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This final film of Raymond Burr finds Burr as Perry Mason defending a
soap opera star, Genie Francis, who is accused of murdering her
arrogant co-star who was having her character put into a coma and
effectively out of the show. The kicker is that her contract would have
prevented her from seeking work elsewhere. Of course the victim, Sean
Kanan was doing these kinds of things any number of others are prime
candidates as a potential killer.
The title Perry Mason: The Case of the Killer Kiss stems from how the victim died. Seems as though he was allergic to walnuts so a script calling for him to plant one on Genie Francis was given him and her lipstick given some walnut oil. Then his allergy medicine was spiked with enough to put him into anaphelaptic shock. Effective indeed.
The Case of the Killer Kiss follows the usual Mason formula, but the real story here is that the film was made at all. Knowing that the series rose and fell with him, Burr signed for the season knowing how ill he was, but also knowing that NBC would have to make the rest of the season quota somehow or pay Barbara Hale and William R. Moses in any event. Hence the 'Perry Mason' movies with Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook that followed.
A lot of the footage involving Burr was filmed with him seated or in rear projections or behind something he could lean on, all to disguise the pain he must have been enduring in making The Case of the Killer Kiss. But it was completed and gave Hale and Moses some additional work because of the contract.
I always thought that was one of the classiest things I'd ever read about anyone in show business. I wish that The Case of the Killer Kiss was as worthy of Raymond Burr as The Misfits was for Clark Gable or The Shootist for John Wayne. Still, I suppose just doing the character for which he was most known and loved for is in itself a great tribute.
On the set of a popular daytime soap opera `Mile High', actress Kris
is being forced off by co-star Mark Stratton. When she says that she'll
`kill him before she leaves the show', she makes herself the prime suspect
when Stratton is murdered by someone poisoning him. As an old friend,
Mason comes to the help of Kris and agrees to defend her. Meanwhile Ken
goes in search of information with the help of fan of the
The final Perry Mason film which starred Burr in the title role, this is a fairly typical entry in the series that gives the audience all we would usually expect from the films. The plot is OK but it seems a little bit more forced than in other films in the series. The film enjoys poking fun at the soap opera types - although not as gleefully as I would have expected a TVM series to have done!
Mason does his usual stuff - ripping through TV actors in small roles as red herrings etc. Burr is good in the role as one would expect from someone in the role for so long. Moses has his usual stuff to do - chasing thugs with an useless female sidekick, but it is a little lame this time and the autograph hunter is very irritating. The supporting cast contains nobody of note and none of them really excel themselves, just delivering by-the-numbers performances.
Overall Mason fans will like this because it goes through the formula well and has all the usual stuff. The lack of stronger actors and characters in the support cast is a problem, but essentially the film does what all it's predecessors have done - deliver the usual story in a build up to an average scene of minor fireworks where the real killer is revealed.
Raymond Burr makes his last appearance as Perry Mason in this film. Mason finds his hands full in a case involving actors in a soap opera and a very unusual murder weapon. Featured in the guest cast are several popular daytime performers including Genie Francis as the framed defendant. Burr, as always is above reproach as Mason. Though not among the series best, there does appear to have been an effort to break the mold a bit, with a little more jeopardy for Mason's legman, Ken Malansky.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Perry Mason enters the world of TV soap operas to defend Mile High star
Kris Buckner (Genie Francis) whom has been framed for the murder of her
co-star, Mark Stratton (Sean Kanan). Somebody spiked actress Charlotte
Grant's (Krista Tesreau)lipstick with walnut nut oil knowing that the
actor would kiss her in a scene and, as a result, has an allergic
reaction. The crew fetch his allergy kit but that had been spiked to
and he dies. The police figure that Buckner killed her co-star because,
on the day before he died, Stratton demanded that her part in the show
be drastically cut by having her character go into a coma. In a rage,
Kris struck Stratton on the face saying "I could kill you for this." To
make matters worse, a duplicate allergy kit of the murdered man is
discovered in her dressing room and she was seen re-entering the studio
on the night before Stratton died. Mason learns that Stratton was
detested by all who worked on the show and many had reasons for wanting
him dead. They include production assistant Mimi Hoyle (Karen
Moncrieff) who was once Stratton's lover and she became pregnant with
his child. But, he demanded she have an abortion and threatened to have
her fired if she did not. The show's producer, Evan King (Michael
Tylo), also had motive because it turns out that Stratton was putting
pressure on the production company to axe him from the show so that he
could take over completely. Mason is puzzled as to why Stratton
appeared to have so much control over the running of the show because,
after all, he was only the leading man. Mason sends Ken Malansky
(William R Moses) to the rural town of Cedar Grove - Stratton's home
town - where an unsolved old murder from thirty years ago could hold
the key to the killer's real identity.
