Perry Mason: Season 1, Episode 4

The Case of the Drowning Duck (12 Oct. 1957)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 132 users  
Reviews: 5 user

Perry Mason, Della Street, and Paul Drake head to a small town to defend a young man who is charged with poisoning a blackmailer. They learn the man's father was executed for killing a man in the same town eighteen years earlier.



(based on the novel by), (teleplay)
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Title: The Case of the Drowning Duck (12 Oct 1957)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Hamilton Burger (credit only)
Lt. Tragg (credit only)
Carol Kelly ...
Lois Reed
Nolan Leary ...
Judge Harry Meeham
Victor Sutherland ...
Clyde Waters
Carolyn Craig ...
Helen Waters
George Norris
Paula Winslowe ...
Martha Norris (as Paula Winslow)
Marv Adams
Harry Landers ...
Donald Briggs
Olive Blakeney ...
Mrs. Wilma Adams
Rusty Lane ...
Police Chief Glass


Donald Briggs has brought Lois Reed back to a small town in his attempt to blackmail multiple people. He was hired by Clyde Waters to investigate the background of young Marv Adams. Adams is a college student with a knowledge of chemistry engaged to Clyde's daughter Helen. Briggs has contacted several people including Mrs. Wilma Adams and Mr. Waters from whom he wants additional money as Marv's father was executed for murder. Clyde Waters contacts Perry Mason to check out Briggs and the information he has obtained. When Perry and Paul Drake attempt to talk to Briggs, they find him dead. When the police determine Briggs was gassed, they assume Marv Adams is guilty due to his knowledge of chemistry. Perry who has looked into the trial of Marv's father, believes the father did not receive a fair trial due to poor representation and the unwillingness of the both the prosecutor and defense to involve a Miss X who was the daughter of the local minister. In order for Perry to prove his ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

courtroom spectator | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

12 October 1957 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first episode with a female murderer. See more »


When Mrs. Adams is found dead of a heart attack, the actress playing her is obviously still breathing. See more »

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User Reviews

An Unusual Undercurrent
19 September 2008 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

It's a challenge to untangle the various relationships in this early, rural episode. Nonetheless, there's one overriding reason to comment on the 60 minutes that otherwise slips by. Lodged somewhat unnoticed in the script is a rather startling development for any series of the time-- an innocent man, Deveraux, has in fact been convicted and executed for a murder he did not commit, even if it did occur 18 years earlier. Now, this is a surprising plot device especially for a series that otherwise exalts our criminal justice system. The tragedy is explained in part by Deveraux's defense lawyer, Don Beddoe, who admits he lacked the ability to mount a proper defense. But however it's sliced, execution of an innocent man remains a supreme injustice that had no chance of being used again once the series established a higher profile.

The entry itself is a good one despite the many complications. At first I thought the drowning duck trick was simply time-filler. Then I realized it serves the purpose of showing that the young defendant, Marv Adams, flirts with a possibly cruel act, thereby strengthening the prosecution's case. The acting, as usual, is quite good. Carol Kelly is affecting as the rather blowzy "other woman", along with Paula Winslowe as the wronged wife. Note Mason's almost truculent courtroom behavior, a long way from his later polished decorum, as he spars with the judge who accuses Mason of big city airs. For fans of the series, these early episodes could still take chances.

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