Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935)

THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS (1935) is the third of four Perry Mason films starring Warren William.

This movie follows the previously reviewed THE CASE OF THE HOWLING DOG (1934) and THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE (1935). In terms of execution, I'd rank LUCKY LEGS second-best of these three films; THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE is the superior film of this trio.

The plot revolves around a scam in which contests are held in various cities to name the  local woman with the most beautiful legs. Patricia Ellis and Peggy Shannon are among the winners, but the prize money is never paid out...

The plot wanders on from there, with many possible suspects in a death, before building to a fairly amusing disclosure of "whodunit," which Mason makes during the midst of an examination with his doctor.

I thought the Mason character somewhat ill-served as this film began; he starts out the film passed out drunk on his office floor -- not the best look for Perry Mason! I far preferred the opening of CURIOUS BRIDE, in which he celebrated a win by cooking at his favorite restaurant. Fortunately he bounces back into form as the movie goes along.

It's a bit disconcerting to find a different actress playing Della Street in each film, but Genevieve Tobin is always fun to watch, and that's the case here. She's a big part of what makes the film watchable, and she has some terrific lines, including a couple risque bits of dialogue which seem to have slipped past the folks at the Production Code office. (Claire Dodd, who was Della in the second film, returns for William's fourth and final Mason movie.)

It's also a bit confusing that in the previous film, THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE, Olin Howland (aka Olin Howlin) had a significant supporting role as Mason's friend, Coroner Wilbur Strong, but here Howland plays Mason's doctor. Yet in the next film in the series he'll be back to playing Wilbur Strong! Either way, he's a plus in these films.

Also in the cast: Lyle Talbot, Porter Hall, Barton MacLane, Henry O'Neill, Allen Jenkins, and Mary Treen, Quite a cast of great faces there!

THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS was directed by Archie Mayo and filmed by Tony Gaudio. It runs 77 minutes.

The disc includes the trailer.

Like the previous Perry Mason films, THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS is part of the six-film Perry Mason Collection from the Warner Archive.

It's also shown from time to time on TCM, which has the trailer on its website.


Blogger Bill O said...

As I understand, Earl Stanley Gardner sold Perry's movie rights in hopes of countering films' "shyster lawyer" image. Instead he got another dissolute version, played by pre-code's most notorious actor. Gardner withdrew the rights, holding out for tv, and personally approving Raymond Burr as his ideal.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Warners contractee Craig Reynolds has a bit in this film, and if I'd been in power in the studio I would have cast him as Perry Mason, and stuck to him. Also, some consistency to the series would be appreciated, as you noted.

6:23 AM  

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