28 November 2007 | blanche-2
Donald Woods is this film's Perry Mason
Donald Woods stars as Perry Mason in "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop," a 1937 film that also stars Ann Dvorak as a lively Della Street. Frank Faylen is also on hand to pep things up a bit. Both of them are needed, because Donald Woods isn't terribly exciting. Of the men who played Perry Mason in the films, he is perhaps the closest rendering to the actual character. But the book Perry Mason was just that - for books - and it would take Gardner himself to not only choose Raymond Burr (the original Perry Mason was supposed to be Fred MacMurray until Gardner saw Mason at an audition for Hamilton Burger) but oversee the scripts to make the translation to the moving image.
The story concerns a mysterious bishop who asks Perry to help clear a woman accused of manslaughter many years earlier. From there, the story gets into mistaken identity - is a woman posing as an heiress or isn't she - and the solving of a murder. It's a very complicated plot, so pay attention. And Paul Drake is old. If you can sort it all out, you'll find it interesting. There's a little comedy to be had, which is helpful.
I like watching the Perry Mason movies, if only to see the different interpretations of the various roles and the emphasis put into the stories, but in the end, it's best to forget who these characters are supposed to be - because after watching the TV show for years, none of them are. So don't expect much in that department, and you won't be disappointed.