DVD Review: Perry Mason Movie Collection (Volume 4)



Perry Mason was doing well in 1991. He remained the top lawyer used by anyone on TV who really wanted primetime legal representation. Even with the competition including Matlock and LA Law, Perry Mason still commanded packed courtrooms with his made for TV movies. Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 4 contains six more of these specials that introduced Mason (Raymond Burr) to a whole new generation of law students. Little did people know that these would be part of the final cases handled by the legend.

“The Case of the Glass Coffin” is a magical affair. It really is a magical affair since world famous magician David Katz (Girls & Newhart‘s Peter Scolari) can’t keep his rabbit in his pants. He comes to town to perform for a children’s charity. Turns out his show is about to have big changes. He’s knocked up one of his assistants and she’s going to make him pay for the trick. Katz’s wife is upset since she and David haven’t been able to have a kid. They’ve been trying. David making a baby appear in another woman’s womb upsets her. Well this ugly situation doesn’t last nine months. At the big charity performance, Katz does his glass coffin trick. Turns out the normally empty coffin has a dead body inside. Luckily for everyone, Perry Mason is in the audience and he wants to solve this fatal illusion. Della Street (Barbara Hale) continues to be his faithful secretary. Ken Malansky (William R. Moses) and Terry Weidner (Kate Vernon) are the muscle and legs uncovering the mystery for Perry. Perry might be timeless, but his knees and back weren’t up for heavy lifting. “The Case of the Fatal Fashion” dares to show Valerie Harper (Rhoda) as a bad girl. She’s a fashion magazine editor who enjoys horrifying her employees and writing nasty columns about others in the industry. This eventually leads to her murder. Thankfully the prime suspect is a friend of Perry. In a major stretch, Scott Baio (Happy Days) is the assistant D.A.

“The Case of the Fatal Framing” is an art world mystery. A painter (Starsky and Hutch‘s David Soul) who had died a few years back turns up alive and ticked off at gallery selling paintings he didn’t make. Things get even more complicated because the woman who died with the painter might not also be dead and her husband wants her back. What matter most about this episodes is that it guest stars John Rhys-Davies. This actor is his own convention since he’s appeared in ever major movie series including James Bond, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings and a few Star Treks. Now he is with Perry Mason.

“The Case of the Reckless Romeo” features Geraldo Rivera dead. What else needs to be said about this episode to make it essential viewing? Somebody kills Geraldo and Perry has to help get the main suspect sprung. Sadly someone has to be found guilty. “The Case of the Heartbroken Bride” proves that Perry Mason never gets a day off. He gets invited to a wedding which includes a guest list of Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Ronny Cox (Deliverance), Paul Dooley (Sixteen Candles) and Diane Baker (The Silence of the Lambs). After the lovely ceremony, one of the relatives turns up murdered. Guess who gets immediately hired by the prime suspect? Perry is on the job immediately. “The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal” pits Morgan Fairchild (Flamingo Road) against Tippi Hedren (Marnie). A cosmetics company owner exposes that her age defying secret is their next major product. Before the lotion can hit the market, she’s creamed. The formula is missing. It’s up to Perry Mason to prove her husband isn’t a guilty bastard.

Burr does a fine job as Perry Mason even as his health issues were compounding. The show gets tailored around him so that he saves his energy for courtroom swagger. He spends most of his screen time standing in place or seated. He’s no longer running around town uncovering clues. But his presence is felt in every scene he sat out. Sadly he only had two more movies left in him which ought to be part of the fifth and final volume.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The movies appear to have been shot on film and edited in standard definition video. This means the resolution isn’t quite as refined as the DVDs of the original black and white episodes. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo. The sound allows you to hear Perry make his perceptive noises. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 4 is the last full collection of Raymond Burr playing the iconic lawyer. The highlight of the six movies is getting to see Geraldo bite it.

CBS DVD presents Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 4. Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William R. Moses and Kate Vernon. Boxset Contents: 6 movies on 3 DVDs. Released: October 7, 2014.

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