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Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Case of the Stuttering Bishop (1937) William Clemens

The stuttering bishop is Bishop William Mallory and he wants Perry Mason to fight for a poor woman against a millionaire on a 22 year old case of manslaughter. Beyond manslaughter having a three year statute of limitations, the bishop himself is the key to the case and will be the star witness but plans to completely disappear until then. And then he gets knocked out and the mystery gets more confusing. It doesn't help that there are detectives everywhere and yet the best detective is a lawyer.

What we have here is a highly involved plot that drives around in a lot of directions but never seems to stay on the same road. Every time we find a nice little twist, we have to wonder how the heck we got there. It doesn't help that Donald Woods plays Perry Mason like a nervous Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Ann Dvorak looks terrible as secretary Della Street and only Joseph Crehan really impresses as detective Paul Drake. Thinking about the role distribution, Woods would have been better as Drake than Mason.

There's also Tom Kennedy as Gahagan, I mean as yet another character just like Gahagan in the Torchy Blane films who just happens to be called something else (Magooney). Did he ever play a different role anywhere in his 320 film career? That's a lot of films to be inept in.

There's charm here, I won't deny it, but there's also gibberish. Lots of it. Take one novelist, one credited scriptwriter and one uncredited, mix up in a really large bowl and, well leave mixed up. Let it all unravel for 70 minutes and throw in a bunch of names and events and whatnot every now and again to shove the plot in a different direction. Complete nonsense.

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