Thursday, May 21, 2015

Double Birthday Post!

I wanted to post this on one of the in-between days so it would seem more evenly balanced, but it didn’t work out that way. Ah, work. So, Happy Birthday to Raymond Burr and Lee Miller!

I still find it fascinating and intriguing that they were born the same year, only three days apart: Lee on the 18th, Raymond on the 21st. They had such a lasting connection through the years, with Lee serving as Raymond’s stand-in for both Perry and Ironside and appearing on-screen in both series as well as in the first Perry movie. They must have had a very special friendship. That’s an angle I wish we knew more about.

Apparently they must have met even before Perry, since Lee appeared in Raymond’s film Please Murder Me. I wonder if that was their first meeting or if they knew each other before that as well?

I watched The Candy Queen several weeks ago and somehow mistakenly got it in my head that Sergeant Brice was the one who snapped at the apartment manager about getting towels. I was surprised to think of it being him, as he’s such a quiet sort. Watching the episode again tonight, I saw that it wasn’t him, but the uniformed officer bending over Wanda. That made more sense.

Of course, had it been Brice, he would have just been worried about Wanda’s condition, as the other officer was. But I think out of all the main police characters, Brice is the only one who actually never so much as snapped or lost his temper. He’s always easy-going and observant, the quiet one in the background.

Naturally, now I’ve talked myself into the idea of a story where Brice is pushed to losing his temper. That would be a very frightening and heartbreaking thing, as it would take something extremely serious to make Brice snap, perhaps one of the other policemen being hurt right in front of him by a heartless criminal. Everything would be alright in the end, but what a ride to get there.

I haven’t forgotten my idea of wanting to do a story to show more Brice and Della interaction, either. And I think it would be fun to also have more Brice and Perry interaction. I love the scenes they have together, which are more plentiful in the later seasons. Brice is open with information where he can be and would probably say more if not for his superiors’ objections.

It’s interesting, too, to see them standing next to each other. You can definitely see the similarities in build and how easy it must have been for Lee to serve as Raymond’s stand-in. I wonder what scenes he was in instead of Raymond? I suppose that information is down somewhere or some fan has spent time observing things closely enough to tell when it’s Lee.

I also wonder what prompted them to decide to let the police lieutenants have a steady partner instead of continually having different ones. It’s certainly more logical for there to be a steady one. And I wonder how Lee got chosen? Perhaps because he was already on the payroll and they didn’t feel they could hire someone else at that point, and then his portrayal was so great that they left it at that, even if they could have hired someone else later.

It’s always nice to see Sergeant Brice accompany the lieutenant, whichever one it is. Even as they change, Brice is always there, a bit of lasting familiarity.

And of course, Perry is the perfect leading man for the series. Another great decision by Erle Stanley Gardner was to cast Raymond as Perry, especially after Raymond had actually auditioned for Hamilton’s part! It’s almost impossible for me to imagine the roles reversed, but I would really love to see footage from those auditions. I wish they had included those screen tests on the anniversary set.

I’ve delivered a great deal of praise for Raymond’s portrayal of Perry in past posts, so it’s a bit difficult to think of something new. But the series certainly would have been something much different without Raymond at the helm. I wonder if it even would have been anywhere as successful. There are many brilliant actors who could have attempted to carry the show, but Raymond was just so ideal as Perry. And not only that, but he helped to make the set such a happy place, including everyone and considering them part of the Perry family. Not every actor would have done that.

One of the things Richard mentions in his book is a failed pilot for a series that he and Raymond would have both appeared in. It’s a pity the pilot didn’t get picked up, although on the other hand, I believe he said it was right around the time that CBS was putting together the Perry series. If the pilot had been picked up, I wonder where that would have left Perry? Interesting, how things turn out.

So here’s to Raymond and Lee, and to their special friendship. They both made the series so memorable in their own, unique ways.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Richard Anderson's book!

For the past afternoon, I have done something I have wanted to do ever since the rumors started circling a couple of years ago.

I have delightedly devoured Richard’s book.

