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Film / The Case of the Curious Bride

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The Case of the Curious Bride is the fifth Perry Mason Mystery novel written by Erle Stanley Gardner, published in 1934. In 1935, it was adapted into a film directed by Michael Curtiz. It is the second of eight films made by Warner Bros., the first four of which all starred Warren William.

Perry, having just won a big case, is about to go off on a vacation to China when he's approached by Rhoda, an old girlfriend. Rhoda has recently married Carl Montaine, scion of the wealthy Montaine family. Soon after this happened she received a communication from Gregory Moxley, her first husband, who was believed to have died five years ago. Perry looks into it and soon discovers that while Moxley faked his death five years ago, he is freshly dead now, having been murdered in his apartment. Perry then takes it up on himself to get Rhoda off the hook.

Best remembered for being the American film debut of young Australian actor Errol Flynn. Flynn appears only briefly in a flashback scene as Gregory Moxley, murder victim. Soon after this picture Flynn rocketed to super-stardom with Captain Blood.


  • Adaptation Name Change: For some reason Paul Drake from the books is changed to "Spudsy" Drake. Possibly because he's a broad comic relief character as played by Allen Jenkins.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Ping, Perry's butler, an excruciatingly racist caricature who says stuff like "All right, me go."
  • Black Comedy: The morgue has a "WELCOME" mat out front.
  • The Case of...: The title, as with every Perry Mason book, movie, and TV show.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The opening has two ferry boat pilots commiserating about how they'd like to strangle their wives and might go ahead and do so if they could get Perry Mason for a lawyer.
  • Con Man: Apparently Moxley has a (seemingly overly complex) long con in which he marries women, fakes his death, and then pops up alive again demanding blackmail money after the women get married again.
  • Crocodile Tears: Spudsy helps Florabelle fake grief at the death of Moxley by dosing her with tear gas.
  • Faking the Dead: Five years in the backstory, Greg Moxley faked his own death, going so far as to put a cigar store wooden Indian in his coffin.
  • Girl Friday: Della Street as always, as Perry's hyper-competent office admin and secretary, whose job description also involves getting him out of bed when he's hung over, as well as issuing a stream of wisecracks. Della's obviously in love with him, of course.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Because Police Are Useless, it's Perry and not the cops who finds a matchbook from the Fremont Hotel in Moxley's apartment. He sends Spudsy to investigate, and Spudsy finds Oscar Pender, whose sister was one of Greg Moxley's marks.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Perry wakes up badly hungover after the party that went down on the night Moxley was murdered.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "I want to talk to him before those two dicks crash down on me." (Perry wants to interview someone before two detectives take him down to the station for a grilling.)
  • I Have This Friend: Rhoda lamely pretends that she's asking about a not-dead husband on behalf of a friend. Perry, who sees her twirling her wedding ring nervously, isn't fooled.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Spudsy and Perry are both exposed to tear gas as Spudsy explains his Crocodile Tears stunt with Florabelle. This sets up a comic scene in which they are both weeping copiously as Perry tells Spudsy to go investigate another lead.
  • Necro Cam: How Errol Flynn makes his brief appearance, as Carl confesses and describes how Moxley really died.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Of course. This example is even more amusing as Perry doesn't really have any evidence to tie Carl to the death of Gregory Moxley; he just badgers Carl until he confesses.
  • Running Gag: Perry's a "foodie" who is excessively devoted to haute cuisine. The opening has him selecting four crabs on the dock at Fisherman's Wharf, going to a fancy restaurant, and preparing them himself in the restaurant's kitchen. When he has to have a talk with Rhoda in the jail, he brings an exotic dinner of snails and fish. The last line has Della, contemplating the merits of Perry as a husband, saying "If only you couldn't cook."
  • Spinning Paper: Establishes in the opening scene that Perry has just won a big case.
  • Spousal Privilege: Carl Montaine and his father, who want to get rid of Rhoda and avoid an embarrassing scandal, want Carl Junior to testify against her. Perry then tries to prove that Greg Moxley was married to yet another woman before Rhoda, which would make her marriage to Carl valid, which would mean that Carl can't testify against her.
  • Summation Gathering: Another lift from The Thin Man, as Perry gathers everyone together to relate how the murder went down. Amazingly, there is no courtroom scene in this movie.
  • Title Drop: Perry says that sure, he'll help the "curious bride" find out if Gregory Moxley is really alive.