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#269: The Case of the
Positive Negative
Original Airdate: 05/01/66

Summary Edit

From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Retired general Roger Brandon is all set to head an anticrime commission when a man named George Emory claims to have compromising photos of Brandon's wife Laura. Unless Brandon refuses the position, Emory will launch a smear campaign against the woman.

General Brandon has never backed down from a fight before, and he doesn't intend to this time. Deciding to fight the problem head on and trusting his wife implicitly, Brandon calls Emory's bluff. The good news is that someone kills Emory. The bad news is that the killer did a neat job of framing the general for the murder.

Credits Edit

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Starring Raymond Burr
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman


Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Teleplay by Robert E. Kent
Story by Robert E. Kent and Robert Yale Libott

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

Music | Richard Shores


Brian Donlevy as General Roger Brandon
Bettye Ackerman as Laura Brandon
Parley Baer as Frank Cummings
Dabbs Greer as Bill Cotton
Simon Scott as Stanley Overton
Anthony Hayes as Warren Cotton
Ted de Corsia as George Emory
John Gallaudet as Judge
Jim Drum as Photographer
Tom Allen as Police Officer


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
Automobiles supplied by … Ford Motor Company

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

Trivia Edit

Sightings: Turning up in the courtroom gallery to watch Perry pull a rabbit out of this hat are Quiet Old Man #1 and our “Miss Carmody.” More about them here. Submitted by gracenote, 6/15/2011.

Continuity Error: Note the lighting when the lamp is turned on in the first scene. The lighting in the blackmail photo (supposed taken at that moment) is completely different. Submitted by cgraul, 1/25/2012.

Weren't the blackmail photos taken before Warren turned on the lamp? ("The infrared bulb must have been out of sync with the shutter" for 1 of the 3 photos.) That's when his and Laura's embrace matches the photo that we see. Still, a remarkably good photo considering the circumstances. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 10/29/13.

Although the titles of the episodes are usually centered, in this episode "Positive" is aligned to the left while "Negative" is aligned to the right. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 6/27/12.
+ Sharp eyes! Submitted by catyron, August 17th, 2018

The widely seen character actor Dabbs Greer made his last of 8 appearances on Perry Mason as Bill Cotton. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/4/14
+ Simon Scott, born Daniel Scott Simon, made the last of his 5 Perry appearances in this episode. Mike Bedard 3.14.15.
This is the only PM writing credit for Robert Yale Libott, who was a graduate of Stanford and of UCLA Law. Libott balanced a legal career in patents and entertainment law with a writing career in radio, television and films...MikeM. 4/17/2018

Emory's Menorah Mailbox: Mr. Emory lives in the same fancy house with the diamond-panelled door we have seen before, and it opens, as usual, to "the" staircase and foyer, as always. But this time is different from all other times -- because on the outer wall of the house is an attached mailbox, with the word EMORY painted on it in white paint -- and it is the same "Jewish Mailbox" previously seen in Episode 265 (TCOT Fanciful Frail). You remember the mailbox -- it's the one with the rampant lions of Judea flanking a Jewish synagogue menorah (candelabrum) surmounted by a royal crown. This menorah-within-a-menorah design is a common feature of Jewish Hanukkah (Chanukah) menorahs. See here and here and here and here. Either Mr. Emory is Jewish or some set decorator is having a lot of fun with this prop. Submitted by catyron, August 18th, 2018

Friday Night Boxing:On the brick wall outside the San Carlos Camera Shop, with its bouncy modern lettering, is an old-fashioned boxing poster. Here is what i can make out -- with word in {brackets} open to question:
{Frank} SLAUSON vs {Johnny} RANSOM
{Les} SHARP vs {Killer} HAND
{?} vs {?}
{?} vs. Buddy FIVE
Zahler WHITE vs. Killer HAND
Submitted by catyron, August 17th, 2018

TCOT West Bend Thermo-Serv: The West Bend Thermo-serv carafe and one cup can be seen on a side table at the Brandons' house when Perry talks to Laura Brandon. Submitted by catyron, August 17th, 2018

