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Vintage Noir-Influenced TV


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Wow, I am bowled over by the activity here at TCM Forums, it is so nice to have so many knowledgeable people coming in from all angles!

ELCID,  I like Paul too.  I love the long-suffering air he has when he's listing all the peccadilloes of various people he's been investigating for Perry,  his unshockable world-weary air.   I knew Hopper died young and wondered if it had to do with smoking in some way.   Apparently, when they were interviewing Hopper for the show, he blurted out to Gail Patrick (or some other producer)  "I know you can't stand my mother!"  (Hedda Hopper).    I thought that was endearing, and it does remind me of the sort of innocent simplicity of "Paul Drake", his child-like quality.

JAMESJAZGUITAR,  I've only started one of the novels, the "Velvet Claws" one.   Perry is quite different in that.  Have to keep remembering it was written in the Thirties.  Interestingly, I read that Erle Stanley Gardner refused to do a TV version until Gail Patrick prevailed upon him, seemingly trusted her.  I think she was married to his literary agent.

VAUTRIN,  interesting you say that.  I would have said I like the early episodes, which to me seemed more improvisational,  didn't have quite the polish of the later ones. But I see your point about a certain sordid "garbage dump" (good description!)  aura to later plots.

I just keep wondering how Raymond Burr conceived that character, gave it the layers that he did.  I love that he played him so "circumspect",  that he rationed his smiles.  You almost never see a full on grin, except occasionally in those little end pieces where he and Della and Paul dissect the case or just cut up for comic relief.    

 

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4 hours ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

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.

 

I haven't seen it, but from what I read the new PM series on HBO had a much darker tone, and a more morally ambiguous Mason, and set it back in the early 1930s, a darker/grittier time in US history than the post-war 50s and 60s, most would say.  I suppose they're closer to the tone found in the books.

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15 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

I haven't seen it, but from what I read the new PM series on HBO had a much darker tone, and a more morally ambiguous Mason, and set it back in the early 1930s, a darker/grittier time in US history than the post-war 50s and 60s, most would say.  I suppose they're closer to the tone found in the books.

I haven't see the new PM series but there is a thread at this forum about it and those that watched it said it had a much darker tone and was thus more "true" to the characters in the books.   Another thing in the book is that Tragg  and Perry really respect each other and will work together to find the actual criminal(s).   

In the books the cop that hates Perry and is willing to so shady things to try to trap him is Sergeant Holcomb who was only featured twice in the PM T.V. show.   (thus removing a dark area of the books,  but I assume this was done because such a portrayal of a Cop on T.V. would have caused a major PR issue for the network,   in those two T.V. episodes Holcomb is just incompetent and stupid not corrupt \ bending the law).

 

 

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Ray Collins was in the credits long after he left the series.  Supposedly this was to keep his SAG medical benefits in place.  He was quite elderly to be a police officer even when the series began.  Barbara Hale was the last of the main cast to pass on.  She was in a couple of The Falcon movies and did performed quite well.  Erle Stanley Gardner played the judge in the final episode.

While Connie Cezon moved on, Mason's whole office moved out.  In the beginning it was a real firm with associates and so forth.  They gradually got rid of them.  Did have one actor who came on for a few episodes as a law student working for him.

I think I picked this up here, but Lee Miller who played Sgt. Brice was in the first episode and last one - 57 episodes in all.

One of the impressive things (sort of) is the number of blonde women in the shows, especially early on.  In some episodes I think Della was the only non-blonde female.

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2 minutes ago, ElCid said:

One of the impressive things (sort of) is the number of blonde women in the shows, especially early on.  In some episodes I think Della was the only non-blonde female.

True;   And Drake struck out with each and every one.    

Related to The Falcon,   Martha Vickers was included in the 1959 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Jaded Joker", in which she played Sheila Hayes.  

This was the second to the last work she did prior to retiring.    

But for me the real star is Executive Producer Gail Patrick - From Godfrey and being a less than favorite wife,  to being a main reason there was even a Mason T.V. show.

Gail Patrick and William Powell in My Man Godfrey. | Fashion film, Formal  dresses long, Black and white models

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A few Perry Mason episodes were influenced by noir.  One that was on a couple nights ago on FETV had Peter Breck as a recovering alcoholic who sees his "dead" wife at a hotel late one night. Turns out she was mixed up in a robbery investigation and winds up dead for real.  It was all very dark with lots of nighttime shots, and very convoluted with several people not who they pretended to be.

Back about the same time David Jannsen had a series called "Richard Diamond -- Private Detective" which was very much noir as I recall.  It's most famous for having a sexy-voiced receptionist named Sam whose face was never seen, just her terrific legs.  For the first year or so it was Mary Tyler Moore in her first regular TV series acting job.

