#80: The Case of the
Original Airdate: 01/02/60
From The Perry Mason TV Show Book
Perry is planning on a relaxing weekend in the Sierra town of Fawnskin, hunting with his old friend Sheriff Gene Norris, but he gets sidetracked into another murder case.
The town is out for blood when Phil Beecher returns from jail. Phil did time for drunken driving and neglience in the car accident that killed Aggie, the sheriff’s daughter. Aggie’s sister Charlotte wants revenge, and frames Phil for robbery. When the scheme backfires, Charlotte herself is killed, and things look pretty grim for Phil. A lynching is a definite possibility before Perry steps in.
Starring Raymond Burr
in The Case of THE VIOLENT VILLAGE
Based upon characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Barbara Hale as Della Street
William Hopper as Paul Drake
William Talman as Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins as Lt. Tragg
Directed by William D. Russell
Teleplay by Sam Elkin and Seeleg Lester
Story by Sam Elkin
Herbert Hirschman | Producer
Gail Patrick Jackson | Executive Producer
Seeleg Lester | Associate Producer, Story Consultant
Produced by The CBS Television Network in association with Paisano Productions
Arthur Marks | Associate Producer
Barton MacLane as Sheriff Eugene Norris
Ann Rutherford as Judith Thurston
Jacqueline Scott as Kathi Beecher
Ray Hemphill as Phil Beecher
Bart Burns as Norman Thurston
Richard Hale as Robert Tepper
John Dennis as Ward Lewis
Terry Becker as Everett Ransome
Willis B. Bouchey as Judge
Ina Victor as Charlotte Norris
Jason Johnson as Clerk
Frank Hagney as 2nd Man
Robert R. Stephenson as 1st Man
Cecil Weston as Court Reporter
Art Seid, A.C.E. | Assistant to the Producer
Production Supervisor … Dewey Starkey
Director of Photography … Frank Redman, A.S.C.
Art Direction … Lewis Creber
Assistant Director … Morris Harmell
Film Editor … John D. Faure
Casting … Harvey Clermont
Makeup … Irving Pringle
Hair Stylist … Annabell, S.C.H.
Wardrobe Supervision … William Zacha, Evelyn Carruth
Set Decoration … Charles Q. Vassar
Sound Effects Editor … Gene Eliot, M.P.S.E.
Music Editor … Gene Feldman
Properties … Ray Thompson
Production Sound Mixer … Herman Lewis
Script Supervision … M.E.M. Gibsone
Sound … Glen Glenn Sound Co.
Perry Mason \ A Film Presentation
A CBS Television Network Production
Location: Fawnskin is in the San Bernardino National Forest, not in the Sierras. It is located on Highway 38 on the North shore of Big Bear Lake. Submitted by D. A. Supernaw, 10/20/2006. Show pictures and more here.
+ Actually, Fawnskin is in the San Bernardino Mountains, a more accurate equvalent to the Sierras than San Bernardino NF. Nitpicky, I know. OLEF641; 10/15/2017.
Goof: Judith Thurston buys tissues and nosedrops in Robert Tepper’s general store. She picks up the bag and breezily tells Mr. Tepper to charge it to her account even though there is a sign over the cash register in plain sight that says “NO CREDIT - NO CHECKS.” Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9/24/2008.
+ Actually it reads “NO CHECKS CASHED,” which suggests that checks would be accepted for the amount of purchase, and says nothing about credit. Submitted by gracep, 9/20/2010.
++ Actually, if you look at the photo posted above, you can see the sign behind Perry and Mr. Tepper. It clearly says "NO CREDIT" and just below that is "NO CHECKS CASHED". You can see this scene on the DVD at the 37:31 mark. Submitted by PaulDrake33, 27 November 2011.
Paul Drake, Hamilton Burger, and Arthur Tragg do not appear in this episode. Della appears very briefly talking on the telephone to Perry. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9/24/2008.
Goof: Early in the show inside the sawmill office there is a calendar on the wall that displays the months of July and August. Later in the show it is noted that the murder took place on Friday, November 13. That date actually was a Friday in 1959. Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9/24/2008.
+ The July/August calendar also has the dates for 1959 (July 1 on a Wednesday). Why they didn't use the November/December section is a mystery. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/14/13.
Robert Tepper sells Ritz and Hi Ho crackers in his general store. You can see them behind Perry when Perry first walks into the store. But for some reason all the boxes are displayed upside down. Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid product identification? Submitted by PaulDrake 33, 9/24/2008.
