#270: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 05/15/66
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Gossip columnist Danny Shine has a reputation for ruining reputations. Consequently, Danny's enemies greatly outnumber his friends. So it could have been one of many that rubbed him out.
Cloris Leachman plays Gloria, and you'll see Gary Collins and The Munster's Pat Priest.
February 1, 2021 - MeTV showed this episode at 11:30 tonight, out of order, as a tribute to Ms. Leachman, who had just passed away (on January 27th) at the age of 95. OLEF641
[Edited to entirely remove second paragraph and rewrite the Leachman-Collins sentence. Previous content misidentified defendant and contained MAJOR spoilers to the ending. Just watched this episode for the first time and wished very much I had not read the previous version of the summary.]
ed. belatedly... spoilers are allowed and welcomed! But this banner must be displayed (see discussion about Spoilers at the About This Wiki page.
Alex Tanner has an ironclad alibi to excuse himself as a suspect; his baby has been kidnapped. The only problem is that there really is no baby except in the mind of his half-crazed wife, and Alex is hiding a very big and very ugly secret.
An interesting example of misdirection and unreliable narrative on TV.
Directed by Jerry Hopper
Written 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
Music | Richard Shores
Gary Collins as Alex Tanner
Cloris Leachman as Gloria Shine
Douglas Henderson as Greg Stanley
Anne Whitfield as Patricia Tanner
Mary Foskett as Lola Stanley
John Lasell as Danny Shine
Pat Priest as Norma Fenn
John Holland as Bruno Grant
William Bramley as Leon Vandenberg
Walter Burke as Man
Willis Bouchey as Judge
Patricia Joyce as Receptionist
Lee Miller as Sgt. Brice
Director of Photography … John M. Nickolaus, Jr.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Robert G. Stone
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrell
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
Automobile by … Ford Motor Company
Produced by the CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Anomaly: Walter Burke, listed as “Man,” is called Mr. Adams. Contributed by Tom Rankin, posted by daveb, 12/21/2007.
+ This is the fifth, and obviously last, Perry appearance for Walter Burke. jfh 13May2020.
++ Burke, along with H.M. Wynant, has the distinction of having played suspects and prosecutors in various episodes. DOD 05/13/20
+++ If Walter Burke had been 6’3” he would have been a major star. A wonderful actor. (I may have made a similar comment on another PM episode page. If so, well, I mean it twice.) Submitted by Rickapolis 06/28/23
Goof: As Lola Stanley gets in her car in the Globe News parking lot, a sticker with the CBS Eye logo is clearly visible on her windshield. (However, when she parks in front of a print shop, it is gone; perhaps someone caught the mistake.) Submitted by gracenote, 6/16/2011.
+ Something is still in the corner of the windshield. Perhaps the darker lighting makes it more difficult to see, or perhaps someone did obscure the logo. But why does Lola need to go to the printing-duplicating company to get copies of the documents? The people there are using just a small desktop copier to make the copies. By 1963, Xerox (per its history) for example was selling desktop copiers, so why wouldn't an international organization like Globe News have one accessible to a secretary like Lola in its Los Angeles office? Submitted by (lowercase, with a comma and period) masonite, 10/30/13.
The Copy Shop set again: The copy shop (interior set) is a redress of the San Carlos Camera Shop from TCOT Positive Negative (or vice versa) down to the mailbox on the right and a boxing poster on the wall next to the shop. They were saving time and money. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/13/17
+ Good observation, PB. JohnK, 27 February 2018
+ + Dang, they didn't even wait a week! I transcribed what i could decipher of the words on the boxing poster on last week's episode. Submitted by catyron, August 18th, 2018
The House and Staircase Set: Also, and this is no surprise, the rich house seems to have not changed at all from TCOT Positive Negative. With the series coming to an end they must have been in a rush. JohnK, 27 February 2018
+ Other than Perry's office, that house set, with its distinctive staircase, is the most used set in the series, appearing in dozens of episodes over the years. DOD 4/12/18
The Menorah Mailbox is still affixed to the outside wall of the house. See details about this unexpected piece of Jewish decor in TCOT Positive Negative and TCOT Fanciful Frail. Submitted by catyron, August 18th, 2018
Sightings: The ever-present Pencil Mustache Man listens with rapt attention to the opening statement of the D.A. during the trial. Submitted by gracenote, 6/16/2011.
