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The Case of the Black Cat

The Case of the Black Cat(1936)

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teaser The Case of the Black Cat (1936)

With its twisted tale, complicated by three murders and a missing cat, fans consider this film the best of Warner Bros.' six Perry Mason films. That's rather surprising considering Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote the original Mason books, didn't approve of Ricardo Cortez's casting as the lawyer-sleuth and was quite vocal about it. Warner's had to find a new Mason after Warren William, who had starred in the first four features, left the studio. Cortez had started in films as a Latin lover, groomed by Paramount as a threat to Rudolph Valentino, even though Cortez was actually a New Yorker of Austrian descent. At least he had some experience sleuthing, having played Sam Spade in the first film version of The Maltese Falcon (1931). Of special interest is the appearance of Jane Bryan, in her film debut, as a disinherited granddaughter among the suspects. Bryan would become one of Warner Bros.' most accomplished young actresses, working with mentor Bette Davis in films like Marked Woman (1937) and The Old Maid (1939) before retiring from acting to marry executive Justin Dart in 1939. Cortez and leading lady June Travis, who plays Della Street, also left acting within a few years, the former becoming a stock broker and the latter focusing on married life.

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