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|Index||12 reviews in total|
A rather routine melodrama from the bountiful Perry Mason filmography,
probably below average for the series, but still above average for most
This episode gets knocked for its use of color, with such statements as: looks like it was colorized, the crew didn't have experience with color, etc. However, I disagree. I find it's use of color above average for TV of the period.
If one were to look at other color programs from the 1960s, one will see that, in general, colors were rather bright, use of contrast or shadows was not great, and there was not much concern over subtlety of shading. This was in particular due to the color TV sets of the time that lacked the significant details and color variations of film, and of what we see with modern TV. This was true until finally in the early 70s some thought was given to increase contrast and color variation in TV sets, as was done with black matrix and trinitron screens.
The idea of color on TV then was to show it bright and brightly lit, and to prompt sales of color sets, quite different from film production. Take a look at the original Star Trek for an example. In fact, for those like myself who can remember this period, TV and Film were entirely two different worlds, and they rarely met except when somebody was able to make the jump from TV to film. It's not like that today.
In regards to this episode, I'd suggest that in fact it used more shading than was common to other color programs of the time, and was actually a better example of good use of color in a medium that lacked such. To the one who thinks it looks colorized, I'd think that was more a product of your own bias that Perry Mason ought to be B&W and not in color, as you know the colorized films ought to be.
To the one who feels the crew lacked experience, well, that's just a big laugh for me because the one thing the Perry Mason crew did not lack was cinematography experience. That's like telling a veteran artist doing a charcoal that he or she probably can't do the same in color, basically an ignorant comment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A tiresome Charles Dickens ripoff about a man Ben Huggins (Victor
Bueno) running a gang of teenage thieves as a modern day Fagin,
including a leader named Bill Sikes (Scott Graham). The episode begins
with Perry and Della taking Angel's Flight, the famous LA funicular
downhill to drop off some papers while a gang of boys strip his car.
Later Perry decides not to prosecute 18 year old Lennie Beale (Kevin
O'Neal) because he has some idea he'd be ruining the boy's life.
Beale's life gets ruined anyway as he's charged in a murder after a home burglary and Perry comes on to defend him. Another weak entry in the show's cannon of bad episodes that were done to appeal to a younger, "hipper" demographic. The acting seems pretty bad all around, the story annoying, and the only noteworthy thing about this is that its the only episode filmed in color.
The big thing about this show was it was the only 'Perry Mason' episode
filmed in color. I assume that some people remember the show for the
color and then overlooked the story that was a dull mix of rehashed
plots and 'Mod Squad' type music.
A seventeen year old juvenile, Lennie Beale, is caught with stolen property from Perry's car. Perry, feeling like he should help the teenager, refuses to prosecute. But unknown to Perry, Lennie is part of a teenage gang that strips cars for a man named Ben Huggins (Victor Buono).
When Lennie is charged with a murder, Perry again feels led to come to the defense of the teenager that will tried as an adult. Perry will cross-examine witnesses until he finds the true murderer, in a rather poor confession, and brings down a ring of thieves that is helpful to LA Police Department.
The only bright spot of the episode is the acting ability of Victor Buono. His acting was entertaining and believable. The young actor that played Lennie, Kevin O'Neal, seemed more like reading lines than acting. At the conclusion of the show, while in the military uniform, was some of the poorest acting seen in a long time. The episode was really not that bad but it just did not have the power that previous episodes contain. Don't be fooled by the color - the color was nice it was the script that was black and white.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1963, Perry Mason creator Earl Stanley Gardner was annoyed at both Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) and William Talman (Hamilton Burger) for publicly criticizing the declining quality of Perry Mason scripts. By 1965-66, Perry Mason, still in black and white, was up against NBC's Bonanza, which had been in color since it's debut in 1959, and which was #1 in the Nielsen ratings. The president of CBS, William Paley, commissioned a color episode of Perry Mason be filmed, so he could see what the show would look like in color, should it be renewed for a 10th (1966-67) season, the season all prime time shows went color. The color Perry Mason was likely filmed in September or October, 1965. There are no 1966 cars in it, as seen in later black and white episodes. CBS announced in November, 1965, that Perry Mason would not be renewed for a 10th season, but that all 30 episodes commissioned for season 9 would be filmed (black and white filming continued until March, 1966). The color episode, The Case Of The Twice Told Twist, was broadcast on CBS in color on February 27, 1966, about 2/3 of the way through season 9. The final nine episodes, leading up to the May, 1966 finale, were filmed in black and white. Barbara Hale (Della) discusses the color episode in an interview on the 50th Anniversary Perry Mason DVD release from 2008, where the episode is featured in very good color.
This is perhaps the worst episode of Perry Mason I've seen. The color
seems to have gone to the actors heads. The acting is bad, the script
has way too much pontificating, the story is preposterous. It's just a
The color photography is bad - the first time I saw it I thought it had been colorized. The photographic direction seems to be poor as well. The same techniques that usually work in the black-and-white episodes certainly don't work in this episode, but looks tacky.
For true fans, you gotta see it. Hopefully you can enjoy it for what it is - it may be bad, but it's Perry Mason.
