Perry Mason: Season 8, Episode 16

The Case of the Thermal Thief (14 Jan. 1965)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.9
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Lona Upton is tired of hearing her half-sister memorialize her dead husband so when Maxine Nichols arrives to return Lona's purse, she takes in Maxine as a friend. After Maxine steals a necklace and is murdered, Lona is charged with it.

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Title: The Case of the Thermal Thief (14 Jan 1965)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Perry Mason (credit only)
...
...
...
...
Lt. Tragg (credit only)
Wesley Lau ...
...
Ken Kramer
Bettye Ackerman ...
Amy Reid
Burt Metcalfe ...
Jeffrey Mills
...
Lona Upton
...
Pete Kamboly
Richard Eastham ...
Roland Canfield
Nina Shipman ...
Maxine Nichols
...
Fay Gilmer
Noel Drayton ...
Mr. Costelni
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Storyline

With Perry Mason away in Europe, his friend Ken Kramer takes on the case of Lona Upton, accused of murdering Maxine Nichols who was found dead in the park across the street from where she was staying. Maxine was a thief and had only just recently been released from prison. She had weaseled her way into the home of Amy Reid and had quickly become friends with Amy's half-sister Lona Upton. Lona tired of hearing about her sister Amy's constant attention to the death of her husband in the Catalina channel five years earlier is glad to have the companionship of Maxine. Maxine had known Amy's husband when she was a cocktail waitress on Catalina. Maxine steals a necklace from Amy's safe that turned out to be just a cheap paste imitation. When Kramer establishes a connection between Maxine and Amy Reid's dead and much revered husband Dion, it leads to the identity of the killer. Written by garykmcd

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

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Release Date:

14 January 1965 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Perry in Europe-- but the show must go on
29 November 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For the second time in season 8, this episode does not feature Perry. His absents is again explained, by Della, that he is in Europe. So for the second time this season we have a guest lawyer defending a client in this "Perry Mason' episode.

The plot is somewhat complicated but the story is interesting. We have a widow, Amy Reid (Bettye Ackerman), that inherited a lot of money from her husband's boating accident and drowning. With all that money she let her half-sister, Lona Upton (Kathie Browne) live with her in a large house in a great neighborhood.

Lona had her purse stolen and it just so happened a stranger named Maxine Nichols (Nina Shipman), who is also an ex-con, finds the purse and brings it to the house. After a few drinks and the late hour, Maxine is invited to stay the night. But instead of sleeping she opens a safe and steals Amy's necklace worth thousands. But is captured moments later by some routine patrol officers that happened to be in the neighborhood.

The widow, Amy, believes her half sister Lona gave the stranger the combination to the safe. So Amy drops the charges and expects to find out where Maxine got the information about the safe. Before that can happen Maxine is found dead in a playground where Lona just happened to walking. Instead of calling for help Lona high tails it out of the area only to be served a warrant for murder the next day. Since Perry is away we have Ken Kramer (Barry Sullivan) defending Lona for the murder of Maxine.

And with some complicated who-knew-who-and-when testimony we start the mystery of the week to find out who is the true murderer.

I would have rather had Raymond Burr at the defendant's table but I thought Mr Sullivan did a good job as the fill-in lawyer. It did help that the story was interesting and the surrounding cast was top notched. This made, the sometimes timid Sullivan, work easy as he used Hamilton Burger in the same way Perry does every week. Overall his performance in this episode was good.

The only problem I had with the entire episode was the courtroom ending. I know this is TV but no respectable court is going to have spectators in the gallery stand up and start accusing others in the crowd. Nor are we going to have the lawyers asking questions, and expecting a response, to someone in the audience. But I guess it tidies up the ending for the writers and makes viewers gasp- so I am sure it will continue.

Even without Perry this episode is a good watch. And before the 52 minutes end - not only one murder has been solved but two.

Note- Burt Metcalfe, producer of MASH, plays Jeffrey Mills in this episode.


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