This was Raymond Burr's final appearance in his most celebrated role as the Los Angeles defence attorney Perry Mason in what seemed like a never ending series of revival movies that began with Perry Mason Returns in 1985. Burr sadly died in 1993. Basically, with these films, if you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all. However, there was a few exceptions where the series successfully broke away from the routine courtroom drama formula, but this is purely standard fare. If you love the series, as I do, then you will love it and for somebody who has never seen an episode before then its not a bad place to start as the storyline has enough to keep one engaged for a couple of hours and the script generally plays fair with the audience. The supporting cast, while undeniably second league, is more than competent and Arleen Sorkin is good as an irritatingly obsessive soap fan, Peg Furman, who gets under Malansky's hair as he does his usual heavy lifting in order to track down vital witnesses and clues for his boss - as ever, risking his life in the process. Only Furman, as much as Malansky wanted her out of the way, turns out to be useful as she unwittingly holds a vital clue to the killer's identity as a result of her sneaking into the TV studio and stealing a copy of Mark Stratton's script. A coffee stain bearing the indentation of the murdered man's personalised mug on the script helps Mason unravel the mystery.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** One of the most confusing of all the Perry Mason TV
movies which in fact was the last of the bunch released some two months
after it's star actor Raymond Burr, Perry Mason, passed away. The movie
has Perry Mason take the case of his private secretary Della Street's
,Barbara Hale, goddaughter TV soap opera star Kris Buckner, Genie
Francis, who's accused of murdering her co-star on the popular daytime
TV soap "Mile High" actor Mark Stratton, Sean Kanan.
You can see right from the very start the case against Kris is very weak in that so many other people on the set of "Mile High" had it in for the brash arrogant and, what we find out later about him, blackmailing Stratton far more the Kris did! Stratton had a habit of manhandling his female co-stars with his sloppy on camera smooches! Despite his uncouth behavior on the set with a very angry and insulted Kris that as it later turned out was really the last reason anyone wold have wanted to do the self styled Casanova in. As we find out Stratton was allergic to walnuts and in what turned out to be his last kissing scene someone spiked his leading lady, who replaced Kris, and fiancée Charlotte Grant's, Krista Tesreau, lipstick with a swab of walnut oil! That had Stratton after planing one of his patented sloppy smooches on Charlotte get sick and then go into convulsions. Getting an emergency allergy or anti-walnut kit from his dressing room Stratton immediately gives himself an injection and then within seconds passes out and drops dead on the spot! As it turned out the needle didn't contained any anti-walnut serum in it by a douse of 100% deadly,to Stratton, walnut oil!
Being that Kris had a fight with Stratton on he set of "Mile High" the day before, after he smooched her on camera, and was the last person seen in the studio the evening before he mysteriously died she was immediately suspected in Stratton's murder. Perry with the help of his leg-man private investigator Ken Malansky, Robert R. Moses, together with "Mile High" groupie Peg Freeman, Arleen Sorkin, track the truth down about Stratton's untimely death that leads to his home town Ceder Grove. It turns out that Stratton made his way up the ladder of success in the world of TV soap operas not by his acting talent but his blackmailing of people in high places!
As you would have expected Malansky,known as the human punching bag, gets the hell beat out of him but as usual gets the goods that his boss Perry Mason wanted him to get in getting his client Kris Buckner off! Malansky does have the daffy Peg, whom at first he didn't have any use for, save his butt a number of times who in the end has Perry or actor Raymond Burr, who looked like he had one foot in his grave, save the day by keeping the bumbling Ken Malansky from getting his brains blown out!
***SPOILERS*** Wild final with a fight breaking out in the courtroom between two of the main witnesses as well as evidence being brought out about a video fencing ring inside the "Mile High" studio. All this had to do with the studio's night watchman Mort Aberdine, Richard Riehle, being too busy stealing the show's rushes and selling them to an unscrupulous video distributor who duplicated and then sold them, for a hefty price, to eager "Mile High" fans before they were even shown on TV! The question is what did all that have to do with Mark Stratton's murder? The answer is that it made it possible for the killer to sneak into Stratton's dressing room to plant the walnut oil in his emergency kit! The killer himself is broken down under cross-examination by Perry Mason in revealing his reasons for doing Stratton in. And as you would have expected it all had to do with greed and success and the fact that Stratton was blackmailing him that the killers very reason for living, in his mind, was in jeopardy with the only option left open for him being in murdering the blackmailing swine!
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