|Index||8 reviews in total|
Perry Mason is the lead tutor for a module of a law degree set in a mock
classroom. His students include Ken Malansky and the Frank Wellman Jnr -
son of one of Perry's good friends. When he finds out that Frank raped
girlfriend, Ken storms into the mock courtroom (where Frank is practicing
his summation) only to find him dead. Giving his state and the situation,
Ken is arrested and charged. He turns to Perry for his defence, who
reluctantly agrees despite the impact on his friendship with Wellman Snr.
Meanwhile Ken investigates despite the `help' of his ex-girlfriend
For those who know the Perry Mason series and enjoy it, they will find that this film continues doing what it has always been doing. The formula is all in place - the investigation by Mason's sidekick, a girl involved in that investigation, Mason's interviews, the court case and the eventual twist. All this it does as well as it usually does (ie not great but reliable and familiar) but it also adds some aspects to the mix. The element regarding Mason's conflict with Frank Snr has potential but sadly it doesn't do enough with it apart from put a plot twist into the middle of the film - but it doesn't have the emotional clout that it should have had. The other thing this film does is introduce to the series that character of Ken Malansky as a replacement for Paul Drake. The film uses him quite well, even if he is less assured than he would become.
Ken, as Drake always did, is reluctantly paired with a woman as his investigative partner. Here he has his ex girlfriend, Amy, with him - as he would for 3 or 4 films after this one. However her character is annoying here - too snobbish, irritating and really difficult to like. The fact that someone is kooky can be an endearing thing but here her character is too forceful and outside of the habits of polite (not rich) society. The only thing that is good about her role is that Paul is an OK actress and is easy on the eye. She is in the shadow of Moses though, who steps up to the challenge of making his mark and securing his employment. Katt is a sad loss to the series simply due to his family connection to the show, but I enjoy Moses a little more - and he has better hair than Katt absurd perm!
Mason does well but he doesn't step up to meet Brian Keith's more emotional input. Ken's class is badly served; I'm sure the actors could have done well but I was surprised how little time they had on screen - Mason's interviews took up less time than usual. None of them really make a mark and, worse still, some of them really force their scenes, supposedly because they knew how little time they had to shine. The `oh look it's...' face this time is Mark Rolston - not a famous name but you'll recognise him from many big films including Shawshank Redemption, Rush Hour, Robocop 2 and Aliens - shame he is only given about 3 minutes of screentime!
Overall this is still a solid entry in the series (if you generally enjoy the series). It doesn't do anything new above the formula but it has an interesting (if poorly used) subplot involving Perry and it also sees Malansky take over from Drake - however I would have preferred the film to partner Malansky with Drake for this film (rather than Amy) and provide a proper handover for the fans!
This entry in the Perry Mason series marked the first time that William
R. Moses makes an appearance. He's young law school student Ken
Malansky and they meet as Perry is giving a lecture to the participants
of a moot court of soon to be graduates.
One of my favorite ironic moments in the Perry Mason series occurs in this film, Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson. Raymond Burr gives a very good speech to the group about juries, people bringing all kinds of baggage from their every days lives to a jury. They're no better or worse than any other average group of folks you can get out of a phone book. But that as a jury they become a noble body and one should never demean them in any way.
It was a great moment of eloquence for Raymond Burr, one of the best in his career as an actor. It ought to be mandatory in law schools in fact. Yet we are talking about Perry Mason who never let a case get that far to a jury, at least not in any of the movies or the couple of hundred episodes from the original series that I recall.
Anyway among the participants of the moot court is John Allen Nelson, the spoiled son of Brian Keith who is an old friend of Burr's. He's a really rotten kid who's dad has used money and influence to get him out of trouble before. During moot court Moses threatens him and later goes out looking to him some bodily harm. But someone beat him to it when he finds the body and he's discovered with the corpse of the late Mr. Nelson. Of course Moses turns to Perry Mason for help.
For fans of the old television series, the character of Ken Malansky actually does have a precedent. For a couple of seasons Perry Mason had an actor named Karl Held play young lawyer David Gideon whom he also defended in a murder trial. Held popped up in a dozen or so episodes after that.
Anyway you know this kid had a host of people who didn't like him in his study group and others. But Perry ferrets out the killer in his usual manner.
William R. Moses joined the TV film series after that as William Katt as Paul Drake, Jr. departed for a series Top of the Hill that didn't last. Neither Moses or Katt have ever lacked for work however though they both are now forty somethings.
It's a good episode and fans of Billy Moses consider it a landmark.
Raymond Burr returns as Perry Mason, this time defending young law
student Ken Malansky of the murder of a fellow student.
