#8: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 11/09/57
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book (Revised)
A jealous woman—bitter over her roommate’s impending marriage to her former boyfriend—attempts to pin a murder on the roomie. Perry and Della are the first to find the murdered man, an act that gets them in very hot water with Tragg and the police. The stiff had a lipstick stain on his forehead, and the episode takes a slightly kinky turn when Perry and Paul discuss the possibility that the crimson kiss may have been put there by (gasp!) a man. Frances (“Aunt Bee”) Bavier plays an old friend of Perry’s.
This, the eighth Mason story to be broadcast, was the first to be adapted not from an Erle Stanley Gardner novel, but from one of his short stories.
Starring Raymond Burr
in Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of Crimson Kiss
Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, Ray Collins
Directed by Christian Nyby
Teleplay by Walter Doniger, Joel Murcott, Milton Geiger
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
Jean Willes as Anita Bonsal
Sue England as Fay Allison
Douglas Dick as Dane Grover
Gloria McGhee as Shirley Tanner
John Holland as Carver Clement
Connie Cezon as Gertie
Joi Lansing as Vera Payson
Douglas Evans as Don Ralston
Frances Bavier as Louise Marlow
John Harmon as Lab Man
Frank Wilcox as Judge Randolph
Howard Culver as Dr. Hawley
Lee Miller as:
- Courtroom Spectator
- Restaurant Patron
Don Anderson as:
- Courtroom Spectator
- Restaurant Patron
Howard Browne | Story Editor
Production Supervisor … J. Paul Popkin
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lyle Wheeler, Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Art Marks
Editorial Supervisor … Art Seid, A.C.E.
Film Editor … Richard W. Farrell
Makeup … Mel Berns
Hair Stylist … Annabell
Wardrobe Supervision … Dick James
Set Decorations … Walter M. Scott, Charles Q. Vassar
Properties … Ray Thompson
Recorded by … Alfred Bruzlin
Rerecording Mixer … Harry M. Leonard
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese
This has been a CBS Televistion Network Production
Filmed in Hollywood by TCF Television Productions, Inc.
CARS: 1957 Cadillac convertible, black w/ black & white int., white top up (Mason), 1957 Buick Caballero station wagon (interior only). From The Cars by Greg Cockerill.
+ The parade of cars in the opening scene are, in order, '53 Dodge, '55 Olds 88, '57 Ford Custom Business Sedan, '54 Cadillac Series 62 convertible, '51 Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe convertible (top up), and a '55 Buick Special. Submitted by oldgray on 3/8/14.
Anomaly: John Harmon, listed as Lab Man, appears as Mr. Harlan (the man from the lab). Submitted by daveb, 20 December 2007.
+ This is not really an anomaly. Closing credits are not designed to be an all-inclusive source of information but rather to give the average viewer the actor's name for the character. The viewer may indeed think "Who was Mr. Harlan?" but would probably more likely remember "Lab Man." Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 10/08/13.
++ Indeed, actors will sometime make up a name for themselves so they can put that on their resume instead of “Second policeman”, or some such. That may not make it to the shows credits, of course. Submitted by Rickapolis 05/13/19
+++ The Fingerprint expert also gave Lip Imprint testimony. "1883: In Mark Twain's book 'Life on the Mississippi,' a murderer was identified by the use of fingerprint identification. In a later book by Twain, 'Pudd'n Head Wilson,' there was a Dramatic Court Trial on fingerprint identification," the US Marshals website notes ("Fingerprint History"). Mike Bedard 3.31.15
++++ There was an odd case a few years ago where a male bank robber, dressed as a woman, was partially identified by the lip imprint his lipstick left on the bank door glass when he bumped into it as he fled the scene! Submitted by MikeReese, 8/14/17.
NB: the item above starting "The Fingerprint Man also gave .." appears in two places. One of those identical items should be removed. CVS, 8/17/2018
+ Corrected 5/26/2020 by HamBurger
In the restaurant scene, early in the show, we learn that Della’s private number is llywood 2-1799. Submitted by Paul Chrisney, 6/10/2004.