+ The young brunette also seems to be in gallery sitting near the Pencil Mustache man. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/5/14
Perry once again gets a coveted on-street parking space right in front of the courthouse...BUT this one is different than the one I am used to seeing as it has no traffic jam in front (pretty much clear streets are shown, a novelty I'd imagine <LOL!>!) AND Perry goes up the court house steps walking "away" from the camera. Submitted by mesave31, 03/18/15.
+ And, once again, he loses his pocket square en route to the courtroom. DOD 05/13/20
This is the last of 23 PM appearances for "Judge" Willis Bouchey, who was one of movie director John Ford's stock players. In a 1962 John Ford classic western, Willis Bouchey delivered the final line... "Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance."...MikeM. 4/18/2018
West Bend Thermo-Serv: the West Bend Thermo-Serv carafe and one cup can be seen in Perry's office. Submitted by catyron, August 18th, 2018
Della comes thru in the clutch and with it !! Yes, she had her dinner ruined by a drunken boor, and then had to help render first aid, but when the time came to fetch some ice, she still had the presence of mind to take her purse with her to the kitchen...That's our girl !! Notcom, 051819.
Steve Drumm's Mysterious Filing System: Apparently, in Steve's alternate universe alphabet, file cabinet drawer S-T comes right after U-V and immediately before W-X. See last scene. With that kind of record keeping, no wonder he keeps arresting the wrong guy. OldDave, filed 5/21/20
The same cabinets appear in Shine’s office, and in seemingly random order. DOD 05/27/21
Location: The Globe Syndicate exterior shot is the old First Federal Savings & Loan Building at Hollywood and Highland. This handsome midcentury building didn't make it to 30 years old. It was built in 1959 and demolished in 1998. The Hollywood and Highland Center was later built on this site. From 1902 to 1956 it was the site of the legendary Hollywood Hotel. OldDave, filed 5/21/20
A Bad Week: Pat Priest (aka Marilyn Munster) had a week in which the last episode of The Munsters aired on Thursday (12 May 1966) and her last appearance on Perry Mason aired the following Sunday (15 May 1966) in the show's penultimate episode. Her acting jobs were mostly TV guest spots after that, and by 1976, her show business career was limited to the nostalgia circuit. And Marilyn never did get a boyfriend. Submitted by Vladimir Estragon, 1 September 2020.
+ Just reading the Wikipedia article about Pat Priest and discovered that Pat's mother "Ivy Baker Priest (September 7, 1905 – June 23, 1975) was an American politician who served as Treasurer of the United States from 1953 to 1961 and California State Treasurer from 1967 to 1975." jfh 27May2021
Given all the Perry Mason episodes, I cannot remember the guilty party in every episode but this is one I always remember. This also seems to be a reunion episode of prior Perry Mason actors: Douglas Henderson (six appearances), Gary Collins (two appearances), Anne Whitfield (three appearances), Pat Priest (two appearances), John Lasell (two appearances), Walter Burke (five appearances), Patricia Joyce (5 appearances), and John Holland (4 appearances). John Lasell was also the murder victim in the Case of the Promoter's Pill Box. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/5/14
Attorney Bruno Grant warns Perry not to "besmirk" the reputation of his client, Leon Vandenberg. Whether his mangling of the English language affects his own reputation is anyone's guess. Submitted by BobH, 24 December 2015.
Cloris Leachman with a modern hair style was 40 years old when this episode was filmed as Danny Shine's wife. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/5/14
When the Tanners meet Walter Burke outside their home, there is a low brick wall they step over. That wall doesn’t appear in any other scenes outside the house. DOD 05/27/21
Gossip-Columnist Danny Shine mentions THE FOURTH ESTATE: "1 a group other than the usual powers, as the Three Estates of France [Clergy, Nobility, Commoners] that wields influence. 2 the journalistic profession or its members, the press [Webster's Unabr. Dict.]." Mike Bedard 3.18.15
I think the black mail mechanism (to not testify in the trial) was a weak premise. The prosecution would have wanted to call the Tanners as witnesses since they were present at the crime as well. Of course they could refuse with a contempt of court. Submitted by Perry Baby 2/13/17..about 2 yrs since I had watch all the episodes.