This episode introduces William R. Moses as Malansky, who in future stories would take over the job of Mason's law associate and investigative legman.
Alexandra Paul also debuts, for a much shorter stay as Ken's "fiance", Amy Hastings.
The story follows the same tried and true formula as all Mason stories tend to do with the guilty party exposed in court at the end. In this case the histrionics were exceedingly effective when the guilty party was revealed.
I have always had the feeling the producers had planned to make Amy and Ken a sort of younger version of Mason and Della Street, but upping the romance angle. Sadly, Alexandra Paul made the decision to leave before the plan could come to fruition.
All in all an above average entry in the series and well worth your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A law student, Ken Malansky(William Moses), in a class taught by the
respected and admired attorney Perry Mason(Raymond Burr)is framed for
the stabbing murder of a fellow student, the brash, cocky and
good-looking Frank Wellman, Jr(John Allen Nelson)who had assaulted and
almost raped his girlfriend, Kimberly(Karen Kopins). Kimberly and her
brother Scott(John DeMita)are also in Mason's class studying court law.
After convincing Mason of his innocence, Perry finds the case troubling
due to who the murdered student's pops was..his friend from the past,
successful, financially influential, and incredibly wealthy businessman
Frank Wellman, Sr(Brian Keith). Despite Wellman Senior's urgings to
remain off the case, Mason agrees to represent Ken, whose life takes a
roller coaster ride when a flame from the past pays bail, filthy rich,
feisty, sublime, and beautiful fiancé Amy(..the yummy Alexandra Paul).
Soon Amy is playing amateur sleuth attempting, like Ken, to find out
answers as to who was in that locked room the night Wellman Jr was
That night is important. Only those in the classroom knew of Frank's late-night studying for a mock trial to occur the next day. Kimberly's fellow student and roommate informs Ken of what Frank did to her. Enraged Ken storms out to confront Frank. His knife was stolen two weeks prior to this specific night. As Ken's leaving Kimberly's friend is smiling, that's because she was actually the one behind Frank Junior's success, writing and preparing everything for him..when he dumped her, revenge(..Ken beating him up)caused that smile as Ken was leaving angrily. Once Ken makes it to the classroom(..not seen is a stop by a cop who writes him a ticket, important in the case later on), he lifts the key ring from the security guard, bursting in and finding Frank lying dead on the floor, his own knife in the murdered student's back. The real killer, silhouetted in the darkness, brushes Ken aside framing him. A major important piece to the puzzle is a video geek, Eugene(Brian Backer, of "The Burning" fame)who might have evidence or knowledge of something important to Mason's case..Amy's pursuit of the truth for her man will possibly reap results as she sets her sights on catching Eugene. But, ultimately, Mason's skills as an attorney will yield the best results as he moves towards Frank Junior's past which may cost a life-long friendship, even calling pops to the stand regarding how he *helped* his son get ahead in law school. One more twist comes from Ken's roommate Travis(Charley Lang)who mentions that he witnessed him rummaging through his dresser drawer finding his knife, possibly endangering Mason's case.
I grew up watching these Perry Mason movies as a child and loved them. Of course, Mason isn't the imposing towering presence he was as a character actor in his classic Hollywood days, so a great deal of the field work which yields results in his case come from snoopers Moses and Paul, who you just know will end up together by the tele-film's end. What I always appreciated most was Burr's resolve and charisma, even as a much older Mason, who moves much more gingerly, you believed in his wisdom and nose for figuring out the details not yet revealed. Paul is delightful and lights up the screen and Moses, trying to deal with a case that could send him to jail and juggling two female relationships at the same time. Moses would later join Mason as that budding lawyer, working on the field for his boss pursuing leads, putting himself in danger. Barbara Hale also returns as Mason's confident Della Street. They have the same eternally wonderful chemistry from the old television show. The movie, as the others would continue to provide, unravels clues and other suspects emerge. And, as expected, Mason rips to shreds those who threaten his case finding the real culprit in the process.
This is the first movie with William R. Moses ("Falcon Crest") starring as
Ken Malansky (nobody can remember this name !) supporting lawyer Perry
(Raymond Burr) and Della Street (Barbara Hale) during murder
He enters the series by being accused of murder. But we know, Perry will defend him and proof his innocence ! This is interesting and nice enough for an evening in front of your TV at home.
Of course we will miss William Katt as Perry's assistant, but you will like William R. Moses, too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** It's when law student Ken Manlansky, William R.Moses,
finds out from his collage girlfriend's Kimberly McDonald, Karen
Koplin, dorm roommate Donna, Leslie Ackerman, that fellow law student
and all around wise guy Frank Wellman Jr.,John Demita,tried to rape her
when he got good and drunk at the local ginmill he just blew a fuse!