It’s a fascinating treasure trove of anecdotes from throughout Richard’s amazing life, covering early experiences, the golden days of Hollywood, and of course, the television series that Richard has become so famous for. As near as I can tell, it’s transcribed directly from the interviews with Alan Doshna. I can hear Richard’s voice in my mind, narrating every page like it’s a cozy fireside visit with friends. He’s every bit the warm, friendly, and charming person I’ve pictured him to be.

While I wish the book was longer and that the sections on especially Perry were more detailed, it’s a wonderful read that every classic movie and television buff should pick up. And there are some great little anecdotes about working on Perry. He has nothing but lovely things to say about everyone.

I don’t want to detail any of the contents of the book, as I want everyone to go out and get one for themselves, but there are a couple of little tidbits I want to point out. (Get the book to read the details.)

- Erle Stanley Gardner liked Richard’s portrayal of Steve Drumm. While I don’t agree with many of Mr. Gardner’s decisions, this is certainly one I’m thrilled about.

- Richard indicated that perhaps he would have liked to play Steve in the reunion movie. He was very pleased with the part he got, but it definitely sounded like it wasn’t his decision to not play Steve in it.

It’s really a treasure to have something available from one of the only surviving members of the steady Perry cast, not to mention, someone who experienced so much of Hollywood during the classic days. It’s really intriguing and exciting to hear about all the people he met and the ones he struck up friendships with. To top it off, there are many beautiful pictures from Richard’s personal collection! I love seeing shots of Richard through the years in some of his assorted and very unique roles.

The book is available here: as well as on Amazon. I wonder if Richard will be doing any book-signings or promotions? I wish he’d come to my area!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Summer of Me: Perry is safe, but schedule is underused

Well, MeTV’s summer information is in, and I must say, for drama fans who were hoping for something new on the schedule, this is probably the dullest Summer of Me they’ve had. They’re getting rid of a couple of their dramas to make way for some more comedies. The only real changes on the schedule are that Star Trek is leaving the weekday schedule to make way for a double dose of Emergency!, CHiPs is being booted in order for Gilligan’s Island and Hogan’s Heroes to move up on the schedule, and the evening comedy block is changing every weeknight. Most of the shows in the evening block are changing; most are comedies being switched out for other comedies, with the exception of The Twilight Zone, which they’re taking away again. 

Those are literally the only schedule changes I can see. Thankfully, nothing affects either showing of Perry. And interestingly, the Mystery Movie is staying. I wonder if they’ll possibly add some other detectives to the line-up, though.

I also wonder why they keep messing with The Twilight Zone. Not only is it a consistently popular series in general, but it’s made it to the final rounds of their Me Madness twice in a row now. Obviously people want it. So why on Earth not let them have it?

It would seem that MeTV doesn’t want to listen to their fanbase. It took them a year to get Star Trek on more than once a week, even though it won last year’s Me Madness. Now they’re already sending it packing to once a week again. Not to mention, they can’t even add one drama but instead have to let one of their existing shows get a two-hour block? And The Twilight Zone has bounced on and off their schedule so much in the last couple of years it’s dizzying.

The only other explanation I can think of for at least part of what they’re doing is that their Me Madness is not an accurate representation of the entire fanbase, which is what I’ve felt for a long time. If so, why even do it? Just as a gimmick, I suppose. I had thought maybe they were using it to figure out what the fans liked best. While they keep some of that in mind, it doesn’t seem like they keep all of it in mind.

I’m glad both Perry showings are staying right where they are. But I’m really disappointed that they’re not adding anything other than more comedies. Usually they try to have a mixture of genres represented. I look forward to their seasonal changes each time, hoping for returning favorites or new favorites. Usually there’s something I’m excited about. But I can’t find myself too chuffed about Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, and even more of The Brady Bunch than they already show. Also, they’re doing their evening comedy block as a two-hour thing. That’s four episodes of one single show every weeknight. I thought at least they’d do two episodes of one and two of another.

Overall, this seems like a very uncreative and wasteful way to run a summer schedule.