In his first scene, Paul Drake is wearing a dark-colored suit. This is one of the few times in the first season he has on a dark suit. In almost every other instance, the color of Paul’s suit matches the color of his hair. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 9 July 2008.
Perry in a hat: Perry wears a hat in the scene where he and Tragg are riding together after visiting the sanitarium. jfh Mayday 2018
Paul Drake does not appear in the courtroom in this episode. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 9 July 2008.
The (shooting?) script for this episode is dated 11 April 1957. The scripts of at least 3 episodes predate it. I hypothesize the episode was filmed no earlier than 4th. Submitted by billp, 4 November 2009.
+ Since Perry drives the 1957 Cadillac in this episode, that places it in the “middle” category, probably a very early middle since the script is dated fairly early. I now suppose it was filmed no earlier than 16th on the basis of script date and automobiles appearing in the episode. Submitted by billp, 29 November 2009.
++ Here we have a "Cadillac" episode shot in April while others were shot in July. The plot thickens....Submitted by HamBurger, 9/20/2020
Uncredited Actors / Sightings: Don Anderson appears here as a courtroom spectator on the defense side of the room. Submitted by FredK 30 September 2010.
+ Anderson can also be seen dining in the restaurant, as can Raymond Burr’s stand-in Lee Miller and a woman we call Distinguished Lady #2. Submitted by alan_sings, 16 Oct 2010.
++ The aforementioned Lady is also a courtroom spectator, as is Miller, along with Distinguished Gentleman #2. Read more about uncredited actors and other favorite frequent faces, and spot a few yourself! Submitted by gracenote, 8/26/2011.
+++ Distinguished Lady #4 is in court today sitting on Perry's side in the first row. Submitted by BigBill767, Nov 11, 2016.
Credits: First time that Annabell gets listed in the credits. Clothears 25th Sept 2019
And the first of seven appearances by Douglas Dick. DOD 05/26/20
Continuity Error: Shirley Tanner is wearing a black outfit in court before and when she is testifying on the stand but a lighter-colored scoop-neck dress when seen later before and after the brief recess. Reported by Kelvin Chambliss, posted by daveb, 10/20/2010.
+ Not only that, but both Della and Fay Allison mysteriously change clothes between Shirley Tanner's testimony and Lt. Tragg's testimony. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-18-14.
Interior Decoration: Except for episode #1, there has been a painting hanging on the wall in Perry's office, behind the round table, in every episode. In this episode it disappears, only to reappear in the next show. (I believe that the same painting is hanging in Perry's waiting room in episode #1). Submitted by evelyne, 10 February 2011.
That short bit of wall to the left of the window - the one with that weird mask - has yet to appear. Also, the credenza behind the desk has just a few books. Later a row of books would stretch almost the full length.
Syndication cuts: Mason and Della rushing to Fay's apartment; Della finding cups of hot chocolate; Tragg in police car saying they have the fingerprints of the girls on file which is why the fingerprint man was dismissed from the hospital [an explanation the syndicated/Hallmark viewers don't hear]; Mason greeting Della with "Morning, darling"; four scenes in a row: Burger phoning Mason, scene at Clay's Grille with Tragg, Burger and a call from Paul, headline of the trial tomorrow and scene with Paul and Perry and the court clerk announcing court in session with Judge Randolph; Vera talking to Don in court with the judge quieting them.\\
Additional Hallmark cuts: Mason telling Tragg he waited for an answering buzz to get in and Tragg saying it didn't come from Clement since he's been dead since 9 or 10; Della announcing Dane Grover [Hallmark viewers don't know why Paul had to leave through the private door]; scene with Dane and Perry [this scene immediately precedes the "four in a row" in the syndicated cuts making five in a row in the Hallmark version]; court clerk handing papers to the judge; Mason asking of Burger's objection of Fay's lip prints being entered as evidence on what grounds, doubt of authenticity or impeaching reliabilty of his own witness. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/27/12.
