After the death of her husband and partner, Joe Doyle, Constant Doyle takes on a case involving a young man who knew her husband. Constant asks for Perry's help and he suggests she hire the Paul Drake Detective agency to aid in the case.
When Cal Leonard gets into trouble, he tries to get in touch with a lawyer he once met, Joseph Doyle, but learns that the man has died. His wife and law partner, Constant Doyle, pays him a visit in jail but he's not keen on having her represent him. Constant, on a whim, does provide bail money for Cal. Cal was caught jumping the fence at the Otis Instrument Co, owned by Lawrence Otis, who once used Doyle and Doyle as a law firm. However, with the death of Joe, several clients have left the firm. It turns out that Cal's father once worked for Otis as an engineer but was an unreliable alcoholic. His cousin, Steve Arthur, still works there but is somehow making large deposits to his bank account. Cal is convinced that Otis has stolen some of his father's ideas on equipment miniaturization but when Steve Arthur is found dead, Cal is charged with murder. With Perry Mason in the hospital, Constant decides to represent him herself. Constant Doyle learns Cal has a special talent she uses in ...Written by
3 superb actors make below-par PM episode a must-see!
As a child in the 1950s, I avoided watching the Perry Mason series because I found courtroom dramas boring, Now, decades later, and thanks to MeTV (which shows two episodes every weekday), Perry Mason is my favorite show on TV. Why? For one thing, the quality of the writing, direction and acting of the series regulars is first-rate. And while all 271 episodes basically follow the same format (the first-half hour sets up the whodunit and introduces a plentitude of characters who may or may not have 'dunit', the second-half resolves each generally baffling mystery in the courtroom via the dynamic warfare between the d.a. handling the case and the defense lawyer Perry Mason, whose clients are ALWAYS innocent). Most intriguing of all to me is the line-up of each episode's guest stars, usually a well-chosen mixture of fading stars of Hollywood's golden past, the finest of filmdom's 'character' actors and actresses, and the good-looking young male and gorgeous female newcomers of that particular era when the episode was filmed, only a few of whom were destined for future stardom. And while "The Case of Constance Doyle" may be one of the series' more uninspired hours (its confusing plot, lack of any genuine suspense and only very brief appearance of Perry Mason himself have been sufficiently covered by the other commentators), the outstanding performances of a trio of memorable actors at various stages of their careers make it an example of spellbinding TV that shouldn't be missed (hence, my highest rating of 10). First, of course, is the formidable Bette Davis (age 54,since the episode's early January 1963 telecast indicates it was filmed at the end of 1962). Fresh off the totally unexpected, huge success of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" the previous year, Ms. Davis got the career boost back into the A-list she hadn't enjoyed since 1950 and extended her expiration date by another 15 years. Via her delightfully candid, good-humored appearances on TV talk shows, Ms. Davis found herself beloved by a brand-new young audience (of the hip collegiate crowd) and gives a lovely, intelligent performance as a female lawyer Constant Doyle that remains one of her best--restrained, warm-hearted, sharp-tongued and witty simultaneously. Her newfound glow required a new kind of leading man--and she certainly got one in a handsome, strikingly talented 22-year-old newcomer Michael Parks. Already being promoted as "the new James Dean" and sneeringly put down by another character in the show as a "juvenile delinquent", Parks was neither and he hit it off so beautifully with his co-star that Ms. Davis happily told the press that he was "the finest young actor in America". Another person here commented that he found it cringeworthy that Ms. Davis acted like what today is called a "cougar" by the way she often touched one of Parks' broad shoulders or gave him (her client) $20 after tenderly brushing his hair across his forehead and ordering him to "get a haircut". In the final scene, she even playfully swats his behind. Please! This was 1963. And. Ms. Davis' maternal affection for this misjudged young fellow, and his admission that he had once met her late husband provided one of the clues needed for her to prove his innocence. It was obvious that Michael Parks was headed for movie & TV superstardom and, a few years later, when his casting as Adam in the much-hyped "The Bible" provided moviegoers with the first glimpse of male nudity since Hollywood's pre-code days (his impressive physique led to even more favorable newspaper headlines), the now 28-year-old was confirmed as the most popular actor of the time with his casting as the motorcycle-riding hero of the smash-hit TV series "And Then Came Bronson". But as the Vietnam War raged on, Parks objected to the show's producers' intention to make the show much more violent and stood his ground. As a result, the show was cancelled, Parks was fired on the grounds that he was "difficult" to work with, and by his 30th birthday, he found himself broke, washed-up and, worst of all, blackballed. (Check out his IMDb page to find out how he is faring today.) The third actress to find her participation in this PM episode a mixed blessing is Peggy Ann Garner. Probably the most talented and natural child actor of the 1940s, Ms. Garner was honored with a special miniature Oscar for her incandescent portrayal of the child of a kind, loving, but alcoholic father through whose eyes we see "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", followed by her moneymaking and still-delightful teenage comedies as "Junior Miss" and "Home Sweet Homicide". 15 years later, Ms. Garner had not made the kind of transition from child to young adult sweetheart that her studio 20th Century-Fox had hoped for and, at 30, was reduced to playing guest roles of diminishing quality such as her one in "Constant Doyle". Nevertheless, she imbues her one scene in the courtroom as a ravaged alcoholic with heartbreaking honesty. A decade later, she was dead. The above comments are the reasons I believe the current revival of classic and not-so-classic TV shows of the past so popular on such cable channels as MeTV and Antenna and GetTV. Even if the particular episode of a series you're watching is not one of the best, stay tuned anyway, and watch the end credits. If there's an actor listed in the credits who may not be one of the stars, but perhaps looks vaguely familiar or captures your attention at first glance, jot down the name and look the person up on the IMDb website and see what's become of them. And cross your fingers while you're at it.
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