+ Alex wanted to drive his wealthy newspaper-owner wife round the twist, kill the guy who knew the secret, and implicate his rival for the murder. jfh 16Dec2022.
When Paul is outside Jules' office, the woman inside asks "what does he look like?" The man replies" A good looking guy in a trench coat." She replies: "That sounds like the man that was following me!" I found that to be a bit funny, as "good looking guy in a trench coat" would describe hundreds of men in LA. --yelocab 30SEP19
The central plot element - that after a nearly a year someone just happened to come by the house and discover the couple's secret, and it just happened to be a 'tell-all' columnist - strikes me as weak as well...or, as we'e said often enough, implausible: the Tanner's seem to have no maid, so did she never answer the door ? did they never invite anyone over ??
As is many times the case with twist endings, in order for there to be a surprise, the dramatic action that precedes it has to be made illogical (even it if that only becomes apparent in review) Fault Finding Again, Notcom, 091319.
+Apparently the Tanners have only been in town a week from 'the East' where there isn't the same servant problem they are having in LA. In that weeks' span they have buried the news owner/Pat's dad. Bizyfe0415
+ True, but I still find it just barely plausible a fairly prominent family could have carried off the deception so long. And just how did Tanner think this “kidnapping” would play out? The truth had to out eventually. DOD 05/13/20
++ During the trial it is stated that the murder was a month prior. So the baby has allegedly been missing for a whole month? How could the pretense have gone on for so long? Rick P 1/20/22
This episode has one of the more downbeat endings in series history. A little child, thought to be alive by almost everyone, is dead; his mother is completely delusional; and his father is a murderer who, rather than having sought psychiatric help for his wife, has helped foster her delusions--primarily out of self-interest. Della's effort to reassure us, in the epilogue, that Pat Tanner will finally get the help she needs is not particularly reassuring. Submitted by BobH, 18 September 2019.
It's interesting how this episode plays off of known TV tropes. It didn't bother me that they never showed the baby because we know that using a real child causes many problems for a production. I also attributed the wife's frequent hysterics to either overacting or the tendency in that era to portray women as overemotional. However, it seemed odd that nobody mentioned how the child was spirited out of the house and later back in without anyone noticing. I also assumed that a 60s TV show would never be so dark as to have a kidnapping story end with a baby murdered by the kidnappers. Therefore, with these things in mind, I was quite surprised at the ending. Submitted by Vladimir Estragon, 1 September 2020.
Yet another episode in which the lack of any gun shot residue (GSR) on the accused killer's hand or clothes should have cleared him immediately, but is simply not mentioned in this case (even by Perry!) for the sake of the story. AND the absurdity that the DA hasn't even considered the victim's wife as a suspect despite her presence on the scene, lack of alibi, and strong motive of jealousy. ckb 28 Oct 2020
Burke was obviously a private investigator. Funny how the 2 private investigators run into each other on a dark street and Paul asks his cohort for a "light". Submitted by HamBurger, 9/5/2020
Similar Plot Device from Famous Contemporary Play The ultimate realization that an oft-discussed but never seen child is imaginary is part of the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." While the play debuted in 1962, the film debuted in 1966, the same year as this PM episode, though the TV show was broadcast a month before. Probably just a coincidence therefore. Anyone know? Rick P 1/17/22
There are several episodes that echo other other works or events. “Silent Six” is surely a take on the infamous, and infamously misunderstood Kitty Genovese murder; “Wandering Widow” uses a plot device similar to Agatha Christie’s “Ordeal by Innocence” published two years before its air date, and “Lonely Heiress” reminds me of Ira Levin’s “Kiss Before Dying”. Any other suggestions? DOD 06/28/23