Saturday 1 February 2020

Perry Mason episode 2x05, The Case of the Curious Bride

Having just reviewed Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Curious Bride I’m now doing a parallel review of the Perry Mason TV series adaptation of that book which aired early in the second season (in October 1958 to be precise).

My review of the novel can be found here.

It would have been next to impossible to do completely faithful adaptations of any of the Perry Mason novels. A novel provides opportunities for levels of plot complexity that just cannot be translated to the small screen, and Gardner’s plots were very involved. The writers of the series therefore took considerable liberties when adapting the novels. In the early seasons most episodes were adaptations but in later seasons the bulk of the episodes were original stories. Most of the adaptations are quite good but obviously fans of the books were going to compare them to the books and be disappointed when particularly clever plot twists had to be discarded. For that very reason I think that on balance I prefer the episodes based on original scripts.

In this instance the basic outline remains pretty similar. A woman (named Rhoda Reynolds in the TV version) is newly married but she’d been married before and had never divorced her first husband because she thought he was dead. He isn’t dead and now he’s blackmailing her. Now the first husband has been murdered and she’s the very obvious suspect. She even admits to having struck him with an iron poker.

With that kind of evidence most defence attorneys would be dismayed, but not Perry Mason.

Complicating matters is the weak second husband, totally under the thumb of his obnoxiously domineering (and very rich and powerful) father.

There’s also Rhoda’s friendship with surgeon Dr Michael Harris, a friendship that is innocent but could very easily be misconstrued.

DA Hamilton Burger does not appear in the novel (this was an early Perry Mason novel and the character had not yet been introduced) but he does appear in the television version.

Perry pulls off some very clever tricks with bells and doors in this story and Hamilton Burger finds himself even more comprehensively outmanoeuvred than usual. While it departs from that of the novel in various ways the TV episode still boasts an eminently serviceable plot.

The TV adaptation of The Case of the Curious Bride can be considered as being pretty successful.

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