Rushing down to McClaren Hall's Moot Court facility were Frank was
practicing and perfecting his summation to the jury Ken Malansky, or
"Big Mo" as he's known on campus, was just about to let Frank have it,
with a right cross to the kisser, when he found out that someone else
got to him first! There on the floor is Frank dead with a knife,
Malansky's knife, stuck in his back! Arrested on the spot for the
murder of Frank Wellman all Malansky can think of is getting his law
professor the great Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, to take on his case!
Perry faces a dilemma here in that the deceased or murdered Frank
Werllman is the son of his best friend in the whole wide world
successful businessman Frank Wallman Sr, Brian Keith, whom he went to
law school together with!
It takes a lot of soul searching on Perry's part but after studying all the evidence in the case he in fact agrees to defend Malansky knowing that the guy was not only innocent of murder but was in fact framed by the person or persons who murdered Frank Wallman! Malansky also faces a very pressing problem, besides his standing trial for murder, in his estranged girlfriend Amy Hasting, Alexandra Paul, that he dropped like a hot potato showing up in courtroom unexpectedly to pay his bail, a cool $250,000.00 smackers, as well as punching him out for two timing her!
***SPOILERS*** It was in fact the spunky Amy Hasting, instead of the what looked like a beached whale Perry Mason, who despite being dumped by Malansky did all the leg work in finding Frank's killer. Malansky for his part started to realize what a jerk he was in his shoddy treatment of Amy who risked her life as well as bank account,if that jerk Malansky decided to jump bail, to save his rotten and ungrateful neck. In the end Frank's killer was exposed by Perry at Malanky's murder trial to the relief of Frank's dad Frank Wallman who in trusting his good friend Perry Mason was to find out the right person who did Junior in! Even though Frank Jr. for all the trouble he caused everyone on campus had it all coming to him!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Perry Mason is lecturing at a law school in Denver Colorado and finds
himself defending one of the students, Ken Malansky (William R Moses),
whom is accused of killing fellow law student Frank Wellman. The
prosecution believes it has an open and shut case because the murder
weapon was Malansky's own knife - it has his initials carved on the
blade. Malansky also had a strong motive because Wellman, although
regarded as one of the school's rising stars, was actually a cheat. He
had former girlfriend Donna Lehman (Leslie Ackerman) do his exam papers
for him and he raped Malansky's girlfriend Kimberley Macdonald (Karen
Kopins). Mason has plenty of suspects who had as much reason for
wanting Wellman dead as his client - not least Kimberley, her
domineering and devoted brother Scott (John De Mita) and Donna Lehman
whose own academic work suffered as a result of Wellman. Mason also
faces a predicament of his own - Wellman's father, Frank Wellman Snr
(Brian Keith) is a friend from his law school days and he thought the
world of his son and whenever he got himself into trouble i.e. drunk
driving and assault, Wellman Snr, being a wealthy businessman, kept him
out of trouble by buying the victims off and keeping his son out of
court. By accepting Malansky's case, Mason is putting a long standing
friendship on the line.
One of the better Perry Mason revival movies, which saw the departure of William Katt's Paul Drake Jnr and the introduction of Mason's new right hand man, the young attorney Ken Malansky. The character's introduction into the series is handled well - Mason represents him at a murder trial and gets him off - well, how else? - and in between fighting to clear his name Malansky has to choose between two women vying for his attentions - fellow student Kimberley Macdonald and Amy Hastings (Alexandra Paul), a wealthy socialite who is also resourceful and determined to get the man she loves. Alexandra Paul is great in the part and in turning amateur detective - much to Ken's dismay - she actually uncovers a vital witness who helps Mason unmask the real murderer. But who is the right choice for Ken, Amy or Kimberley? No, I won't say how it turns out but will confine myself to say that it wasn't who I expected it to be. Brian Keith is also quite good as Frank Wellman Snr and it makes a change to see the old friend of Mason's routine varied a little in that on this occasion he puts a long standing friendship at risk in representing the man accused of murdering his son.
Overall, Lethal Lesson is an above average entry into what seemed like a never ending series. The script plays fair with the audience and the final revelation of the killer when it comes will surprise the audience and its twists are logically laid out and not just dreamed out of thin air with no insight as to how Mason solved them, which was a problem for many episodes and it ended up frustrating viewers rather than surprising them.
As a big fan of Billy Moses, I would have to say his entrance into the series was awesome and believable! This movie captivated me with it's romance and suspence. Also the humor aspect of it all. It was just a good natured film!
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