+ I want to thank those hard-working folks who bring us the Syndication cuts. It helps those of us watching the syndication version. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3/18/2014.
This is the only PM appearance for Frances Bavier, who was about three years away from starting her iconic role as Aunt Bee Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. Submitted by MikeM, 10/7/2012.
This is the first of seven Perry appearances for Douglas Dick who had played Kenneth Lawrence in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope". Douglas Dick died 19Dec2015 (age 95). jfh 26May2020
This is the only episode of the first season in which the word "The" in the title is not underlined. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 3/18/13.
Sadly, Joi Lansing who played Vera Payson in this one, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and died at the young age of 43 on August 7, 1972 in Santa Monica, California. Submitted by mesave31, 03/31/15.
+ Even more sadly, Gloria McGhee, who played Shirley Tanner, died of a heart attack at the even younger age of 42...only seven years after this episode. Notcom 102221.
Continuity: There are a lot of look-alike judges in the first season. Judges Randolph (this episode), Decker (The Long-Legged Models), Newark (The Crooked Candle) and Romley (The Substitute Face) were all portrayed by Frank Wilcox; Judges Osborn (The Cautious Coquette) and Donahue (The Fan Dancer's Horse) were both played by Sydney Smith. Grandon Rhodes played both Judge Kippen (The Restless Redhead) and Judge Lennox (The Moth-Eaten Mink). Judges Hoyt (The Nervous Accomplice), Cameron (The Screaming Woman) and Morrisey (in-joke in the Rolling Bones?) were all portrayed by Morris Ankrum. Kenneth MacDonald portrayed both Judge Hartley (The Terrified Typist) and Judge Colton (The Lazy Lover). There are probably other examples in this and other seasons. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 10/08/13.
+ Frank Reppy Wilcox judged 8 Perrys & 1 Wild, Wild West; his IMDb Filmography has 331 Actor credits. Mike Bedard 3.26.15
Connie Cezon is credited as Gertie but she does not appear. Perhaps when the credits were done she did have a scene (either in the script or actual filming) but the part was cut probably for time. Either they forgot to change the credits or didn't think it was important. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 10/9/13.
+ Gertie's scenes are also usually cut from the syndicated version I've been watching. That's a shame, since I find her ditzy character to be a nice contrast to the oh-so-serious demeanor of everyone else. Submitted by Duffy, 11/29/2014.
++ That's true, but I was referring to the episode on DVD. IMBd agrees and states that she is credited only. Other episodes listed as credited only are "The Moth-Eaten Mink," "The Demure Defendant" and "The Sun Bather's Diary." Perhaps she had been hired for these episodes and either her part had been cut out before filming or edited out after and for legal reasons had to be credited. Or it was just a mistake. On the other hand, she appears in "The Runaway Corpse" but is not credited, perhaps because she does not speak. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 11/30/14.
When Anita Bonsal ventures into Carver Clement's lecher's lair the make-out music which is playing (evidently on his phonograph, although we never see it) is from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Unfortunately for him, it didn't have it's intended effect. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-18-14.
It's for you, Mr. Mason: It's always a special moment when someone tracks down Perry Mason. In this episode, the hard-working attorney is enjoying a late-night nosh at Clay's Bar & Grill when a waitress, Amy, hands him over to his answering service, who puts him through to his old friend Louise Marlowe. Submitted by francis, 5/22/14.
+ In this episode, Perry says "'It's for you," as he hands the Crestview Sanitarium phone to Lt. Tragg. Mike Bedard 3.31.15
++ It's for you, Mr. Mason [part II]: for a second time at Clay's, this time at lunch, Perry is told he has a phone call; it's the pre-arranged call from Paul. jfh 05Sep2018.
+++ Both times the waitress simply carried the phone over to Perry; incredibly, as it meant dragging a long cord across the aisle (hardly a safe practice in a restaurant!) Notcom 102221.