This isn’t the 300th blog post I expected to write, either. But we can certainly celebrate Perry’s continuing presence on MeTV. That’s an exciting and pleasing thing.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Telltale Talk Show Host

I’m really glad The Telltale Talk Show Host didn’t involve a scandal sheet program and lots of obscene comments. That was what I initially thought and worried it was. But instead, the titular character was nasty in other ways. Putting everybody on at night? Ugh!

I was surprised they had to continue sticking to the nighttime schedule even after he was killed. I thought his replacement would surely put things back in a logical order.

It was interesting that we saw the infamous meeting of the five radio personalities and the unknown person, presumably for the purpose of arranging a murder. Hence, it wasn’t really a surprise when it was revealed that was pretty much what was going on, only one of the five got itchy when the private detective didn’t do anything and decided to hire an assassin instead. I was slightly surprised at the one it was, but then again, since it seemed all along it had to be one of those five, it wasn’t a huge surprise.

The Judith person made my blood curdle. She clearly didn’t like the defendant, although I don’t recall what she had against her. According to one of the others, the defendant wasn’t popular at the station. Obviously not, since she wasn’t invited to the meeting and was instead framed for the murder.

The two obnoxious guys were . . . well, obnoxious and annoying. Their first stunt was downright disgusting. The second was somewhat amusing, since I assume what they were giving away were all those balloons they were blowing up. The other radio personalities I didn’t have much of an opinion on.

It was interesting that the frame-up against the defendant included a tape recording from the dead man, which the police figured had been crafted by the defendant to give herself an alibi, making it look like she was talking to the deceased on the phone right before the gunshots came. That plot was used in The Midnight Howler episode, with the talk show host really being guilty instead of being framed.

The female police officer certainly was cocky. It didn’t seem like her experience with that horrible hitman/pimp tempered her attitude any. When she first appeared, I wasn’t even sure she was really a policewoman. She gave off a serious vibe of someone who thinks she’s cool but isn’t. It was a very cheesy scene, from the bad dialogue to the sunglasses. I was relieved when that didn’t persist, although her attitude certainly did. Nevertheless, I didn’t want her killed, and the movie certainly threw in a deliberate scare by breaking for commercial right when it looked like she was dead.

Poor Ken; I felt really bad for him, feeling like her disappearance was all his fault. I’m glad she was alive for Ken’s sake as well as her own. And of course, I found it nice that it didn’t end up romantic yet again. That gets so old when the character is only there for one movie; you can’t really take it seriously.

I wonder why Della was suddenly so obsessed with odd-tasting teas. It was a slightly amusing subplot, although my stomach turned at the thought of some of the flavors.

Of course, the shippers love the ending, and it is sweet, with Della bringing Perry cocoa instead of more tea and he says he hasn’t had that since he was a boy and he’s been waiting a long time. It would seem that he means that in a double way, as he leans in and kisses her. Certainly the most blatantly shippery moment in any of the movies, I imagine.

This movie also boasts one of the creepiest opening scenes, with someone breaking into the defendant’s house, whispering her name in an eerie way, and then leaving that disgusting mannequin with a grotesque mask long enough for her to see it hanging there in a noose.

Also, may I say I liked that she was wearing pajamas. Modern things so often look for any way possible to be suggestive and it’s much more usual to see women in seductive lingerie than pajamas. If they want to wear things like that, that’s their business, but it gets eye-rolling when you know it’s only being put in something to make it suggestive. Conservative pajamas seemed to fit that character’s personality better than revealing lingerie would.

Overall, I did enjoy the movie, although it isn’t one of my top favorites. I wonder if there are any left now other than the four they made without Perry. I also wonder if they plan to show those. I don’t really have an interest in them, although I would like to see Della and Ken in them. I’m still appalled those movies were made at all. Greedy, greedy, unbelievable people, thinking they could keep Perry movies going without Perry! I wonder what Barbara Hale thought about it.

It seems that MeTV should be getting ready to announce their summer lineup soon. I’ll honestly be surprised if they keep the Mystery Movie feature during the summer. It would be nice if they would, but I wonder how many things are left for them to show among the series they’ve been rotating.

