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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Perry Mason: Season Four, Vol. 2'
(Raymond Burr, William Hooper, William Talman, Ray Collins, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2009 / Paramount)

Overview: Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deeply into the facts, startling facts can be revealed. Often relying on his outstanding courtroom skills, he often tricks or traps people into unwittingly admitting their guilt.

DVD Verdict: These twelve TV films from 1961 are mostly stories based on the characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner. The books are more complete and informative and tell stories about life that is not experienced by most people. The books can tell you why certain things are done, the films only show you what happened. The books tell you about "ropers", rough or smooth shadows, and how to evade surveillance and avoid leaving a back trail.

Some may question the legality and ethics of Perry Mason's tactics but most stories were written before the modern legal rules of the 1960s. The backgrounds tell about life in Los Angeles. It is difficult to film a scene at night but easy to describe it in a book. The seeming reality of these stories is due in part to characters who don't look like Hollywood actors.

Wintry Wife; Angry Dead Man; Blind Man's Bluff; Barefaced Witness; Difficult Detour; Cowardly Lion; Torrid Tapestry; Violent Vest; Misguided Missile; Duplicate Daughter (1960); Grumbling Grandfather; and Guilty Clients

The theme music is typical for that era. Note the style of clothing and culture; ladies wore white gloves. People seldom lock their doors. The prices date these films. One advantage is seeing the many automobiles from the late 1950s. How many can you identify? Note the slimness of people then, and the familiarity with pistols. Smoking was very common [a tobacco sponsor].

Watch how the actors express their emotions by their facial expressions. The camera sharpness and quality is excellent on these films. There is nothing like these dramatic stories on today's broadcast TV. When was the last time you saw a trial lawyer as a hero?

These stories often use the misinterpretation of circumstantial evidence to provide dramatic effects. The courtroom scenes are usually the Preliminary Hearings. A story adapted from a Gardner novel has the year. [AO] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.