Other products: (1) Kodak film sign outside the store and a display just inside the door. (2) Two Canada Dry signs outside the store. (3) Schlitz sign in the window. Added by H. Mason 10/27/14
In the opening scene during which Phil confronts Kathi, behind her is a reproduction of that iconic Grant Wood painting, American Gothic. Submitted by gracep, 9/20/2010.
Character Names: Kathi Beecher introduces herself to Perry Mason as “Katherine.” Submitted by gracep, 9/20/2010.
For an option to buy land, Mason pays Tepper with a thousand-dollar bill. The Federal Reserve officially discontinued bills larger than $100 as of 14 July 1969; electronic transactions have made them obsolete, and they are too lucrative for counterfeiters. Although still legal tender, if you get your hands on a thousand-dollar bill, you could probably sell it to a collector for far greater than its face value. (Bonus trivia: Which President graces this banknote? Grover Cleveland!) Submitted by gracep, 9/20/2010.
+ $500 bills appear frequently in PM episodes (and sometimes $1,000 bills), worth approx. $4,000 in 2016 dollars. Who carries around that much cash? Of course they usually exist in PM as part of a clue or plot twist. --yelocab 27DEC18
Sightings: Distinguished Lady #4 turns up in the Fawnskin courtroom gallery. Submitted by gracenote, 10/22/2011.
Although credited, William Hopper (as Paul Drake) does not appear. Submitted by gracenote, 11/26/2011.
+ "Violent Village," "Prudent Prosecutor" & "A Place Called Midnight" were WH's "Credit ONLY" NON-appearances (134 IMDb Actor credits: 1916-70). Mike Bedard 7.18.16
++ Barbara Hale had 11 IMDb Credit ONLY NON-appearances. Mike Bedard 7.21.16 MeTV viewing.
- Since Della isn't on the fishing trip with Perry, Kathi performs a Della-like function by cashing the $1,000 check for Perry. jfh 08Aug2018.
+ Along with William Talman and Ray Collins. Their contracts specified (as most series contracts did and do now) they would be credited whether they appeared or not (unlike Talman's after his return in the 4th season). Although William Hopper's absense is notable, the fact that he is credited is not. This point is especially relevant later in the series when Ray Collins is absent. Submitted by Wiseguy70005, 7/14/13.
- (2) 1959 Ford Custom 300 4-Door Sedan, Sierra County Sheriff B&W, see Supernaw's Location Trivia re county.
Background Cars. Perry walks (!) to the Lumber Yard! As he arrives he passes by:
- (a) a white 1951 Ford F-5 COE Stake (COE = Cab Over Engine, Stake = flatbed w/optional side-panels). Could be F-6, differences F-5/F-6 being in springs, axles and tires (load capacity).
- (b) a white 1945 Dodge Power Wagon (1945 or later), read about it here.
The nose-badge and paint job of the bus which takes Phil Beecher to Fawnskin might help someone ID the make, model and stageline. Bus Lic No G51 13x, x=0 or 6. Added by Gary Woloski, 7/18/12.
Bus in opening scene: The bus in question is an Aerocoach P-372, built in 1949-1952, a product of the General American Transportation Corporation, based in East Chicago, Indiana. It undoubtedly had a Clark five-speed unsynchronized transmission and probably had an International six-cylinder Red Diamond gasoline engine. [A few of that model had Continental gasoline engines.] It had manual steering and conventional steel-spring suspension. Although the destination sign says "special", the context suggests that the coach was on a regularly scheduled trip on a fixed route. This episode's example has the standard exterior side-panelling (flat & paintable) while the P-372 shown here has the optional Silverside fluted panelling.
The Aerocoach design was a product of William Stout, a well known aeronautical engineer, who had previously created the concepts (among others) which became developed into the Ford Tri-motor aircraft and the PCC streetcar (the most popular US trolley car of all time).
The structure of the Aerocoach consisted of an aluminum skin attached to an aluminum tubular framework, using a technique borrowed from the aircraft-building industry. That accounts for the name Aerocoach.
The production of the Aerocoach ended in 1952 because of falling sales due to the increasing popularity of the competing products from GM, which featured not only diesel engines (introduced in 1939) but also power steering and air suspension (both announced in 1952 and introduced in -53).
The livery (outside color scheme), in red and cream, is one of the standard designs for use by the member companies in the National Trailways trade association. However, no logo, trade name, or legal lettering is discernible. See restoration of a similar Aerocoach P-373 to Pacific Trailways livery here.
Submitted by DocRushing on 24 July 2012.
