PERRY MASON MOVIE COLLECTION: VOLUME 3
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Raymond Burr as PERRY MASON
Barbara Hale as DELLA STREET
William R. Moses as KEN MALANSKY
Studio: CBS Video
Directed by: Christian I. Nyby II
BY KEVIN CARR
Like the previous six-movie DVD sets of Perry Mason made-for-TV movies, the episodes contained in Volume 3 are just as deliciously cheesy and fun for the nostalgia they hold. They’re the kind of things I’d watch with my mother when I was in high school and college, or on broadcast television while visiting a family member who didn’t have cable. (Even then, cable in the early 90s was nothing like it is today with a thousand stations specialized for every need.)
The Perry Mason movies are rote and standard. They follow a set formula that goes back to the dozens of books written by Erle Stanley Gardner. Raymond Burr, even as he was appraoching the end of his life during these productions, was still going strong as the title character. He seemed in better health than the last wave of movies, which featured him mostly sitting and sometimes walking with a cane.
Burr brings a comfort to these roles, and he gets his hands dirtier in this batch, dealing with a child in “The Case of the Defiant Daughter” as well as traveling to Las Vegas for that one as well as Paris in “The Case of the Desperate Deception.”
Like the other films in the series, and as television was in the 80s and 90s, these movies relied on guest stars, which is fun to reflect on watching them more than two decades later. Some stars would still be considered stars in retrospect, like Ian McShane, Robert Culp or Robert Vaughn. Others are up-and-coming, like Angela Bassett or Terry O’Quinn. Still others were on their waning days in Hollywood, removed from their most famous roles, like Cindy Williams, Paul Anka and Tim Reid.
If you’re looking for original stories with new twists and turns, you’re not going to find it here. Also, if you’re looking for realistic courtroom dramas, you also won’t find it here. There’s plenty of unnecessary confessions on the stand that would never happen in real life, and there’s always a twist that Perry figures out. However, if you like a dose of early 90s TV movie nostalgia, you could do a lot worse than this set of films.
Each of the three discs contains two movies, though there are no special features included.
“The Case of the Poisoned Pen”
Perry comes to the aid of a mystery writer’s conference after one of the most famous – and caustic – writers is murdered before eveyrone’s eyes. Perry has to defend the main suspect while sending Ken and Della out to find some clues that the other mystery experts have overlooked.
“The Case of the Desperate Deception”
In a swanky episode featuring a trip to Paris, Perry helps out a friend’s son who is the suspect in the murder of an alleged former SS officer. Perry hits the foreign streets to uncover the truth not just behind the murder itslef but the war crimes that are associated with it.
“The Cast of the Silenced Singer”
Vanessa Williams stars as a famous singer who is found dead in her apartment after a show, and her husband is the prime suspect. Perry and Ken are hired to prove him innocent and to track down the violent thug who actually committed the crime, learning the real connection between everyone involved.
“The Case of the Defiant Daughter”
It’s another road film for Perry, who travels to Las Vegas and is hired by the young daughter of a man accused of killing the man who drove his brother to suicide. Featuring a rare story of vulnerability for Perry, we see him learn to interact with the child while maintaining his grumpy credibility on the case.
“The Case of the Ruthless Reporter”
In a case of news gone wrong, a reporter is found murdered, and the minefield of relationships he left back at the stations suggests anyone could have done it. Perry comes in to help one of the co-workers and sort through the mess of potential revenge-takers.
“The Case of the Maligned Mobster”
After a gangster’s wife ends up dead, Perry reluctantly takes the case of defending her husband. Not only does he have to dig through the seedy underbelly of contacts for the defendant, Perry has to defend himself against prejudices of other people who think the gangster isn’t worth defending.