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ELCID,  Lt. Tragg was one who grew on me over time.  At first, I felt adversarial to him for trying to foil Perry--  but increasingly frail Ray Collins impresses me -- there was something so 'game' about him-- plucky, really.  And his humor.  Something I don't really get from Hamilton Berger, but could be wrong about that. 

JAMESJAZGUITAR,  I wonder if cool, elegant Gail Patrick was the template at least partly for "Della"?    Apparently she talked her friend Barbara Hale into the role.  I don't know if you've seen those youtube fragments of the screen tests for the various roles on "Perry".   In a few of them, other actresses were assaying the Della part, and they were all wrong.  More vamp-like and "obvious".   Barbara Hale's Della was shrewd, keenly observant and the soul of discretion, while still being alluring.

TERRYE51,  I totally agree about that Peter Breck episode, you are right about the noirish feeling.  Really like that one.

I've seen so many of the Perry Mason episodes, over the years, but in a jumble.  Now I'm recording select ones from both METV and FETV, and trying to see them in a more organized, chronological fashion.

TWINS,   Delighted to see you here!!   You are so right about the noir aspects of one of our faves, "Route 66".   I was even thinking of that later, after I posted.  Such an interesting show-- some of it was light-hearted, and some quite downbeat.   Well -written, and with that memorable jazzy opening theme...   

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Checkmate (Doug McClure)  had a noir touch in some stories. The crime stories in Boris Karloff's Thriller also had a noir feel. Most people wbo recall the show think of the horror episodes of Thriller.

The Fugitive. M Squad with Lee Marvin. T.H.E. Cat with Robert Loggia as a circus performer turned bodyguard, unfortunately a lost show.

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9 hours ago, TerryE51 said:

A few Perry Mason episodes were influenced by noir.  One that was on a couple nights ago on FETV had Peter Breck as a recovering alcoholic who sees his "dead" wife at a hotel late one night. Turns out she was mixed up in a robbery investigation and winds up dead for real.  It was all very dark with lots of nighttime shots, and very convoluted with several people not who they pretended to be.

Back about the same time David Jannsen had a series called "Richard Diamond -- Private Detective" which was very much noir as I recall.  It's most famous for having a sexy-voiced receptionist named Sam whose face was never seen, just her terrific legs.  For the first year or so it was Mary Tyler Moore in her first regular TV series acting job.

I remember the Richard Diamond series, but barely.  I also recall the scenes with MTM's legs.  Unfortunately I haven't found it being shown on TV anywhere that I have access to.

7 hours ago, twins said:

Hi Lilypond -  I think some episodes of Route 66 could be considered in the noir category, even though it was nothing like Perry Mason,

Most Route 66 episodes are more Noir than Perry Mason in my opinion.  The first episode is particularly dark.  Many think of Route 66 as two guys on the road having an adventure.  While it may be that, most of the episodes were very serious and usually the featured characters were someone other than Todd or Buz or Linc.

We ended up purchasing each PM DVD set as they came out.  It definitely makes for better viewing seeing them in order and without commercials.  Now they have all of them in one set.

There are some episodes which were later revised for new episodes.

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Speaking of Erle Stanley Gardner, I have gotten into reading the Cool and Lam series by Gardner writing as A.A. Fair.   Bertha Cool and Donald Lam own a detective agency in LA; Cool runs it and Lam does all the outside work.  Neither, particularly Lam, is above bending the rules and even breaking a few.  Series starts in 30's, but one I am reading now was copyrighted in 1960 and I believe set then.  Gardner was still writing at that point and "consulting" on PM

Hard Case Crime is releasing some of them and they are available at multiple locations. 

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7 hours ago, lilypond said:

TWINS,   Delighted to see you here!!   You are so right about the noir aspects of one of our faves, "Route 66".   I was even thinking of that later, after I posted.  Such an interesting show-- some of it was light-hearted, and some quite downbeat.   Well -written, and with that memorable jazzy opening theme...   

I loved Route 66. At the time one of my favorite shows. A few years ago, Rt 66 was being re-run and I found that I still loved the show. Great writing, locations, acting and the theme song was and still is wonderful. Wish the show was in re-run again.

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56 minutes ago, lavenderblue19 said:

I loved Route 66. At the time one of my favorite shows. A few years ago, Rt 66 was being re-run and I found that I still loved the show. Great writing, locations, acting and the theme song was and still is wonderful. Wish the show was in re-run again.

I purchased the DVD sets several years ago.  Ironically the company making them went our of business or something after the third season and was a while before someone else made season four.  Now all four seasons are available as a set - for now.  I have learned that the availability of DVD's of old TV shows and old movies is never assured.

It is on Tubi streaming - free with commercials just like the original.

