One of the biggest television movie franchises of the 1980s was the Perry Mason series. With six different movies released between 1985 and 1987, there was quite a bit to enjoy, and our friends out at CBS Video sent over six of said Perry Mason adventures in “Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 1.”
“Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 1” features, as noted previous, six full length Perry Mason stories for a combined run time of nine hours, 31 minutes. First up is “Perry Mason Returns,” in which Mason leaves his legal career and instead takes up another kind of legal career, this time as judge. But Judge Mason quickly finds his legal skills in need once more to defend his own former secretary Della Street.
Backed up by Paul Drake Jr., the son of the investigator that helped Mason on so many cases previously, it’s going to take all their skill to free Della. The trio will carry on into “The Case of the Notorious Nun,” which is actually fairly self-explanatory, a celebrity murder trial in “The Case of the Shooting Star,” a slice of Perry Mason’s own past returning in “The Case of the Lost Love,” a horror writer’s last chapter in “The Case of the Sinister Spirit” and finally, “The Case of the Murdered Madam” in which a former madam finds herself holding incriminating information…and subsequently killed for it.
The great thing about a piece like this is that you have plenty of options. There are six entire movies here; watch one a month, fill up a weekend, shotgun them all at once. It’s hard not to enjoy that kind of versatility. That and this one brings back great memories for me; my grandfather enjoyed Perry Mason movies, and seeing one of his favorites in full action is exciting enough. Better yet, there will even be some occasional guest stars in here for added fun–“The Case of the Sinister Spirit” boasts both Robert Stack and Dwight “Howlin’ Mad Reg Barkley” Schultz–and some stretches where Perry Mason doesn’t even get involved.
I don’t know what it is; I’ve seen made-for-TV movies for some time, and these–despite being nearly 30 years old–have still held up pretty well. They don’t depend on effects or graphics, but rather on sound acting and a detailed, well-crafted plotline. That’s somewhat refreshing, really, and makes this one a real piece to watch. There will be sequences in court, and sequences out of court, and the sheer variety contributes to an overall environment of sustained interest that will do well throughout the proceedings.
The only special features around here, sadly, involve just English subtitles. Which as special features go isn’t bad by half, but you could easily find yourself wishing for previews or something else to go with it.
The end result here is that “Perry Mason Movie Collection Volume 1″ really isn’t half bad. If one movie doesn’t appeal, grab any of the other five and keep trying until one resonates. If one doesn’t, well, that’s entirely possible. But thankfully, it should be pretty unlikely that something won’t hit thanks to the sheer range of material available.