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Vintage Noir-Influenced TV


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Oh, boy, my brand new status is revealed by my dopily posting in the wrong category--  I originally posted in the "general discussion" category, but it was (unnoticed by me) under the Film Fest slot.    Apologies.

Starting again.   Noir-influenced TV for me conjures up black and white treasures like "Peter Gunn".   "The Defenders",  perhaps.   "The Fugitive"-- for sure, and it leads the genre, don't you think?   Would like to start with "Perry Mason".

Shadowy black and white photography--   check.

Fifties' L.A. ambiance--  check.

Enigmatic protagonist, not averse to skirting the edge of the law, but noble in intent--  check.

Things to love about "Perry"---     Burr's masterful performance,  his keeping us guessing and riveted, his grammar, his apartment, that "pecky cypress" office of his, the discreet "Della" of Barbara Hale and endearing "Paul" of William Hopper,  and I could go on.

Do you like early or late "Perry Mason"?    Favorite episodes or performers?    Would love your thoughts on anything "Perry".

Edited by lilypond
typed wrong term
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In your chosen category, don't forget Johnny Staccato with John Cassavetes.

Perry Mason- I've never had the impression this TV show was influenced by Film Noir, though I may be wrong. I can't say I was enough of a fan of the show to draw a conclusion. It seems to be half detective mystery, half courtroom drama.

Favorite performers? Didn't Dick Clark show up as a murderer in one episode? On the stand, Clark gets up and says something like "Yes, I killed him, and if I had the chance, I'd kill him again!!!"     This may be way off, it's been many years since I've seen the episode, but coming from someone like the kind, gentle Clark, what great fun. 😀

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49 minutes ago, lilypond said:

Oh, boy, my brand new status is revealed by my dopily posting in the wrong category--  I originally posted in the "general discussion" category, but it was (unnoticed by me) under the Film Fest slot.    Apologies.

Starting again.   Noir-influenced TV for me conjures up black and white treasures like "Peter Gunn".   "The Defenders",  perhaps.   "The Fugitive"-- for sure, and it leads the genre, don't you think?   Would like to start with "Perry Mason".

Shadowy black and white photography--   check.

Fifties' L.A. ambiance--  check.

Enigmatic protagonist, not averse to skirting the edge of the law, but noble in intent--  check.

Things to love about "Perry"---     Burr's masterful performance,  his keeping us guessing and riveted, his grammar, his apartment, that "pecky cypress" office of his, the discreet "Della" of Barbara Hale and endearing "Paul" of William Hopper,  and I could go on.

Do you like early or late "Perry Mason"?    Favorite episodes or performers?    Would love your thoughts on anything "Perry".

My wife and I watch at least 2 or 3 episodes of original Perry Mason each week. Like all the main characters in it, as well as many of the guests.  Have to run.  More comments later probably.

However, I do not consider PM or The Defenders as Noir or even TV Noir.  Peter Gunn maybe (watch it on Tubi).  The "shadowy black and white photography and LA ambiance" for PM are there because that is where they filmed and the methods used at the time.

Welcome to the forum and don't get discouraged when people may not agree with you - that's what we do.

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Welcome  LilyPond.  I'm a newbie too, although I've been a reader for several years.

Perry Mason evokes memories of me being home from school sick. Mom would let me watch  from the couch as I sipped from a warm mug filled with soup.

The episodes  are just as enjoyable to me now as they were then.

I look forward to reading your posts, as I know you enjoy classic movies as I do.

 

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3 hours ago, unwatchable said:

Perry Mason- I've never had the impression this TV show was influenced by Film Noir, though I may be wrong. I can't say I was enough of a fan of the show to draw a conclusion. It seems to be half detective mystery, half courtroom drama.

If Perry Mason was influenced by Film Noir it was a really light \ slight influence;   Mason isn't very gritty and there are few dark moments unlike the detective shows that were highly influenced by noir films of the 40s and  early 50s like Peter Gunn etc..

