**SPOILER*** Despite the excellent portrayal of Perry Mason by Donald Woods, considered to be the closest to the actual Perry Mason character of the Earl Stanley Gardner books, the overly complicated storyline sinks the movie before it even leaves the harbor.
Perry is contacted by this sputtering Bishop from Sidney Australia Bishop Mallory,Edward McWead about an event that happened some twenty years ago. This Bishop tells an amused Perry Mason, since when does a Bishop stutter, that he can prove that the heir to the Philip Brownley, Gordon Oliver, fortune his granddaughter Janice, Ann Nagel,is an impostor and the real Janice is actually the daughter of a woman who gave her up to him for adoption back in 1915.
After getting involved in a DWI, one of the first on record, where a man was killed Ida Gilbert, Mira McKinney,was kicked out of the Brownley mansion despite her being married to Philip Brownley's son. Alone and destitute with an infant, young Brownley's, daughter Janice the girl was later given, by the stuttering Bishop Mallory's church, to the Seaton family in Salt Lake city to raise as their own. Now some twenty years later this impostor, as Bishop Mallory calls her, Janice Alma Brownley is in line to getting the old man's, who doesn't have that long to go, money.
Murder deception as well as a number of surprises, in who did what to whom and why, keeps you as well as Perry Mason in a state of confusion during the entire movie. Brownley is told to go to the city docks by the real Jancie's, his granddaughter, mother Ida Gilbert where she'll show him a watch belonging to his son proving that her, not the fake Janice, daughter is in fact his biological offspring. Brownley ends up both shot with his car, with him in it, dumped down at the bottom of the bay with Ida Gilbert, wearing a light colored raincoat, being seen running from the murder scene.
The movie then just goes overboard in trying to fit all the clues together where the parade of murder suspects, real or imagined, in Brownleys death never seems to end. In fact when the film is finally over your still not quite sure what exactly happened since even Perry Mason is completely side-whacked in the courtroom during his famous cross-examination scene of the murder, of Old Man Brownley, suspect. ***SPOILER ALERT***Just when you, and Perry, think the the "killer" is going to break down and admit his, or her, guilt someone completely out of the blue in the audience bursts out and admits to Brownley's murder!
If that, the big and emotional outburst by the so called murderer, isn't enough to get you to go outside to the nearest bar and get yourself a stiff drink it turns out the the person who just admitted murdering Brownley didn't in fact murder him at all! In pops Bishop Mallory, with his head bandaged up and not stuttering anymore, who was supposed to be back in his native Australia after he was worked over by two hired hoods, who were to keep him from exposing the fake Janice Brownley, in his hotel room. The what seems like omnipresent Bishop Mallory also turns out to be an eye witness to who actually killed Old Man Brownley; the person who ran Mallory down on the docks with Brownley's car and left him for dead. On top of all that Brownleys killer just happens to be in the courtroom where he can easily be arrested and later booked for his crimes! Talk about surprise endings!