Store hours: The first time Perry was in the store Mr. Tepper said he closed at 8:00 every night except Saturday. While exiting the store after the land deal there was a sign beside the door that said the store closed at 6:00 daily. Submitted by H. Mason 10/27/14
Recycled newspapers: Beside the door inside Tepper's General Store were old copies of the L.A. Chronicle. On the top row the paper on the left came from episode 33 TCOT Long-Legged Models. Beside it was a paper from #15 TCOT Fan Dancer's Horse. The third paper came from episode 76 TCOT Golden Fraud. Submitted by H. Mason 10/27/14
This is the only PM appearance for Ina Victor, who has 28 acting credits from 1960-1968 according to IMDb...MikeM. 10/27/2016
+ In 2020 she became the last surviving cast member. While this isn't really surprising - she was the second youngest - it's perhaps somewhat ironic, as being the murder victim, she was the first (and only) one who died. Notcom, 020122.
This is the only PM writing credit for Sam Elkin...MikeM. 7/27/2017
In the opening scene, where the bus is seen driving into Fawnskin, the place where Beecher is dropped off appears much the same now as it did then. It is still even a bus stop. The town sign and the directional sign (<- Holcomb Valley / North Shore Resorts / Victorville 48 ->) have both been replaced, as has the bridge the bus was seen driving over. The Café seen across the street seems to have been replaced, with a similarly sized building, but many of the trees are recognizable, although bigger, of course. Per Google Maps Street View. OLEF641 2/28/22
According to a story in the 11/11/59 edition of Big Bear Life, the scenes were filmed in Fawnskin on Nov 3. Notcom 052822
Terry Becker is another with an “unfortunate face” as described by OLEF641‘s grandmother in comments for the previous episode. Kilo 10/27/2022.
Although uncredited, this episode is based, in part, on the 1953 Perry Mason short story "The Case of the Irate Witness". Submitted by Bill-W2XOY on 07/30/2013.
Disappointing Draft: This episode was written by some of our usual writers, and dates back to what many of us think of as the superior early years of Perry Mason, but in my view the story is remarkably weak. And as others mention below, poorly acted. We don't even get much Della. Oh well, they can't all be TCOT Singing Skirt. I gave up on this one early and played the guitar instead. JohnK, 17 September 2021.
+ This episode has an IMDB rating of 8.5. TCOT Singing Skirt is rated 8.2. I like them both. Kilo 10/27/2022.
Perry, who we've seen fishing in a few episodes, went to "The Angler's Capitol [sic] Of The Sierras" to hunt. Submitted by H. Mason 10/27/14
Good thing Perry packed a suit and tie for a weekend fishing trip. Submitted by Otto Gervaert, 9/17/21.
A Burger without the Ham, Please! Terry Becker's ludicrously over-the-top performance as Prosecutor Everett Ransome makes him eligible for the third season's Robert H. Harris Award for Hammiest Guest Actor. On a positive note, we should be grateful to Becker for making us appreciate how good William Talman was as Hamilton Burger. Submitted by BobH, 15 October 2016.
+ Terry Becker should just keep his other job as Chief Sharkey in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. ;-) Submitted by none other than HamBurger 7/4/2018
I kept trying to figure out who he resembled, then it hit me - he looks just like one of those marionettes from "Thunderbirds Are Go!". DOD 08/07/18 + Yes, if he'd had a pair of big lensed glasses, he'd have looked like 'Brains'! MikeReese, 1/13/2021.
In his questioning of Mrs Thurston, I was shocked to hear Perry use the grammatically incorrect "comprised of". Anne Rutherford is, of course, remembered best as Scarlett O'Hara's sister Carreen in "Gone With the Wind". She also appeared in several of the Andy Hardy movies. Oddly, the gun is never introduced as evidence, nor, apparently, was a residue test done on Phil Beecher's hands. DOD 08/07/18
This episode is remarkable, I think, in that attitude of the villagers seems to run 180° to the claim made in recent years that Vehicular Homicide, specifically DUI Vehicular Homicide, is - or was - "socially acceptable" (if anything, they seem eager to overassign blame, though the incident is never gone into in much detail). Then again one could argue that the village is supposed to be an anomaly, or that sentiments are different when the victim is well known. Notcom, 111617.
When Tepper went out back and brushed the snow off the logs, the snow really behaved with the consistency of sand. --yelocab 27DEC18
+ Yes. Though all the snow in the location scenes shot outdoors is real, the scene with the logs and the safe was done in a sound stage, necessitating a "stand-in" for snow. OLEF641 1/16/21