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Fashion newspaper editor Dyan Draper has a habit of exposing those in the
fashion world in her column. It's only a matter of time before she in
bumped off by someone. Lauren Jeffreys is the main suspect as she had a
public fight with Draper and was seen entering her building shortly before
her death. Lauren is a friend of Della's so Perry takes the case despite
also being a witness for the prosecution. Meanwhile Ken hooks up with a
minor-Mafia hood to hunt down the real killer.
If you've seen one of these things then you've seen them all. The legal realism of these shows are always very doubtful but the drama is still enjoyable. Here for Mason is a witness but is still allowed to prosecute - also they do an unusual and unfair line up in the courtroom itself! Mason does his usual ripping into the witness stuff which is good and this time it isn't as straightforward as it usually is with a view twists making the climax different from usual (slightly). Ken's investigation is better than usual here and is enjoyable thanks to the presence of mobster Loomis as his partner - makes a change from Alexander Paul or some other dippy girl.
Burr is as good as ever in a role that he could do in his sleep with no real difficulty. Hale is as underused as always but seems happy to be there. Moses does his usual stuff and gets help from Clohessy (best known for Oz)who is quite enjoyable, despite being a bit of a caricature (`hey! Gone on get outta here' etc). Muldaur is solid and is an unusually famous defendant having been in Star Trek. DiCenzo is fun in a small role as a dressmaking mobster!
Overall this doesn't really stand out from the majority of the Mason movies but if you like them then you'll like this. It isn't the best of the series but it's as good as the rest. Worth watching if you liked any of the other ones.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some Spoilers) Taking a trip to NYC to get an award from the American
Bar Association Perry Mason and his private secretary Della Street,
Raymond Burr & Barbara Hale, run into an old friend at a local
restaurant the founder and editor of Metropolitan Magazine Lauran
Jeffreys, Diana Muldaur; not knowing that within the next 24 hours
she'd be charged with murder and he'll be the attorney defending her in
court. It turns out that Lauren after having a loud argument at the
restaurant with rival fashion editor, of the sleazy tell all tabloid
Suite 2000, Dyan Draper ,Valerie Harper, she came over to Dyans place
later that evening. It was after Lauren left Dyan was found dead with
her head cracked open on the floor.
Perry as usual has his work cut out for him with Lauran not only being at Dyan's place the night of her being found murdered but having a motive in killing her. Dyan was going to print an editorial about Lauran taking bribes from fashion designer Marco Sabatini, GIanni Musso,in order to write favorable columns about him in her Metropolitan Magazine. Perry later at cross-examination of Dyan's eventual murder seems to have gotten the two magazines mixed. The mysterious murderer had the favorable columns about Marco written on Dyan's Suite 2000 Magazine personal computer. This was to make it look like it was written by Lauran who coincidently also turned out to be the mother of Dyan's assistant and one of her top fashion, or gossip, writers Julia Collier,Ally Walker!
Trying to track down the link, Designer Marco Sabatini, that can connect Dyan's murder to who murdered her Perry gives that assignment to his hot shot PI the very durable and punch-drunk Ken Malansky, William R. Moses. Malansky gets hooked up with members of the New York Mafia who were financing Marco's career in the world of fashion and who's boss is Marco's distance cousin Albert "Big Al" Nandone, George Dicezzo. Getting nowhere with "Big Al" and his top henchman tough guy "Brooklyn Tony" Loomis, Robert Clohessy, Malansky finally has Perry himself get to step in and get "Big Al" to open up only to have Marco. It's then while "Brooklyn Tony" is slapping the pestering an annoying Malansky around that Marco gets killed by a hit-and-run driver who later turns out to be the person who murdered Dyan.
It takes a while for Ken Malansky to convince "Big Al" to keep his emotions from overtaking his logic in whacking anyone whom he as much as suspects murdered Marco. Malansky later finds out who was involved in Marco's hit-and-run death who also turned out to be the same person who murdered Dyan! It also turns out that the double-murderer was working for Dyan herself and even more shocking Lauran knew who she was and wouldn't report him, or her, to Perry or the police! Seething hatred revenge and a 25 year old grudge against Lauran lead to a maniacal plot to frame her for a murder that she didn't commit against a person, Dyan Draper, whom the killer should have been eternally grateful to.
Excellent Perry Mason show with the theme in the end that hell hath no
fury as a daughter scorned.
Valerie Harper briefly appears in a memorable portrayal. She plays a miserable fashion editor who digs up dirt on all those around her orbit. Of course, Harper, with her blond hair, is soon killed off. Suspicion immediately falls on Diana Muldaur, a rival editor, who had words with the Harper character right before the latter's demise.
The person playing Tony Loomis steals the show here. As an underworld hood, Loomis is jealous of college boy attorney Ken Melansky (Robert R. Moses) and lets him know it. You think that they're reaching some kind of bond, but when the they apprehend the guy they think knocked off the head gangster's cousin, Loomis shows his true colors.
Scott Baio appears as a young, sure-of-himself- D.A.- ready to lock horns with Mason. He tells him at the beginning that he looks forward to beating him in the case. We all know how this turns out.
Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Fashion finds Perry and Della Street
in New York getting an award from the American Bar Association. An
undefeated trial record ought to get some recognition I would think.
Anyway a friend of Della's, fashion editor Diana Muldaur gets herself
arrested for the murder of a rival, Valerie Harper and in fact Raymond
Burr and Barbara Hale witness a confrontation between the two at a posh
These two rivals have a thing going that makes Hedda and Louella look like school girls. Of course Harper has a number of other people who loved her equally as much.
The same perpetrator also ran down a fashion designer who could have exposed the individual. This throws Perry with his trusty investigative lawyer, William Moses in an alliance with some mobsters. Seems that the designer was a cousin of a mob boss who wants also to mete out some justice in their usual manner.
One thing I could not get is when Moses and mobster Robert Clohessy track down the perpetrator I cannot believe that the police were also not vigorously pursuing the case. Of course Clohessy has some access to sources that the cops just don't have.
But the best part of this particular Mason entry is Scott Baio as the young rather full of himself Assistant District Attorney introducing himself to Raymond Burr saying how he studied all of his cases and looked forward to beating him. Foolish Boy.
In fact my favorite scene is Burr and Baio at a sidebar with the judge. Baio was wanting to reopen his case and add a witness and came ready and prepared with precedents. Burr catches him off guard and says he has no objection to the new witness and then proceeds to demolish the witness on cross examination. Absolutely priceless.
Scott Baio is the best thing in this particular Perry Mason movie and it should be seen for him alone if nothing else.
Despite the fact that the plot follows the well-known recipe of "who did it", which has characterised all the Perry Mason movies so far, the characters of the present film are not so well-developed and the selected cast fails to give them flesh and blood. Of course, in general, the Perry Mason movies are not significant, but, even for their low standards, this one is weak.
Of all of the post-1985 Perry Mason movies I have seen, this one is my
I confess I have never liked Diana Muldaur as an actress. She only seems to know how to play one type of character - a hard-bitten career woman with some undefined chip on her shoulder who for that reason is extremely difficult to in any way sympathize with. This one is no exception - it runs true to form.
The only thing that saves this movie, in my opinion, is an earnest performance by Scott Baio as the prosecutor - I actually found myself rooting for him to win, and the movie is worth seeing for him alone.
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