This show featured the first announced appearance in Clay's. The establishment was mentioned once more in the first season then became a regular location in the final season Submitted by H. Mason 9/25/14
+ As they leave, Hamilton says the familiar saying "See you in court". Wonder how often this saying appears in the series? Submitted by HamBurger, 07/29/2017
++ The immediately above comments refer to the second appearance of Clay's in this epsiode, this time as a nice restaurant for lunch. jfh Mayday 2018
+++ I wonder who paid for lunch? Submitted by HamBurger, 9/19/2020
Della was put on the witness stand for the first of 7 times (also in episodes 30,63,160,162,172,187). Burger asked her five questions and Perry didn't object to any of them. Submitted by H. Mason 9/25/14
+ "She's not privileged with Mr. Mason's immunity," DA Burger says after calling her. Mike Bedard 3.31.15
HEADLINES. In this story we see the first Los Angeles Chronicle front page headline. There were several other identifiable L.A. newspapers in the series in episodes 29, 41, 139 (only mentioned in dialog) and 181. The Los Angeles Chronicle can be seen in the movies CAR WASH (1976) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Another L.A. newspaper, the Evening Star, appears in episode 156 (no headlines shown). A reporter from that paper was part of the story. Submitted by H. Mason 9/26/14.
+ The earliest Los Angeles Chronicle I've spotted is in the 1944 Preston Sturges movie The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, although the banner includes a centered eagle and shield (absent from Mason Chronicles). This 1944 L.A. Chronicle is one of several front pages quickly shown late in the movie, each proclaiming news of the "Miracle" (see one of the front pages here). Other movies in which I've spotted the L.A. Chronicle are 1954's Witness to Murder and 1958's I Want to Live! (in which the page layout & type appear to be the same as in Perry Mason: see here, 8th from bottom). Added by Gary Woloski, 9/26/14.
Actor John Holland makes his first appearance on PM as murder victim Carver Clement. Holland and George Neise combined to play the victim seven times through the course of the series. Coincidentally, Holland and Neise each appeared once in the "Classic 39" episodes of "The Honeymooners" in 1955/56. On the latter show, Holland played Alice Kramden's wolfish temporary boss, Tony Amico (who could well have been the even more wolfish Carver Clement operating under another name). Neise, who managed to flub some of his lines, played the Raccoon Lodge's stage director, Mr. Faversham. Submitted by BobH, 8 November 2016.
This is the only PM writing credit for all three teleplay authors, Walter Doniger, Joel Murcott, and Milton Geiger...MikeM. 5/1/2018
It seems to me that Fay appears to be standing on something to elevate her when she's talking with Anita in the kitchen. At other times, as when the two are walking across the living room, she appears about 2 inches shorter. Kilo 11/27/2018.
When Perry and Della exit the elevator and Perry decides to hide the key there is a loud extraneous noise that sounds like something was dropped by a crew member. Kilo 11/27/2018.
Another thing about that elevator. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that an old-style manual elevator that requires an operator? And according to the light board inside the elevator there are many more than 8 floors in the building as seen on the floor indicator above the elevator doors. Kilo 11/27/2018.
+ Update: This same elevator is used in episode 11, TCOT Crooked Candle, outside of Burger's office. Except this time there was an operator. Kilo 12/1/2018.
Not only that, but there are just six mailboxes at the entrance. A very odd building, indeed, as odd the famous Brent Building, the one with balconies from the inside bit not the outside. DOD 05/26/20
When Della and Perry arrive to the apartment and are snooping around, Della calls Perry over using the term "Chief". Does that mean she is a squaw? Just wondering. Submitted by HamBurger, 9/19/2020.
+ Della finds her first corpse. How many does she find over nine years? I expect that it is above the average for a secretary. Submitted by vgy7ujm, 01/10/2021.
