Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Downey Jr. Courts "Perry Mason"

Warner Bros. Pictures ("Sherlock Holmes") and Robert Downey Jr.'s production company Team Downey confirm they will develop author Erle Stanley Gardner's lawyer character "Perry Mason" as a feature film, with Downey Jr. eyeing the title role.

The new film will be set in the 1930's, featuring Mason's secretary 'Della Street', private investigator 'Paul Drake' and courtroom nemesis 'Hamilton Burger'.

Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey will produce with Robert Cort, along with David Gambino, Eric Hetzel and Joe Horacek executive producing with Susan Feiles and Chris Darling.

A defense attorney, 'Perry Mason' was featured in more than 80 'detective fiction' novels and short stories, most of which had a plot involving his client's murder trial. Typically, Mason was able to establish his client's innocence by implicating another character, who then confessed.

Author Gardner had over 135 million copies of his books in print in North America in 1969.

The character was also portrayed each weekday on a long-running radio series, followed by well-known depictions in film and TV including television's longest-running lawyer series, from 1957 to 1966 starring Raymond Burr, another series in 1973–1974 starring Monte Markham and Brett Somers and 30 made-for-TV movies filmed from 1985 to 1993.

In the first novel, "The Case Of The Velvet Claws" (1933), Mason described himself as:
"...a lawyer who has specialized in trial work, and in a lot of criminal work. I'm a specialist on getting people out of trouble. They come to me when they're in all sorts of trouble, and I work them out.

"If you look me up through some family lawyer or some corporation lawyer, he'll probably tell you that I'm a shyster. If you look me up through some chap in the District Attorney's office, he'll tell you that I'm a dangerous antagonist... but he doesn't know very much about me..."

Many of Gardner's 82 "Perry Mason' novels were first published in serial format in "The Saturday Evening Post".

Sixteen novels also appeared in the "Toronto Star Weekly" in condensed form.

All books were first published by William Morrow and Company, New York, as well as published simultaneously in Toronto.

Click the images to enlarge and Sneak Peek the first TV episode of "Perry Mason"...