I wish they’d show some old television movies, like maybe the two movies that introduced The Bold Ones: The Lawyers or police movies like Crosscurrent or fun disaster movies like Skyway to Death. I remember seeing the latter on television once; it’s a really good movie with quite a few MeTV veterans in it.

In any case, it’s been another fun week of Perry movies. It’s been enjoyable watching them all, and hopefully I can get around to seeing the ones I either missed or have around here but haven’t ever watched yet.

Also, the next post after this will be the 300th post. I shall have to try to make it momentous!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal

The Skin-Deep Scandal is an interesting installment.

I’m not sure what Della’s doing fishing; she never liked it during the television series, as specifically mentioned in at least one episode (The Scarlet Scandal). She could have decided she liked it later on in life, or maybe she was bored and decided to give it a try and had beginner’s luck, but more likely, the writers didn’t know about her preferences and just thought they’d throw it in as a gag that she caught fish and the guys didn’t. It’s cliché, but admittedly amusing.

I see Ken got a haircut. I liked how pretty and long his hair was before. I’m a sucker for soft hair, and the more of it there is, the softer it is!

I’m glad that they didn’t extend the scene of Morgan Fairchild’s nasty character Alana hanging out with her lover. I wonder whether the scene really cut off there or if MeTV just made a cut there. It looked a little like an unnatural cut when it moved to the next scene. Either way, it was perfectly welcome.

It was immediately clear that Alana would be the murder victim as soon as she appeared and started being a jerk to everyone she came in contact with, but I was confused over who would be the defendant. Sometimes they make that just as clear, but this time it was murky until after she was dead and her poor husband was implicated.

I liked him; something about him reminded me of Joseph Campanella as he appears in the 1990s and 2000s. Poor guy, being married to such a nasty person and still loving her. He’s either really stupid or else he saw some decency in her. And he doesn’t seem stupid.

And for once we have a girl who does not become a girlfriend! P.I. Lauren Kent is one nasty cookie from the moment she meets Ken. It’s kind of fun to watch them try to work together, especially since there’s no romantic attraction. But she gets even nastier when she reveals to the audience that she’s not working alone, but for the murderer, and she’s willing to become an accessory by leading Ken out so he can be killed. She gets her just desserts when the murderer decides to kill her instead.

The murderer, by the way, is totally off his nut. It is very sad that he loved Alana so much and she just used him all over the place. But for him to decide she has to die, and still say he loves her in court, he can’t be a very sane man. He knows what love is? Um, yeah, I doubt it. I’d say in reality it’s the defendant who knows what love is.

I figured Alana’s age thing was just a fraud to get publicity, so I wasn’t too surprised when that was the case. But apparently, according to her chemist, the Ingenue formula really did work and just wasn’t ready. If they knew it worked, I have to wonder why they’d have to release a version that didn’t work. It seems more like the murderer just wasn’t making sense again.

Lieutenant Brock was fun in this movie. I like how congenial he’s become to Perry and Ken. To my remembrance, he did not start out that way when they first started using the character.

The ending of the movie just made me raise an eyebrow. Perry and Ken are so jealous of Della catching all the fish last time that they decide they’re going to tie her up and leave her like that all day long? To me that goes beyond a simple tease and is getting pretty nasty and mean. But then again, I’ve never liked teasing in general and I often think Perry’s (and Della’s) teases towards Paul in the series aren’t very nice. From Paul’s reactions, he seems to think so too.

Along those lines, I did finally see the missing epilogue to The Vanishing Victim episode, and it made me just as annoyed as I figured it would. Maybe Perry was trying to teach Paul to give some money to charity instead of spending it all on himself, but I really don’t think he had a right at all to just grab the check and give it to Steve when Paul just thought Perry was letting him have it. The only thing I liked about the scene was getting to see more Steve.

But anyway. This movie has some interesting scenes, and I liked that this time the token girl wasn’t a love interest, but overall I didn’t like it as much as I’ve liked some others.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Case of the Desperate Deception

I really, really loved The Desperate Deception.