 

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MeTV still shows Perry Mason reruns on weeknights.  My wife and I would watch them every night for a few years.  I also watched it whenever possible as a kid.    I guess some might see some "Noir" connection maybe because the Mason character was created by  RAYMOND CHANDLER,  who worked on a few screenplays of popular Noir movies and a few of his stories were adapted to the screen as Noir movies.  But as far as "Noir" influenced TV---

What!  No mention of...

THE NAKED CITY( '58-'63)

THE DETECTIVES('59-'61)        Or

MANHUNT( '59-'61) ?

And;  WELCOME to LILY and READY.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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This is great, thank you all for responding.

Unwatchable, someone else told me about Johnny Staccato also, and it sounded terrific and very noir.   I like Cassavetes.

It could well have been D i c k Clark you are remembering!   They did love those overwrought, courtroom confessions right on the witness stand in that show...

Thanks so much for the welcome, ROY CRONIN!

Thanks, ELCID, I enjoy hearing different perceptions, am used to them over on the QVC boards where opposing views sometimes rage.   I suppose when I lumped these all in the noir category I was partly being a provocateur, partly half believing it.  In "Perry Mason",   I detect a certain post-War cynicism, and a novel, matter-of-fact acceptance of the unredeemable squalor of many of the secondary characters-- maybe that's what tilts the show noir -ward for me, not sure.

Great point, CHAYA BAT WOOF WOOF,  you are so right about some eps. of  "Moonlighting"!    I have not seen "Castle".   Can you describe?

Thank you READYTODANCE!   Those are great, warming associations indeed of your childhood and Perry on the TV!    Love that.  Glad to see you here as a fellow newbie!

JAMESJAZGUITAR,   I think you are largely right, see my answer to ELCID.  Still, there are noir embers in "Perry".    Upon reflection, I may be able to dredge up a few examples, of at least noir "style" there.  Like possibly in "The Case of the Capering Camera" or something like that....

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Oh, just saw your post, SEPIATONE!   What great examples.  "The Naked City",  yes!    Can you describe "The Detectives".       "Manhunt"......   Let's see, was that a European based series, with James Daly in it?    Was he a spy or something?   I could be way off,  but that name "Manhunt",  it seems I've read about that somewhere.  Do tell. 

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The old black & white Dragnet is more of a procedural, but heavily influenced by noir.  Even the music, that 4 note DUM DA DUM DUM was taken from Miklós Rózsa's score from The Killers.  I used to love watching it with my dad.  lol

 

 

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Exactly, KATIE _G !    I even thought of "Dragnet" but somehow neglected to mention that one.    Cool that you knew about the score from "The Killers".    That surface emotional flatness of Webb in Dragnet, is such a marker for that show.   So stylized, the guy must have micromanaged everything, ha.   To good effect.

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38 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

MeTV still shows Perry Mason reruns on weeknights.  My wife and I would watch them every night for a few years.  I also watched it whenever possible as a kid.    I guess some might see some "Noir" connection maybe because the Mason character was created by  RAYMOND CHANDLER,  who worked on a few screenplays of popular Noir movies and a few of his stories were adapted to the screen as Noir movies.  But as far as "Noir" influenced TV---

What!  No mention of...

THE NAKED CITY( '58-'63)

THE DETECTIVES('59-'61)        Or

MANHUNT( '59-'61) ?

And;  WELCOME to LILY and READY.  ;) 

Sepiatone

Huh?  Perry Mason was based on character created by Erle Stanley Gardner, who actually consulted to some extent on the show.  As I recall he was present during tests for the role of PM and advised Raymond Burr over William  Hopper (or maybe William Talman?).  Seemed Burr's appearance better reflected Gardner's view of PM.  In his books, PM and Paul Drake were both "darker" and more prone to nefarious activities.  Burr was required to lose weight for the role.

Gardner's books are available again from different sources.  I believe The American Bar Assoc. even published them a few years back at a reasonable price.   Read a couple to get a better understanding of the "real" PM.  Unlike Burr and William Warren versions.

