(director: Archie Mayo; screenwriters: Jerry Chodorov/Ben Markson/Brown Holmes/from the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner; cinematographer: Tony Gaudio; editor: James Gibbon; music: Leo F. Forbstein ; cast: Craig Reynolds (Frank Patton), Patricia Ellis (Margie Clune), Lyle Talbot (Dr. Bob Doray), Allen Jenkins (Spudsy Drake), Porter Hall (Bradbury), Charles Wilson (Officer Ricker), Barton MacLane (Police Chief Bisonette), Joseph Crehan (Sgt. Johnson), Henry O’Neill (DA Manchester), Joseph Downing (George), Mary Treen (Spudsy’s Wife), Anita Kerry (Eva), Peggy Shannon (Thelma Bell), Olin Howland (Dr. Croker), Genevieve Tobin(Della Street), Warren William (Perry Mason); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Warner Bros.; 1935)

A dreadful jokester Perry Mason episode.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dreadful jokester Perry Mason episode dishearteningly directed by Archie Mayo(“I Married A Doctor”/”The Mayor of Hell”/”Charley’s Aunt”). It disdains the murder mystery in favor of its lightweight bad jokester screenplay, as written by Jerry Chodorov, Ben Markson and Brown Holmes. It’s inspired by the Erle Stanley Gardner novel. This is the third time Warren William plays the big-time lawyer and sleuth Perry Mason for Warners.

When the sleazy con man who runs a phony “lucky legs” beauty contest, Frank Patton (Craig Reynolds), tries to leave town without paying the winner, Margie Clune (Patricia Ellis), the thousand dollars she won, she follows him before he can flee and he’s found the next day knifed to death in his hotel room with a doctor’s surgical knife in his heart. Colonel Bradbury (Porter Hall), Margie’s middle-aged smitten boss, wanting to marry her, hires Mason to find her when she’s missing and also to recover the money so it could go to the winner. When Margie’s discovered living in a hotel with her new roommate Thelma Bell (Peggy Shannon), a former winner of the legs contest who was also cheated out of her winnings, the case turns to finding the killer of the scoundrel. The main suspects are Margie’s prudish jealous boyfriend Dr. Doray (Lyle Talbot) or the romantically possessed colonel.

Mason’s sassy secretary Della Street is played with proper spunk by Genevieve Tobin. Allen Jenkins plays the dim-wit Spudsy, who does the leg work for Mason as his private dick. Barton MacLane is amusing as the gruff cop, who would like to arrest the entire cast. Olin Howland plays the boozer Mason’s physician, who puts him ‘on the wagon’ with a milk diet and conducts a nonsensical physical exam of the patient while Mason’s explaining to a room full of cops who is the killer.

Not much to take away from this effort to blend together screwball comedy with a crime drama, except it doesn’t work here.