Gavel Talley The judge is heard, but not seen, banging his gavel at the very end as he adjourns the trial. OLEF641 11/9/21
Scene Transition Illustration After the car-ride with Trag and Mason, the IMDB version briefly posts an illustration with PM in silhouette with an aura, a drawing of Lady Justice in the foreground, and the judge and jury drawn in the background. Anyone else see this? Was this done with other episodes? Rick P 12/7/21
Anita Bonsal and Fay Allison each make $75 a week at the missile plant. Seventy-five dollars a week would be $552.42 in 2007 dollars. That’s $28,725.84/year. No surprise they have to share an apartment in LA. Submitted by billp, 12/27/2008.
+ On the other hand, expenses like housing have far outpaced inflation. We should probably look at the total cost of living (rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, clothing) in LA during that time. Submitted by gracep, 11/22/2010.
++ The ID card in Fay's purse had "Guided Missile Identification" at the top. Mike Bedard 3.31.15
+++ Yet they're sharing that apartment in what seems to be a luxury building (the attendant's desk in the lobby - with mail slots - suggests it's actually an apartment hotel). Notcom 102221.
A very faithful adaptation of the only Perry Mason short story - even many of the names are the same. In that first outfit of hers, Faye really seems to be pointing to a bright future. DOD 05/26/20
The $500 bonus that Shirley Tanner paid to get the apartment would be $3,682.81 in 2007 dollars. Holy cow! I agree with Bill Storrer that was unfair to withhold from the audience. I wonder what the original script looks like. Could there be a deleted scene here? One which gave some hint? Submitted by billp, 12/27/2008.
Shirley Tanner’s last line is “When I found out what Anita Bonsal had done, I thought I was safe.” Submitted by billp, 1/1/2009.
Perry pronounces Anita's last name "Bonsell while everyone pronounces it as "Bonsal". jfh 05Sep2018.
My local TV station made a revealing mistake. When the airing was to begin, a card appeared on screen instead, reading: “Viacom Enterprises || PERRY MASON || The Case of the Crimson Kiss || Episode 8 || 4/3/87.” It is this date that intrigues me. This is an old syndication package from the late 1980s? Pondered by gracenote, 8/23/2011.
We learn from Burger that the Mandrake Arms has 48 apartments, but there are only 12 call boxes at the front door, and 36 mail slots at the desk.
As in "TCOT Silent Six", solving the mystery depends on apartments coming completely and identically furnished. DOD 05/26/20
+ With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I suggest that 12 of the tenants don't want to receive any mail and that the other 36 don't want visitors (12+36=48). ;-) OLEF641 11/9/21
Perry gets his first kiss of the series. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think, of the five main characters, Perry is the only one who ever gets kissed. Kilo 2/22/2021.
Deadly Drinks: I think this episode provides our first instance -- with many more to follow -- of a friend, relative, or caregiver slipping poison into what should be a calming beverage at bedtime. And then there's the allegedly nutritious "warm broth" in TCOT Murderous Mermaid. I'll have to look at the plot wheels to see if these potions were a regular gambit in the novels. JohnK, 9 June 2021
I think I may have noticed this before, but to me, Jean Willes looks a lot like Barbara Eden, but more worldly-wise and jaded. Watching this episode back-to-back with the previous one, I think, brought this to the front of my mind. OLEF641 11/9/21
Plot Hole: Why would Shirley Tanner call attention to herself by confronting people knocking on Carver Clement's door? It makes no sense, other than as a plot device to show her to the audience prior to the trial, and to entangle Perry and Della in the proceedings. Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-18-2014.
+ Also, if she has insomnia as she claims, why would she care how much noise is being made in the hallway? jfh 08Jun2020
++ I would think a person who had trouble sleeping would be even more bothered by it. Notcom, 100820.
The major weak point in what is one of the most entertaining shows in the whole series. DOD 05/26/20
For the (so far) second time in the series:
Submitted by 65tosspowertrap, 3-18-14.
Even better - two women scorned! DOD 05/26/20
Double Feature altho there are many episodes in the series that feature multiple murders, I believe this is the only one that has murder (attempts) by different characters; of course only one of the attempts is successful, and two episodes back we seemingly had a similar situation, but one of the attempts turns out to have been faked. Notcom, 100820.