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I'd agree with Peter Gunn, Dragnet, The Naked City (more of the first season's half hour shows than the one hour one s) A lot of Johnny Staccato episode s and not mentioned yet,  Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, had quite a few Noir episodes too. 

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1 minute ago, Cigarjoe cellph said:

I'd agree with Peter Gunn, The Naked City (more of the first season's half hour shows than the one hour one s) A lot of Johnny Staccato episode s and not mentioned yet,  Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, had quite a few Noir episodes too. 

"Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer"  Which one?  Darren McGavin or Stacey Keach?

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9 minutes ago, ElCid said:

Huh?  Perry Mason was based on character created by Erle Stanley Gardner, who actually consulted to some extent on the show.  As I recall he was present during tests for the role of PM and advised Raymond Burr over William  Hopper (or maybe William Talman?).  Seemed Burr's appearance better reflected Gardner's view of PM.  In his books, PM and Paul Drake were both "darker" and more prone to nefarious activities.  Burr was required to lose weight for the role.

Gardner's books are available again from different sources.  I believe The American Bar Assoc. even published them a few years back at a reasonable price.   Read a couple to get a better understanding of the "real" PM.  Unlike Burr and William Warren versions.

Yep.  Sorry, my mistake.  (we really DO need that "blush" emoticon here.  At least, I do!  ;) )

Sepiatone

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3 minutes ago, Cigarjoe cellph said:

Darren McGavin

 

I saw several episodes a few years back when one of the digital stations was carrying it.  Very entertaining, but I think McGavin was more humorous.  Of course they crowded it all into one 30 minute episode.

Incidentally my favorite character on PM is Paul Drake, who usually had to forego meals and dates to do things that Perry wanted immediately.  Also gave up fair amount of sleep.  But he drove very nice cars.  Hopper retired to Palm Springs after the series ended and died at 55.  His hair was white and had turned white while in service as a Navy frogman (predecessor to today's SEALS) during WW II.

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58 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

I guess some might see some "Noir" connection maybe because the Mason character was created by  RAYMOND CHANDLER, 

Uh,   Perry Mason's creator was Eric Stanley Gardner.      Chandler created the Marlowe detective character. 

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32 minutes ago, ElCid said:

I saw several episodes a few years back when one of the digital stations was carrying it.  Very entertaining, but I think McGavin was more humorous.  Of course they crowded it all into one 30 minute episode.

That's because Hammer was actually a composite of Mikey Spillane's Hammer character and Frank Kane's Johnny Liddell NYC detective character. Kane is credited as writer on a number of episodes.

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2 hours ago, lilypond said:

JAMESJAZGUITAR,   I think you are largely right, see my answer to ELCID.  Still, there are noir embers in "Perry".   

Since I love the term "noir embers" I'll concede (ha ha) - The  Mason T.V. show makes nods to noir-films from time to time.

I have read over 15 of the books and the Mason character is a lot more dark (e.g. willing to break the law), than Mason-on-TV.     In the books Drake is the one pushing-back on Mason to not-go-there.

 

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1 hour ago, rjbartrop said:

I m not sure if this counts as just a period piece or true noir, but how about the Ellery Queen Mysteries from 1975?

Ellery Queen is a period piece since it is set in Post WWII,  but I don't see much noir in the show.

 

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The early, thinner Mason is more enjoyable than the later, heavier one. There's something about

the late 1950s plots about adultery, "illegitimate" babies, pervs of various kinds, wicked businessmen

that seem more shocking than the same plots in the 1960s. It's like a whole exciting garbage dump

opened in an upscale neighborhood. Fun. Yes, Paul Drake was pretty cool for a middle aged guy.

I always get a kick out of the shtick where Perry has to practically hit Drake over the head whenever

Paul is entranced by a sexy dame, which he is all the time. I didn't realize that Connie Cerzon who

played Gertie was only in about 17 episodes. I thought maybe she was cut out when the show went

into syndication. PM is still on FETV four times a day, twice in the afternoon, twice at night. Of

course these are the edited versions.

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