A very nervous man named Cartwright comes into Perry's office to have the neighbor arrested for his howling dog. He states that the howling is a sign that there is a death in the ... See full summary »
A very nervous man named Cartwright comes into Perry's office to have the neighbor arrested for his howling dog. He states that the howling is a sign that there is a death in the neighborhood. He also wants a will written giving his estate to the lady living at the neighbors house. It is all very mysterious and by the next day, his will is changed and Cartwright is missing, as is the lady of the house next door. Perry has a will and a retainer and must find out whether he has a client or a beneficiary. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
First time the character Perry Mason ever appeared on film. See more »
Perry Mason makes mention of a howling police dog after bringing in a psychiatrist to observe Arthur Cartwright, yet at no time did Arthur Cartwright ever state that the howling dog was a police dog. See more »
This is the first of the Perry Mason movies. Warren Williams brought the famous lawyer to life in much the same way that Raymond Burr would breath life into the Erle Stanley Gardner character for television in 1957. Surprisingly the first incarnation of Perry Mason is not that far from the later television creation. In the first movie as in the first television episodes Perry is a conniving shrewd barrister who not only bends the law but at times uses tricks that may actually be illegal. The Warren William incarnation would change with his next three films with Perry becoming a womanizing boozer. In "The Case of the Lucky Legs" Warren Williams' Mason has trouble staying sober long enough to do his job. After Warren Williams left the role, Ricardo Cortez and Donald Woods tried the part on for size and did fairly decent portrayals of the sharp-witted counselor. Television's Perry Mason also changed with time, but rather than going in the direction of playboy souse, being the McCarthy era, Raymond Burr's portrayal made Perry a scholarly type who won his case through sheer knowledge of the law and thorough investigation procedures.
The first Perry Mason movie, "The Case of the Howling Dog," is possibly the best in the entire series. It was remade for television, turning out to be one of the best in the Raymond Burr series. Much of this is owed to the cleverness of the original book written by mystery writer Erle Stanly Gardner, but Warren Williams and later Raymond Burr should also be given credit for making the whole thing work.
Warren Williams is ably assisted by a covey of fine actors and actresses including Mary Astor who would later make a permanent mark on movie history playing Brigid O'Shaughnessy in John Huston's classic "The Maltese Falcon." Della Street is there to aid Perry with a hint, as with the later TV series, of a romantic connection between the two. The character of Paul Drake does not appear but would appear in the next film, "The Case of the Curious Bride," as Spudsy Drake, played by the fine character actor Allen Jenkins, who plays Det. Sgt. Holcomb in the first film. Unlike William Hopper's TV Paul Drake, Spudsy is more of a comical sidekick for Perry, more in line with William Katt and William Moses' Paul Drake in the made for TV Raymond Burr Perry Mason movies. Also missing from the Warren Williams Perry Mason's are Hamilton Burger and Lt. Arthur Tragg. In their places we find Det. Sgt. Holcomb and District Attorney Claude Drumm, ably played by Grant Mitchell.
The case this time is extremely complicated. The viewer has to follow the events concerning the Cartwright's and the Foley's very carefully, especially in the beginning. Talk about wife swapping! Gradually Perry and his associates are able to unravel the mystery but wait, there is a twist at the end that you don't want to miss just when you think the whole thing has been worked out and the guilty person exposed by Perry.
Warren Williams not only plays Perry with gusto but adds much humor to the goings on. If you think Raymond Burr is the definitive Perry Mason, seeing this film may change your mind.
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