I’ve mentioned before how much I tend to enjoy the topical episodes of the series, even though some people think they shouldn’t exist or that they’re too dated. This particular movie, with its plot of escaped war criminals in Paris and the defendant undergoing a court-martial, reminds me of three favorite Perry episodes: The Misguided Missile, The Renegade Refugee, and A Place Called Midnight. The court-martial proceedings are The Misguided Missile parallel, the war criminal mystery is reminiscent of The Renegade Refugee, and Perry in Europe reminds me of A Place Called Midnight.

The plot was so intense all the way through. It was sickening when that poor woman was run down at the beginning, but I was relieved it was done very tastefully and didn’t actually show the impact.

I rather quite loved the cloak-and-dagger goings-on. That sort of thing is always fun for me to see, being a fan of spy-related things. I also really enjoyed the court-martial proceedings, since I actually like the military episodes of the series.

And yikes, the guy being shot in the spa while the defendant is there talking to him . . . definitely brazen and unexpected!

The scene where the defendant’s mother flashes back to the horror of what happened to her and her family as a child was heart-rending. I wasn’t expecting to see any of what happened and figured it would just be told without any flashbacks.

I sort of wondered if it would turn out that the guy thought to be the worst monster of the death camp would end up not being him. It was a very cleverly done twist.

I was surprised and displeased that Della was barely in the movie and didn’t even get to go to Paris with Perry and Ken. I’m sure she would have loved it there and I thought for sure she’d be there. I wondered for most of the movie if Barbara Hale had some reason why she wasn’t able to be in the movie more often. But by the end, things made sense. It had to be the way it was for the sake of the plot and the final solution to the mystery.

I’ll admit I suspected that guy, as I usually do tend to suspect the friends these days. But when the Nazi war criminal was revealed to be the head of the supposed Nazi hunting organization and still very much alive, I figured he was the Big Bad.

The friend’s confession on the stand, especially his membership in the pro-Nazi organization, was very chilling. Standing up and yelling in German, his true colors revealed, was a powerful scene. I really loved counter-posing that with the defendant reuniting with his mother as he’s exonerated. I also loved that the tribunal allowed him to help his mother out of the courtroom after her painful testimony, even though he hadn’t yet been exonerated at that point.

And we had another girlfriend of the movie. I was really hoping this movie would be free of that trope since the defendant’s girlfriend seemed to be the main female presence. But then the daughter of the murdered woman was brought in and of course she had to be Ken’s newest interest.

I am coming to really love how the television series showed Paul’s interest in the ladies without making it a significant plot point in nearly every single episode.

Admittedly, these two had some interesting interaction. But it really rather annoyed me when she flipped out on Ken and that’s what caused the picture to be stolen. I understand why she was angry, and can appreciate the why, but still, it seemed to me that she should have already realized and not have gotten that upset that he felt he had to address every possible angle of the case. It’s not like they even knew each other that well; under the circumstances, it was quite an extreme reaction to him asking if she could have killed the guy she believed had killed her mother. Characters that flip out on the love interest without letting them explain and (either deliberately or inadvertently) cause disaster to happen because of it tend to irritate me. It’s a good thing that Perry had the foresight to make copies. And at least she didn’t stay mad long. It was kind of cute when she was immediately worried about Ken after the attack.

I think what I found the most interesting about her was that after living in France for so many years, she considered it her home and herself French. There aren’t a lot of those types of characters in Perry media. I actually think it would be interesting to read little stories of her experiences in France and how and why she came to love it so much.

I really liked the investigating officer who was accompanying Perry and Ken and was gathering evidence for the prosecution. He was friendly and nice and reminded me a lot of Captain McVey in The Misguided Missile.

Even though Della didn’t have a lot of screentime, what she did have was priceless. Her telephone conversations with Perry were gold. “Bad, bad, bad.” I loved how Perry blossomed on the phone with her and then was back to serious mode when he hung up.