I'm thinking that Gail Patrick Jackson who produced the Perry Mason
series must have thought let's give Erle Stanley Gardner's intrepid
defense attorney the look of color. By 1966 CBS and ABC were converting
to color which was previously the province only of NBC. It was not only
a new look of color, but the whole tone of the episode was that of
something that could have been from the Seventies, like Starsky&Hutch.
William Hopper as Paul Drake got in some action sequences as befit his role as Raymond Burr's personal private eye. The story was not so loosely based on Oliver Twist with Victor Buono running a ring of juvenile car thieves and being paid off in art objects for his collection. One of Buono's epicene villains and a good one, but not one you see in Perry Mason.
The villain really is Bill Sikes and if you remember Bill Sikes and Nancy meet a bad end in the Dickens novel. Here Scott Graham and Lisa Seagram also meet a bad end and it's the Oliver Twist character Kevin O'Neal that gets hung with the rap.
Burr, Hopper, and the ever present girl Friday Della Street save O'Neal's bacon. And in color too.
Recidivism or rehabilitation? The whitest, most clean-cut bunch of
hoodlums L.A. has ever seen attacks Perry's Lincoln Continental for
parts rather than just steal the thing (and car theft was easy in those
days!). Perry won't press charges because, well, the boy is only 17,
and cute besides (irony alert, Raymond Burr).
Considerable comic relief is provided by Victor Buono as the evil henchman Huggins (rotund and in a bathrobe) managing the 'clean-cut' boy gang. "How many pairs of bucket seats can you use?" he coos to his fetching Mexican fence, and pronounces "penchant" in the manner francais. Good thing the gang goes to an expensive prep school so they can understand things like that. Oh for the days when petty criminals wore jackets & neckties...
The exceptionally vivid color, the jazzy score and the silly 'Oliver Twist' theme separate this from most PM episodes. It's definitely not one of the strong, tight Perry Mason plots (see the early seasons for those), but it's fun and scenic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What strikes me most about this episode is how we get to see Los
Angeles as more crime ridden than we would have in prior years. By
1965, car stripping was becoming an issue in this city, and the Watts
riots had taken place. This is clear at the very start when Perry Mason
has his own car stripped at the Angel's Flight Railway in downtown.
With a heaping help of influence from Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist," we are treated to a very interesting, and VERY action packed episode. It is very watchable, and watching the great Victor Buono is a real treat, as always.
This episode would not be the reason for the show's cancellation. What killed it was its terrible time slot, Sunday at 9 a.m., directly opposite No. 1 rated "Bonanza." Had it been renewed for a 10th season, this episode gives us a good glimpse into what might have been, a color series with more action. And I think the show could have carried on through at least to 1968.
Whatever the case, this is one interesting watch!!!
Just saw this for the second time on KDOC.
It's easy to see why viewers were so shocked when they saw this episode that the series was canceled immediately.
1. The "More is Better" approach to color makes it look a bit like colorized b&w film. This is especially apparent in the faces of all the actors, looking like they were just plucked from a fruit bowl.
2. The contrast is way too great between these faces and especially their clothes, there is a feel that the conversations are between free-floating heads sometimes (on a calibrated NTSC Sony PVM monitor).
I think the DP and gaffers just didn't have enough experience with color design yet at this time. Can't help think what could have been done with today's way more subtle film stocks...
This episode is on the DVD series, would be interesting to convert it to monochrome and see what that would look like (I'm talking about a competent professional conversion, not just reducing the color saturation which looks just awful).
The back story was OK, but somehow not quite gripping in this presentation, and the lady from "Mechico" (Lisa Pera) although offering a passable performance, sounded like she had an Italian accent...
Cool to see a glimpse of the now gone L.A. Downtown funicular!
Giving this one two extra stars just for Victor Buono. He once told
Johnny Carson that Batman allowed him to do the one thing actors are
taught not to do - OVERACT. I'm thankful Buono didn't over-emote here;
I am less than thankful that the rest of the cast seemed to be "phoning
it in." Even Burr's performance was wooden (I've sen Al Gore look more
animated than this) and the attempts to be forgiving and understanding
toward juvies really are laughable, 50 years later. Ray Collins would
have had a field day with the kid Perry keeps forgiving. Perry Mason á
la 1965 doesn't cut it. This series was based on film noir, and the B&W
treatment just accentuated that as the years went by and more and more
shows went to color. Film noir became passé, and regrettably so Perry
Mason had to do so as well. I am grateful Burr had the good judgment to
end the series when he did - close to the top and on his own terms -
rather than soldier on as a caricature of his earlier shows.
Watching this episode in color made no sense to me the first time around - I was only ten, but I liked the show back then - until I saw Ironside on TV three years later. Burr's increasing body mass over the years looked better in color. (I gotta admit, though, Barbara Hale in real color was a BABE.) This almost looked like a hidden pilot for Ironside. The plot was straight from Dickens's Oliver Twist; Buono played it straight and delightfully despicable. Too bad the rest of the cast thought they were in an episode of Mod Squad.
Three stars for the storyline, two extra stars for the late, lamented Victor Buono.
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