These initially starred Warren William, who at the time specialised in playing fast-talking lawyers, with Ricardo Cortez and Donald Woods taking over for the final two instalments. All six have just been made available on a two disc DVD set, so this seemed like a good opportunity to celebrate these stylish and fast-paced legal thrillers previously unavailable on home video.
Erle Stanley Gardner was a lawyer of enormous energy with many outside interests, including writing fiction which he undertook under several names as well as his own. After 20 years in the legal profession and nearly as long as a pulp writer, he created his Perry Mason alter ego.
Mystery Movie Series of s Hollywood
In these zippy thrillers Perry is much more smooth and upmarket than he was in the fairly hardboiled books Gardner was writing at the time for starters — also, the films quite often spent little or no time in the courtroom, which must have rankled a bit too, though the first Mason book The Case of the Velvet Claws is also unusual in the canon for not having any courtroom scenes.
The Case of the Howling Dog The series begins with what was then the newest tale — indeed, it was so new that it had only been serialised in magazine form and not yet published between hard covers. Warren William, who had just taken over playing Philo Vance from William Powell, makes a great debut as Mason driving this slick entertainment, notable for sprightly direction from Alan Crosland with some very mobile camerawork; the presence of Mary Astor who keeps us guessing as to whether she is the killer or not; and the complete absence of a musical score not uncommon in early talkies.
It remains my favourite of the series though all of the films have something to offer. This would be the last of the series to be afforded A status by the studio ….
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They had started the series with high hopes and the first three pictures are all 8-reel A-pictures with directors and casts taken from the top-tier of the studio rank and file. But on the evidence of The Case of the Velvet Claws it seems that the returns must have been a proved disappointing as the films got downgraded to B-movies. Running times got cut down by about 15 minutes each to last about an hour or so on the bottom half of the double bill. Eddie Acuff however takes over from Allen Jenkins as Drake. This film marked a sad end to the career of director Alan Crosland, who began production on the film but after several days of filming was badly injured in a car crash on 10 July , dying six days later William C.
McGann completed the film. The Case of the Stuttering Bishop Perry and Della get new faces again for the sixth and final entry in the series, with Donald Woods, who in Curious Bride had played the weasel second husband of Rhoda, as the lawyer and the elegant Ann Dvorak as his faithful secretary. Joseph Crehan was the new Drake for a case involving a complex inheritance and inevitably murder too. Understandably, this film has not been included in the new DVD set!
Mystery Movie Series of 1930s Hollywood
Sergio — Thanks as ever for your perspective. And honestly, his legal strategies are part of what make that character fascinating. I think it would rankle in me not to see them as much on film. Certainly by the time they made the second one they were going out of their way to emulate the success of William Powell in The Thin Man , so the style got nearer to the screwball mystery, though of course this makes perfect sense since the Hammet adaptation always felt much more like a fast-paced Warner movie than the product of opulent MGM — Powell had in fact just jumped ship from one studio to the other so that probably had somethign to do with it … Interesting to note how thr Thin Man films got more and more glossy and closer to the Metro style as they progress.
Sergio, there was talk of some Archive sets getting issued as pressed discs. Is that the case with these movies? Which is a crying shame but they have never really been released legitimately on video as far as I know. I would have thought at least a limited run of such titles would still be profitable enough. This was a case of me hearing about the films being finally released and deciding to cheerlead in advance of arrrival!
I hope to have nice things to say eventuallly …. Hey, the news itself is very welcome. They are really great fun Patti, especially if you like s mystery thrillers in that fast-paced, wise-cracking Warners Bros style — the tone is radically different from the more famous TV show. Ricardo Cortez seems utterly wrong for Mason just as he was not so right for Spade.
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Getting off topic — better stop…. Your analogy to The Thin Man movies is apt. But for Mason it was all wrong. At least the plot remained intact — slightly risque bathtub murder and all. Just preparing a post on Blake Edwards and his various expenditions in the crime and mystery genre actually …. It was a lot of pressure on the actors, who often had to learn new lines and business immediately before shooting, without the luxury of retakes, but Loy credited much of the appeal of the film to Van Dyke's pacing and spontaneity.
He paid the most attention to Powell and Loy's easy banter between takes and their obvious enjoyment of each other's company and worked it into the movie. The director often encouraged and incorporated improvisation and off-the-cuff details into the picture. In order to keep her entrance fresh and spontaneous, W.
Van Dyke did not tell Loy about it until right before they shot it. Powell loved working so much with Loy because of her naturalness, her professionalism, and her lack of any kind of "diva" temperament. On her, Powell said: We were just two people in perfect harmony. Myrna, unlike some actresses who think only of themselves, has the happy faculty of being able to listen while the other fellow says his lines. She has the give and take of acting that brings out the best.
According to Loy, the actors were not allowed to interact between takes with the dog, Skippy; trainers felt it would break his concentration. Skippy once bit Loy during filming. Although she had great compliments for Powell's charm and wit, Maureen O'Sullivan who played the daughter of Wynant later said she did not enjoy making the picture because her part was so small and the production was so rushed.
The scene of Nick shooting the ornaments off the tree was added after Powell playfully picked up an air gun and started shooting ornaments the art department was putting up. Loy wrote that the biggest problem during shooting was the climactic dinner party scene in which Nick reveals the killer. Powell complained that he had too many lines to learn and could barely decipher the complicated plot he was unraveling. It was the one scene when several retakes were necessary, which brought up an entirely new problem. The script called for oysters to be served to the dinner guests and, in take after take, the same plate of oysters was brought out under the hot lights.
The film was released in May 25, to extremely positive reviews and was a box office hit, with special praise for the chemistry between Loy and Powell. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called it "an excellent combination of comedy and excitement", and the film appeared on the Times year-end list of the ten best of the year.
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In , critic Roger Ebert added the film to his list of Great Movies. His delivery is so droll and insinuating, so knowing and innocent at the same time, that it hardly matters what he's saying. In , the film was added to the United States National Film Registry having been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. Nick Charles then steps out of the cover to talk to fellow detective Philo Vance also played by Powell about his latest case.
Charles goes on to explain to Vance that his latest case revolves around a "tall, thin man" referring to Clyde Wynant , just before clips of the film are shown. Van Dyke was host. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Not to be confused with the British film production company Thin Man Films. Albert Hackett Frances Goodrich. The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, The Life and Films. Retrieved June 24, Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc. Archived from the original on Hollywood Through Private Eyes: Works by Dashiell Hammett. The Thin Man series.
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