Despite my general annoyance with another girlfriend of the movie subplot, I was amused by the movie’s end. Ken getting in the cab just wanting a goodbye kiss and the driver suddenly pealing out of there before Perry can get in was unexpected and amusing. Hopefully Ken realized what was happening after a moment and got the driver to turn around and go back for Perry. And meanwhile, we did get to hear Perry sing at least a couple of lines of a song.

Overall, this is probably one of my most favorites of the movies. It hearkened back to a lot of things I enjoyed in the series and was very intense and powerful. Really a well-done entry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Case of the Silenced Singer

So, The Silenced Singer.


This was a movie with a very interesting and unique twist, in that we saw many little flashbacks of the murder victim’s life after her death. The movie seemed to be trying to make the audience like the character, after the opening scenes depicted her as quite the diva and rather unlikable. The other characters, also, kept trying to put her on a pedestal even in the same breaths they were telling rotten things she’d done to them.

As Perry said, it was confusing and didn’t seem to make sense.

The resolution was most certainly unexpected. I was worried for a long time that it was going to be yet another case of the friend not really being a friend. Instead, the friend was very loyal to the end and considered herself a true friend.

The singer having an inoperable brain tumor that was causing her to act out, and her deciding to have an assassin kill her in order to keep her from hurting the people she loved due to the tumor . . . totally unexpected and quite heart-breaking. I never would have guessed something like that, although I did briefly wonder if it would indeed turn out that she had hired the killer for some reason. After seeing the twist used before in things, I sometimes keep it in mind as a possibility.

The assassin was certainly a repulsive sort. I think this is the first time I can remember one of the movies turning out a double body count, even though that’s something that happened now and then in the television series. I wonder why the poor niece wasn’t shown at all after her aunt was murdered.

I must say I was relieved that Dorothy and the Tinmen were not shown performing, after the description given of them.

And then we have the girlfriend of the movie formula, which gets old really fast. I am so glad the television series didn’t do something similar. This girl was kind of an interesting character, although being more on Ken’s side, I found it irritating when she hit him and was snippy with him. He did lie to her about who he was, but I don’t recall him ever giving her any real hope about her songs; he seemed to be careful to focus on the guy he was after. On the other hand, I did like that she believed in the guy and didn’t immediately fall for all the negative things being said about him, but I imagine she was interested in him more because of what she hoped he would do for her than actually being interested for him.

Della didn’t have much screentime here, either. But oh my goodness, how I adore the deep blue she was wearing!

Vanessa Williams really did a good job as the titular character. I can pretty much take her or leave her in general, but I do enjoy her singing when I’ve heard it. Her acting was very believable, showing all facets of the character. I was repulsed by her in the beginning and then confused and admittedly intrigued in the flashbacks.

I didn’t really know any of the other guest-stars in this one. I was very moved by the performance of the actress playing the assistant and best friend, though, especially the final revelation scene.

Overall, a nice movie with a really shocking and saddening twist. That poor husband. I felt sad for him in the final scene as he was trudging away, weighed down by everything that had just been revealed in court, and Perry and Della seemed to already be shifting gears to not think about him. It left me a little cold for them to be cheerfully talking about going somewhere fun while you could still see the husband walking away in the distance.

And of course, Ken was going to have a date with the girl, who finally stopped being snippy with him. I imagine she was never seen again, but there was probably another girlfriend of the movie in the next installment. I realize a lot of television series did similar things and had multiple oneshot girlfriends for the stars, but it’s still rather eye-rolling to see it pretty much every single time. Especially when the original Perry television series didn’t feel the need to do it.

Ah well. I enjoyed the movie anyway and look forward to tonight’s.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Case of the Sinister Spirit

A quick note: Richard Anderson’s book is finally out after a two-month delay! I am very excitedly waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive. It can be ordered here: There’s also a hardcover version, but that’s $10 more.