Also got a CD with the theme song by Nelson Riddle.  However, the quality is not as good as I had hoped.   I much prefer Riddle's theme song to the Get Your Kicks on Route 66 song.  Riddle's really fits in with the theme of moving on the open road.

There are about 10 or 15 episodes that I watch frequently - the lighter ones mostly.

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21 hours ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

Uh,   Perry Mason's creator was Eric Stanley Gardner.     

Yep.  Already admitted and apologized for my gaffe some 23 -4 hours ago.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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JAMESELLIOT,  that is one eclectic list!   T.H.E. Cat,  a lost series.  I wonder what happened to it.  Love Robert Loggia, and he WAS lithe as a cat.   Oh, that reminds me of "Run for Your Life" a series that both TWINS and I are mad for.   Ben Gazzara, just tops in that.  But the "lost series" idea made me think of RFYL,  because I'm not sure if it's even available as a DVD.   Years ago I checked, and maybe there was a suspect, pirated-type tape available?   Not sure.

LAVENDERBLUE19,   "Route 66"  may very well come up again.  I think FETV has run it a couple of times, right? 

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The episode of PERRY MASON where Dick Clark plays a murderer was the last episode of 'PM'.  I remember that episode.  In it, "raw footage" helped trip up Dick Clark when his briefcase was visible.   It originally aired in May 1966.  

I dig PETER GUNN.  Very noir-y and moody.  It airs early Monday mornings on MeTv -- from 4 AM to 5 AM.  Two episodes.  I try to be awake to watch them as I don't have a means of recording stuff to watch later.  

I watched "Peter Gunn" early Monday and noted James Lanphier was a guest.  I looked him up on the IMDb as I'd not seen him in anything even remotely recent and found out why:  James Lanphier died in 1969 at only 48.

 

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There are all kinds of arcane Perry Mason tidbits, which you all are demonstrating with your great stories.  One that I picked up, don't know if it was Wiki or not (Wiki goes all out on Perry Mason, interestingly.  Often Wikipedia annoys me, but they sure plumbed Perry Mason.)   Some alert devotee of the show noticed over time that the same set of china coffee cups was used over and over.   The thing was, they surfaced in all different places-- sometimes in Perry's office, or maybe his seldom-seen apartment.  But totally separate characters had the identical coffee service in their houses!   They were distinctive,  nice china cups and saucers with a broad band of color,  making them instantly identifiable from setting to setting.

I love stuff like that, and look for them now whenever Della is pouring coffee for Paul and Perry, or some random client hauls them out for tea time...

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PETER GUNN is always fun; I just wish it was aired at a a more reasonable hour.   

One thing I've noted -- there's at least 3 episodes of Peter Gunn that use the same cabin in the woods as part of the plotline to the show.  

Some episodes of I've seen of MANNIX and CANNON could be considered "noirish".  The series's as a whole are not "noir-y", but some episodes  run that way.  

Like the 1971 CANNON ep. "No Pockets In A Shroud". 

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1 minute ago, Mr. Gorman said:

PETER GUNN is always fun; I just wish it was aired at a a more reasonable hour.   

One thing I've noted -- there's at least 3 episodes of Peter Gunn that use the same cabin in the woods as part of the plotline to the show.  

Some episodes of I've seen of MANNIX and CANNON could be considered "noirish".  The series's as a whole are not "noir-y", but some episodes  run that way.  

Like the 1971 CANNON ep. "No Pockets In A Shroud". 

Peter Gunn is on Tubi streaming and possibly others.

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26 minutes ago, Mr. Gorman said:

The episode of PERRY MASON where Dick Clark plays a murderer was the last episode of 'PM'.  I remember that episode.  In it, "raw footage" helped trip up Dick Clark when his briefcase was visible.   It originally aired in May 1966. 

I wish I could find the episode online, or at least that scene where Clark ("Leif Early"? LOL) confesses on the stand.

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Lily, the  fact that the early episodes are kind of rough-edged was what made them more entertaining to me, not that the later

ones weren't interesting also. I looked up Connie Cezon's IMBD page and most of her 17 appearances were in the first couple

of seasons. I don't recall Mason having any law partners. He did take that young guy under his wing for a while. I think he was

introduced making out with a sexy babe in his relative's law office. After that, as far as pleasure went, it was all down hill for Dave.

 

FETV ran Peter Gunn for years. It seemed it would never end, but it finally did. I had never seen that program before then. It was

pretty decent. Gunn had that late 1950s jazz and beatnik vibe down pat. A lot of artsy, bohemians came into Petey's orbit.

Mannix has been on FETV for a couple of weeks. Not very noirish but enjoyable. Last night Joe tackled a group of neo-Nazis,

who just didn't have that original Nazi je  ne sais quoi.  A pretty sad lot.

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