Perry Mason (1957–1966)
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The Case of the Lost Last Act 

An ex-gangster decides to pull out of a play the author is basing on a real life mob related killing. His threatening request is recorded so when the playwright is murdered, he is charged with the murder as Perry sorts out the actors.




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Episode cast overview:
Joanne Gilbert ...
Faith Foster
Katharine Bard ...
Helen Dwight
Ernest Royce
Frank Brooks
Jim West
John Gifford
Robert McQueeney ...
Michael Dwight
Connie Cezon ...
Court Clerk


At a script read-through of a new play by Ernest Royce, the last act has been stolen. Royce has words with the producer, John Gifford, and the publicist, Jim West, who think the new play is dreadful. None of the Royce written plays produced by Gifford have had good revues or produced a profit. The new play may even be a roman a clef that could be hurtful to the real people characterized. Royce threatens Gifford with exposure if the play is not produced. Meanwhile, Royce is having an affair with Faith Foster, the ingenue of the play. Tough guy Frank Brooks who has a mob related background has $75K, and his girlfriend Faith, invested in the play, and he wants his assets back. Brooks rather rough request for his money back to Royce is recorded on Royce's Dictaphone. Royce is murdered, and Brooks consults with Perry Mason, who is concerned the New York City mob may be involved. Written by richardann

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

21 March 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jerome Cowan, who portrays playwright Ernest Royce, had a long and varied career as a character actor, with 220 titles in his Imdb filmography. They included the classic The Maltese Falcon, in which he played Miles Archer, the partner of Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart). Cowan's role was arguably a cameo, since Archer gets bumped off within the first few minutes of the film. See more »


When Perry is questioning the publicity man (Richard Erdman) Jim West on the stand, Perry brings up photocopies of newspaper West has written. Perry asks the court that the copies be entered in evidence, yet after asking the court, the clerk does not come up to do so, nor does Perry wait for the court clerk, he turns back around to continue his questioning of the witness ; as happens when Perry enters another photocopied newspaper into evidence. See more »


[first lines]
Ernest Royce: Steve says, "I know my people. I know the two faces of them. The faces they wear for the public, and the secret faces they show only to each other." Gilbert says, "Perhaps. We'll see. When do I get the last act." And Steve says, "I starting it as soon as you leave. If I live to finish it." Steve opens the door for them, and they exit. Steve grins, sits at his desk, switches on the Dictaphone and begins to dictate. Third act. It's a few minutes after midnight as the curtain rises, ...
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User Reviews

Overly ambitious episode highlighted by good cast
21 April 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a very dramatic episode and it makes you really admire the extremely hard work that was often done by actors and producers in the old TV days. The hard work in this case was necessitated partly due to the episode's over-reach to what is probably the limits of concept and story that can be accomplished via weekly TV. You either will buy into the "live and die by the play" persona of Jerome Cowan's character or you won't, but Cowan does bring stature and gravitas to his pivotal role. He portrays a playwright and the episode is partly a sort of homage to Shakespeare who is quoted by the characters including lawyers in court. Heady stuff, a very ambitious TV concept and as I say maybe an over-reach.

The cast is terrific and they accomplish a dramatic ending, with skilled acting by TV perennial David Lewis. Lewis was around for many decades on television as well as having good parts in notable films such as the classic "The Apartment". He was highly respected in his era but is not very well known nowadays.

This episode was written by the distinguished Hollywood scriptwriter and literary editor Milton Krims. His participation is an indication that this episode of "Perry Mason" was in fact intended to be a really serious and high concept TV production but I didn't know that when I first saw the name "Krims" on the screen. I thought this must be a joke or a nom de plume- "Krims" spelled backwards is "Smirk", but now I realize who he was and that this is his real name.

Intensity and a heavy tone with little or no relief or levity is tricky to do in a series TV episode, yet this one does manage to elevate to a high standard in my opinion despite the limitations of the genre.

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