American marine, David Berman, manages to get himself transferred to Paris in order to search for a hidden Nazi, Krugman that had killed his grandparents and crippled his mother. He managed to find a witness but just after she talks to David, she is run over and killed. That night, he is kidnapped by a shadowy organisation and told that Krugman is hiding under a new identity of Felix Altmann. David goes to a health spa and meets Altmann but Altmann is shot and David framed for the crime. As a old friend of the family Perry and Ken goes to France to help out but now Perry must not only free David he must find out secrets that have been kept hidden for over 45 years, secrets that certain people are still certainly willing to kill for... Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
"One of Raymond Burr's best latter day Perry Mason mysteries."
US marine officer Captain David Berman (Tim Ryan) has been arrested for killing a former Nazi SS officer called Dieter Krugman, whom was living in Paris in the guise of a successful businessman called Felix Altmann. The prosecution has a strong case against the defendant because it was well known among his friends that he had an obsession with tracking down Krugman as his mother Helene (Teresa Wright) is a survivor from a Nazi death camp in which she saw her two brothers murdered by Krugman before her very eyes. Helene is also a close friend of Perry Mason and she persuades him to fly to Paris and prove her son innocent. Mason believes Berman to be innocent because he tells both him and his mother that he wanted to have Krugman arrested and tried under the Crimes Against Humanity Law, which doesn't suggest he wanted to kill him. Nevertheless, that is not enough to win his case. But Mason soon discovers that Altmann's wife Danielle (Yvette Mimieux) has a strong motive for wanting her husband dead because she was having an affair with one of his former employees Andre Marchand (Ian McShane) and needed her inheritance to support his business interests. In addition, Mason has a mysterious Nazi hunter called Otto Rosen (Ian Bannen) to investigate whom refuses to fully explain why he conducts his activities in hiding rather than with the public, which most other Nazi hunters do.
THE CASE OF THE DESPERATE DECEPTION is one of Burr's better latter day movies as Perry Mason, which is easily his most celebrated role. Between 1985-93 he returned to the role over twenty times in a series of made for TV movies. These varied in quality with several suffering from lacklustre scripts, which threw clues at us out of nowhere with no real insight as to how Mason solved them. In addition, the running time was often padded out since the films more often than not were far too long for their plots with the exploits of Mason's sidekick Ken Malansky (William R Moses) who often raced around the States trying to track down a missing witness that was vital to his employer's case with a few fights and car chases thrown in.
Here, however, we have a stronger plot line than usual and George Eckstein's script doesn't just dream up clues out of nowhere and the story moves neatly and logically to its conclusion. It also makes a nice change to see Malansky's part used more effectively, in which the car chases are abandoned in favour of more straight detective work as not to confuse the plot. Raymond Burr is enjoyable as always especially in his courtroom scenes as he grills the real guilty party at the witness stand and we also have a better supporting cast than usual with veteran British actor Ian Bannen who is very good as Otto Rosen. Teresa Wright offers a sympathetic portrayal as Helene Berman who has to relive her horrifying memories of the concentration camp in order to help Perry Mason prove her son's innocence.
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