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The Case of the Lucky Legs

The Case of the Lucky Legs(1935)

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teaser The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935)

After Raymond Burr, Warren William is the actor most associated with the role of Perry Mason, the brilliant defense attorney/detective created by mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner in 1933. A year after Gardner published his first Perry Mason novel, Warner Bros. brought the character to the big screen in The Case of the Howling Dog (1934), a largely faithful adaptation of the fourth Mason book. The success of MGM's The Thin Man (1934) prompted Warners to change their tack with the remaining five entries in its Perry Mason series, lightening the overall tone and remaking the dogged Mason and his loyal secretary Della Street into witty bickerers with a fondness for cocktails, in the style of Thin Man protagonists Nick and Nora Charles. The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935) was William's third film as Mason, and begins with the character passed out drunk before settling into a murder plot centered around the embezzlement of funds from a beauty competition. Faithful to the source book, the film reaches its conclusion without ever going to trial but also changes the familiar character of Mason's investigator friend Paul Drake into the comic relief Spudsy Drake, played by Allen Jenkins. William would leave the series after The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936), with Mason played in one film each by Ricardo Cortez and Donald Woods. The Case of the Lucky Legs was dramatized for TV in a 1959 episode of the long-running CBS series starring Raymond Burr, with Mason solving the crime in court.

By Richard Harland Smith

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