In the second film of the series (and not a second part of anything), Gay Lawrence, aka The Falcon, is about to depart the city to marry his fiancée, Helen Reed, when a mystery girl, Rita ... See full summary »
Lawyer Perry Mason is summoned to the Laxter mansion in the dead of night to write granddaughter Wilma out of invalid Peter Laxter's will, to keep her from marrying suspected fortune hunter Doug. Peter dies in a mysterious fire and Laxter's two grandsons, Sam Laxter and Frank Oafley, inherit his estate on the condition old caretaker Schuster and his cat Clinker are kept on. When cat-hating Sam threatens Clinker, Perry steps in and learns Laxter's death was suspicious and the family fortune and diamonds are missing. Schuster's found dead in his basement apartment, Laxter's nurse Louise is murdered with Schuster's crutch, and circumstantial evidence brings Doug to trial for Louise's death. Mason's investigation produces a surprise witness who turns the trial around. Written by
Sister Grimm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Perry Mason 5: Straight, Slick, Serious & Impenetrable
I really loved Warren Williams' 1st Perry Mason film, THE CASE OF THE HOWLING DOG. As with most viewers my introduction to Perry was Raymond Burr, but despite WW's very different look and behavior, I felt I was still watching the "real" Perry. Not so in the follow-ups, where outrageous comedy all but pushed the murder mysteries to the back.
What a shock it must have been when WB did THE CASE OF THE BLACK CAT with Ricardo Cortez. This film seems designed to be the "anti-WW" Perry Mason movie. Cortez' Perry plays it straight, as does Della; for the first time Paul Drake is actually called "Paul" instead of "Spudsy", and we finally get to see D.A. Hamilton Burger! While much thinner than Burr, Cortez has a vaguely similar look and attitude, and the general format familiar to anyone who's watched the TV series is recognizably present, including the courtroom scenes at the end where Perry solves everything.
It's a very well-made film, but if I have any problems with it it's this: Perry doesn't seem to stand out much, and Della, Paul & Burger do so even less. Also, the mystery is SO complex, after watching it twice uncut, I STILL can't make heads or tails of it! It all comes together at the end, in a very long-winded monologue from Mason. I expect this sort of thing from Hercule Poirot, but wouldn't a courtroom judge insist on a lot further testimony from others to corroborate what Mason says? It's almost a shock when Mason asks for a dismissal and the judge agrees, instead of the guy telling Mason his head's spinning from everything Mason just said!
I suppose the biggest mystery concerning this film must be, WHY did they only do ONE film with Cortez and his supporting cast? (But then, I'm also wondering why WB seemed bent on sabotaging the series after Warren William's excellent debut installment as well.) Maybe Hollywood just didn't like mysteries that were too "intelligent".
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