Comments Edit

Considering General Brandon was a favorite of the governor, it would have been nice to see Burger and Drumm read the riot act from Sacramento for trying to railroad a war hero for a murder he didn't commit. Burger even suggested that Brandon had a history of violence because he had "fought the enemies of our country." A pretty low blow from a civilian. Just once it would be nice to see their shoddy investigative tactics called out publicly. There are never any consequences for repeated prosecutions of innocent people. Not to mention destruction of reputations. Closest we got was in the previous episode where the judge scolded both Drumm and and the prosecutor (not Burger) for trying to convict an innocent man even though they admitted they had reasonable doubt and evidence they could not explain. Submitted by DM

General Who? Sorry, but Brian Donlevy as a general is an awful piece of miscasting. He's far too tentative and wishy washy to have command anybody or anything. And the ridiculous toupee on his head doesn't inspire confidence either. Couldn't they find someone with a bit more authority to play the general? Or save Donlevy for an episode about a small town barber? He was just not believable in this episode. Half the time he sounded like he didn't know what his next line was. Submitted by DellaMason

Poor Communication The general repeatedly says he trusts his wife implicitly and they have a great marriage. But how good could it have been if his wife didn't think to share with him that a man burst into her bedroom unannounced with phony stories about attempted suicide? Do these people have such interesting lives that it didn't come up in conversation?? IMO, her husband should have been the first call she made! Then maybe he wouldn't have been taken off guard. Great marriage, my foot. Submitted by DellaMason

Out of all the possible fictitious place names, why did story writers Kent and Libott choose the name of real California city San Carlos as the corrupt town? It is in the San Francisco peninsula, about 360 miles north of Los Angeles, and had a population of 20,000-25,000 in the 1960s per the US census bureau. But per Kent and Libott San Carlos seems as savory as Bay City. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 10/29/13.

We get another look at Della's unique filing system - a separate drawer for each letter I through P. DOD 04/30/19

Drumm can’t make up his mind to pronounce Los Angeles with a hard or soft “G”. Perry has acquired a few decorative accessories- a pair of bird sculptures on the end table by the sofa. DOD 05/26/21

Was Brian Donlevy ailing during the filming of the episode? His voice sounds like he had a serious throat condition, making speech difficult. He still has 6 years more to live, and about 9 more roles to play. Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 10/29/13.
+ When I first saw his initial scene (and moments before reading here), to me he sounded like he was having painful teeth issues. Several scenes later though, he does not seem to be having the same speech issue. Also, I thought this was his worst deadpan/no emotion acting job in all of his Perry appearances. Just my humble .02¢ opinion of course. Submitted by mesave31, 03/18/15.
[nitpicking note: to the best of my ability to research, this is Brian Donlevy's only Perry appearance. jfh 29Apr2019]
++ Of course you mean 2¢ [or $.02]. .02¢ is two hundredths (or two percent) of ONE cent. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 3/28/18.
+++ Brian Donlevy did die from throat cancer in 1972 so this may be a reason. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/4/14

TCOT Satisfying Story Aaaah. We are back to adults with adult problems (greed, scandal, blackmail)! I find this one of the better late season episodes, more in line with classic PM. No ersatz Playboy Bunnies, no rebellious teens played by 20-somethings, no sappy pop music, no cringeworthy attempts to use current slang. In the early seasons, of course, we had similar attempts to capture the beatnik scene, but those made me laugh, at least. Give me greedy old men fighting over money any day! Them I can believe in! Submitted by JazzBaby, 6/29/2019.

When Perry and Drumm are at the murder scene Drumm gives the notepad to Perry. He points to it with the murder weapon, finger on trigger, two inches from Perry’s chest! Kilo 11/3/2021.

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

"Baerly Present." This is the last of Parley Baer's six appearances on the show. In each and every one of Parley Baer's appearances, he played neither defendant nor victim nor murderer, but rather "innocent" suspect. Submitted by BobH, 2 October 2017.

TCOT Dubious Dabbs I love how Dabbs Greer, who has been the murderer at least once, played his character with sufficient shiftiness of expression and body language to make viewers question his supposed loyalty to the General and suspect he could be the guilty party. Of course, having him at the murder scene with the gun in his hand set him up as a suspect, too! (Speaking of which, why weren't his fingerprints found on the gun?) Submitted by JazzBaby, 6/29/2019.
+ He was not holding the murder gun, but rather the gun that he took from his drawer and brought with him. Unlike the murder gun, it was a revolver. TerryS, 10/17/2019

Interesting that neither Perry nor Bill Cotton called the fire department or the police to report on the break-in, assault and arson at Cotton's place. TerryS, 10/17/2019.

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