So last night MeTV aired an absolutely mangled copy of The Fatal Fetish that I have never seen them air before. It was so bad, it looked like one of Hallmark’s 43 minute jobs. They put back the scene where Larry Germaine barges in on Brady Duncan’s home, but they took away the scene where Hamilton watches Mignon’s dance, the bit where the nurse talks to Mrs. Duncan about magazines while Larry sneaks past her into Carina’s room, the scene where Paul goes to get Mignon from New Orleans, and it seems like there were some other cuts I’m not remembering at the moment. It was cringeworthy. Previously, MeTV has aired a copy that was almost complete, with only the scene of Larry barging in on Brady Duncan, and the bit of Hamilton’s introduction to what Perry was going to do in the courtroom, missing. I hope this other one isn’t going to be the copy they’ll air all the time now.

Following that, they aired The Sinister Spirit, one of the early Perry movies that was a lot of fun. Ghosts haunting a big old hotel? Yes, please!

David Hall was certainly one of the most sadistic and cruel characters we’ve seen in any Perry media. The things he did to those poor people, especially Robert Stack’s character! And then when the final revelation came in court, that the secretary was really David and the person who died had been the real secretary . . . wow. Not to mention that David really murdered him in cold blood, apparently mainly just because he wanted to kill “himself” off in the public eye and start over secretly. That was twisted. I suspected for some time that perhaps the “secretary” was the murderer, and that maybe the death had been an accident, so the revelation of the twist was a complete surprise to me.

The things being done to torture Susan and make her think the hotel was haunted were really freaky. Crying pictures have always been something that makes my skin crawl, and being chased by what looks like a character from a portrait would be absolutely terrifying. I think they could have made it look scarier, though, by not having the guy be solid. It could have been a ghostly hologram chasing her instead of a real person in costume. When Paul Jr. found the door behind the picture, it seemed a little hard to swallow that in reality Susan apparently saw the door open and the guy step out of there, even though it seemed to her that the guy came out of the picture.

I was slightly disappointed it was the handyman torturing her. I knew it wouldn’t be a real ghost, but I guess I thought it might be a more prominent character, one of the other guests. But it was very eerily done and enjoyable in any case. Also, the little bit where Paul Jr. removes a washer from the sink so he can call the guy to come fix it? Heh.

I loved the surreal opening of Perry wandering through a room and seeing the chandelier, which then descended. Perry promptly woke up from a nightmare induced by the book he was reading, in which that very thing happened. I think that may be about the only time a Perry character is seen having a nightmare, let alone one influenced by the last reality they were exposed to. And the dream almost seems to have been an eerie warning in some way, since the scene played out for real when Perry discovered the actual room in the hotel.

Della didn’t really have much screentime, which was disappointing. But she got to do some very cool stuff while she was there, especially saving Perry from the falling chandelier by seeing it start to come down and calling to him just in time. She and Perry also share a nice scene late in the movie when something she does inadvertently tips Perry off to the solution of the crime, just like what happens several times in the television series.

As usual, Paul Jr. managed to do something stupid. When he arrived and saw a frightened girl fleeing down the hall, why didn’t he call out to her instead of walking slowly and silently after her? He certainly could have saved a lot of headache for himself. On the up side, I liked how protective he was of Susan and how upset he was by Perry picking her apart on the witness stand when he hadn’t realized Perry was going to do that.

It was great seeing Michael Reston prosecute, as always, and as an Untouchables fan, a lot of fun seeing Robert Stack as the defendant. I did think maybe there should have been a little more about the character’s wife Carol, an earlier scene with her or something, but I loved the little bit at the end where Perry had called her and she came down to reunite with her husband at the end of the hearing.

It was really nice to have a change of scenery from the usual Perry movies. I loved the creepy old setting of the hotel and all the secret passageways and mysterious things inside them. And it was nice, for once, not to have the usual subplot of Paul Jr. chasing an uncooperative witness. That gets a little monotonous when it happens over and over. It seemed to happen more frequently in the movies than it did on the series.

Perry gave off an Ironside vibe at the end, when he teases Paul Jr. about the picture talking, but that was definitely an amusing close.

Overall, it’s definitely one of the movies I’ve enjoyed the most.