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Perry's secretary Della and private investigator/lawyer Ken go to visit an old friend, rancher and famous lawyer, "Wild" Bill McKenzie. Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate Harlan Richards is murdered, and his daughter, Karen, thinks that Harlan's rival, Governor Ryan Allison, has something to do with her father death. But Ryan has had suspicions about the death and thinks that it involves somebody that is close to him. He calls Karen but when she gets there Ryan is dead and Karen framed for the crime. Bill, as a friend of the Richards family, starts to investigate, and Ken and Della are only too willing to help. This was made after Raymond Burr sadly passed away... Written by
Lee Horton <Leeh@tcp.co.uk>
It's sad that Hal Holbrook's character of Wild Bill McKenzie was a rush creation job to fulfill the commitment of NBC for Perry Mason stories after Raymond Burr died. He could have been successful had he been launched on his own, might have been given a fair chance to succeed.
Barbara Hale and William R. Moses, vacationing on lawyer/rancher Hal Holbrook's spread get drafted into helping with another case. This one involves no less than political assassination and I'm betting would have been on the front page of every paper in the country.
Kim Johnston Ulrich is the daughter of former McKenzie colleague, Ken Kercheval whom she believes was murdered and the man who is now governor of the state, James Brolin, is responsible. When she goes to visit him, one evening, the governor is found stabbed to death with a letter opener. Naturally she's looking good for it and naturally comes she gets Holbrook and the team for her day in court.
A couple of things struck me about this episode which you know had to have been written for Raymond Burr and would have made more sense given the Erle Stanley Gardner parameters he had to operate under and which the audience here would have been expecting for Wild Bill McKenzie. At one point Brolin's wife Deborah Raffin asks him how he could defend such an evil woman as Ulrich and he replies something on the order that since he's now rich enough, he defends only whom he wants and whom he believes are innocent.
That was certainly true of Perry Mason. I'm betting neither Mason or McKenzie ever got a mob hit man off on a homicide. At least once they could pick and choose clients. Still it does violate at least one canon of legal ethics that EVERYONE is entitled to a defense.
The Case of the Grimacing Governor had many generations of performers from old to new Hollywood in the cast. The old Hollywood was represented by movie legend Tony Curtis who has a small role as a very rich hoodlum with fingers in lots of pies. In an even smaller role is Ryan Phillippe as a banquet waiter whose testimony discredits so called eye witness testimony for the prosecution. This was before Phillippe hit movie star status.
With all that though I do have to wonder where was the governor's security during all this. On second thought we in New York lost a governor because he managed to ditch his trappings of security for a little indiscretion that cost him his office. By the way I'm still not convinced Elliott Spitzer ought to have resigned.
But that's the plot of another film.
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