Raymond Burr, Richard Anderson, Barbara Hale. Sure, the emotional, on-the-stand confessions proving his clients' innocence were predictable by this point in the series, but it's still great TV! Watch for guest spots from Dick Foran, Ann Rutherford, Fay Wray and more. 13 episodes on 3 DVDs. 1959-60/b&w/10 hrs., 24 min/NR/fullscreen.
"You're that lawyer, arent you?" a reluctant material witness addresses the impeccably dressed man asking questions about her soon-to-be-murdered boyfriend. Yep, he's Perry Mason, and his reputation precedes him. In "The Case of the Lucky Legs," one of this three-disc set's twelve black-and-white episodes, a policeman who finds Mason at a crime scene greets him with an impressed, "Well." Mason inspires that kind of admiration with yet another heavy caseload of seemingly guilty clients on trial for murder. Episode after episode, one can only marvel at Mason's courtroom cunning that will allow him to identify the real culprit and make him or her squirm on the witness stand until they confess. The cleverly plotted episodes unfold with compelling twists and turns. In "The Case of the Spurious Sister," a husband is understandably confused that his no-good gambler wife, whose murder he ill-advisedly tried to cover up, should apparently turn up in Las Vegas and sue him for divorce. In "The Case of the Garrulous Gambler," a blackmail scam worthy of David Mamet takes a deadly turn. In only one memorable episode can viewers be absolutely certain of the innocence of Mason's client; it's private detective Paul Drake (William Hopper), who has been charged with the murder of a philandering married man who was involved in a hit and run. Through it all, Mason is characteristically cool and confident. In "The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma," he jokes that his only concern about Paul is that he will be able to pay Mason's bill. Now and then, Mason will resort to unconventional methods to see that justice is done. In "The Case of the Blushing Pearls," he stages a little arson to roust a suspect from his hotel room. A Saturday night staple during its Emmy-winning nine season run, Perry Mason
's pleasures are many, from Fred Steiner's indelible theme song, "Park Avenue Beat" to the character actors with the B-movie names (Lisabeth Hush in "Lucky Legs") and Mason's epilogue summations prompted by his befuddled staff ("Well, there's only thing I don't understand
."). This volume is a must for fans of Erle Stanley Gardner's iconic character who are compiling Mason's complete case history. --Donald Liebenson