Ken Malansky on the Perry Mason television movies...MikeM. 3/16/2017
Libel case for Perry. The headline in the newspaper thrown in the trash after Louise Selff's preliminary hearing where the case is thrown out is "SELFF HEARING TODAY". The caption under Louise Selff's photograph is "HUSBAND SLAYER". Submitted by Kilo 1/25/2018.
This is the first of two PM writing credits for Henry Farrell, who is best known for his novel "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"...MikeM. 3/22/2018
TCOT Substitute Coffee Set: The West Bend Thermo Serv plastic carafe and mugs have migrated to the judge's chamber and he serves Perry and Hamilton. Submitted by catyron, July 25th, 2018
The Staircase: the old workhorse staircase set is back, along with its attendant foyer and drawing room. Submitted by catyron, July 25th, 2018
This is the final of seven PM appearances for Douglas Dick (Ted Harberson), whose work as a model and stage actor in NYC led to roles in movies and on television. Douglas Dick left acting in 1971, earned a Psychology PhD., and started a psychotherapy practice. He married his second wife in 1963, and outlived her by fourteen years. Douglas Dick passed in 2015 at the age of 95...MikeM. 7/26/2018
Inflation - The $300,000 payment for the 50/50 interest in the Arcott Laboratories experimental process would be just over $2.6 million in 2021 money. OLEF641 9/11/21
All day parking at the courthouse is 75¢. Such a deal! Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.05 Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.31 Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.53 Cost of a gallon of Milk: $0.95 1965 prices Submitted 8/30/2011 Mason Jar
I find it odd that Paul, the excellent detective he is, did not chase down the guy he ran into after he heard the scream and shot especially since Perry was already ahead of him toward the scream. Perry Baby 12/17/13
+ VERY TRUE! I thought the same thing, especially since it's a night time, after hearing a scream AND a gunshot! ...and Paul even carries a gun, so why not run after the guy?!!! They could have at least made Paul fall down or something, so the guy could "legitimately" get away. ;-> Submitted by mesave31, 03/14/15.
When did the Los Angeles Chronicle become a sleazy rag? The paper seemed to lean toward sensationalism, but not dirt. The three stories we saw were supposedly written by Ted Halberson. Perry said Halberson was a "scandal sheet reporter" and Paul, when talking about the Selff situation, said "Decent papers won't touch it." (Wasn't the Chronicle a decent paper?) There were four other newspapers in the series why wasn't one of those papers used for this story? Submitted by H. Mason 9/29/14
+ Must have happened after Joes Davies took over...looks like the haters were right. Interjected by Notcom, 061016.
This is no less than the fourth episode in the last twelve, and the second in a row, in which the plot revolves around someone being thought dead, who isn't...I think the writers were running out of ideas. Pondered by Notcom, 061016.
+ To expand on my earlier comment, perhaps we shouldn't try to apportion blame for this episode as much as gain an appreciation how it perfectly illustrates ESG's story wheel at work: plot ?? spin the wheel > woman is haunted by allegedly dead husband; supporting characters ?? spin again > understanding companion, business partner. insurance investigator...dramatic developments? spin again> seance, confrontation with intruder... What we end up with, of course, is a Frankenstein episode: assembled from parts of other episodes, yet not without some individuality once the parts are brought together (is 'Rosemary' as faithful as she seems?? you don't really know). As for the umpteenth appearance of "Balfour", the stairway and the cloche hat: have at it !! Reconsidered by Notcom, 081619.
The previous episode, "The 12th Wildcat," was the first episode filmed this season (and the following episode, "The Runaway Racer" was the second). "The Wrathful Wraith" was the tenth. For some reason, the first two episodes filmed were held over for a month or two. The similarity in plot probably wasn't noticed when the episodes were scheduled. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 12/27/17.
I wonder why the writer's picked North Carolina as the location of the nudist colony. I would think somewhere in California would be more logical. Submitted by Perry Baby (in NC) 1/8/17.
Except for the feeble and silly closing scene, a very entertaining episode that really had you questioning the actions of just about everyone involved. As usual, there are a few lapses in logic: What would Jamison Selff had done if his wife had indeed been found guilty of his murder? The insurance investigator persists in believing that Louise and Jamison were in cahoots, but it should have been clear to anyone watching as closely as he that that certainly was not the case. In questioning Jeanne Welch, Burger expresses incredulity that Louise thought she was seeing the ghost of her husband, but by this point it has been established that Jamison was indeed popping in and out specifically to make that impression. McGuffin alert - the Alcott process. DOD 04/03/19
It was nice to see a fortune teller and clairvoyant treated as a fairly decent and loyal person. Perry did not believe she was anything but a fraud, yet she behaved with dignity and compassion the entire time. Submitted by catyron, July 25th, 2018
Did anyone else catch the doctor saying, after Louise was “attacked” by the raincoat, “She has had a terrible shock. It may be SELF induced. Great pun, that. Rickapolis 04/15/20
After two weeks in the hospital it seems that Louise is just as close to going over the edge, if not completely over it. Kilo 4/30/2020.