27 October 2002 | cinema_universe
well done, fast paced "who-dunit"
Of all the "Perry Mason" films of the 1930's (there were six films, produced from 1934 to 1937), this one has to be the best. -- At least, it's MY favorite.
Warren William, who played Mason in more of these films than anyone else, elevates this short murder mystery from programmer to an 'almost-A' feature.
Claire Dodd, as Della Street, is little more than window dressing, as were all of the "Della's" in these early Warners' Perry Mason films. Allen Jenkins gives one of his standard (but good) blustery performances as Mason's side-kick, Paul Drake (called "Spuds" Drake in this film, and a complete opposite of TV's dapper Paul Drake, played by William Hopper). The best supporting role was that of Olin Howard as the coroner, who is also Perry's good buddy, and frequent dining partner. The veteran character actress, Margaret Lindsay is the "Curious Bride" of the title.
The real surprise (the first time I saw this) was seeing Errol Flynn doing a "bit" part in a flashback sequence at the end of the film. Flynn has a non-speaking part as Margaret Lindsay's first husband. This flashback scene is narrated by the Curious Bride's current husband, played by Donald Woods (who would later play Perry Mason in another of these Warner Brothers efforts, though not anywhere as entertainingly as Warren William).
The use of soft-focus fades for every scene change, at first seems to help move the story, but can also be a bit irritating.-- Overall though, this is a well photographed film, --both the nicely composed interiors, and the outdoor urban location shots of 1935 San Francisco (although the Mason stories are mostly based in L.A.).
Directed by Michael Curtiz, this swift-moving murder mystery has the feel of many of Curtiz's bigger-budgeted Warner films, and is easily the best of the Mason series. At the same time, it is not too unlike the other 5 Mason films that Warners produced.
Unfortunately, Warren William could not play Mason in all of these films, but overlooking that fact, all six of the Warners "Perry Mason" films, including "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop", "The Case of the Velvet Claws," and "The Case of the Lucky Legs" are very faithful to the source material, and all are entertainingly done.
By the way-- because all of these films were adapted from original Earl Stanley Gardner stories, all of these titles showed up in the 1950's, produced as episodes in Raymond Burr's "Perry Mason" TV series. It's very interesting to see the different treatment these stories were given on TV.