Perry Mason (1957–1966)
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The Case of the Dangerous Dowager 

Compulsive gambler Sylvia Oxman meets with casino man Danny Barker to repay IOUs. Her husband Frank wishes to acquire them as evidence in a suit for custody of their son. Barker is killed with Sylvia's gun, and she is charged with murder.


Buzz Kulik


Erle Stanley Gardner (novel), Milton Krims (teleplay)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Raymond Burr ... Perry Mason
Barbara Hale ... Della Street
William Hopper ... Paul Drake
William Talman ... Hamilton Burger
Ray Collins ... Police Lt. Arthur Tragg
Robert Strauss ... Danny Barker
Patricia Cutts Patricia Cutts ... Sylvia Oxman
Kathryn Givney ... Matilda Benson
Barry Atwater ... Robert Benson
Michael Dante ... Arthur Manning
Gene Blakely Gene Blakely ... Frank Oxman
Leo Gordon ... Charles Duncan
Ellen Corby ... Old Lady Card Player
King Calder ... Dr. Ralph Caldwell
Frederick Worlock ... Judge (as Frederic Worlock)


Sylvia Oxman is desperate to retrieve the $7,500 in IOUs she signed over at the Clover Club poker room. She is convinced that her ex-husband Frank Oxman will try to get his hands on them and use them to have her labeled an unfit mother thereby getting custody of their son Peter. Poker room owner Danny Barker isn't going to make it easy for her, however, suggesting that he will sell the IOUs to the highest bidder asking $25,000. Sylvia's grandmother Matilda Benson and her son Robert call on Perry Mason to seek his assistance on Sylvia's behalf and Perry and Paul drake are soon investigating. Perry runs a bluff on Danny Barker to force him to turn over the IOUs at face value. Danny's partner Charles Duncan intervenes to make sure they get their money but nothing untoward takes place. Before long Danny Baker is found dead in his office, killed with Sylvia's gun. Despite the odds, Perry takes on her case and roots out the real killer. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

iou | poker game | blackmail | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery








Release Date:

9 May 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ellen Corby, who has a minor role here as "Old Lady Card Player," was one of Hollywood's busiest and most reliable character actresses. Among the more than 250 credits in her IMDb filmography are appearances opposite James Stewart (Vertigo) Don Knotts (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken) and Doris Day (The Glass Bottom Boat). She is best remembered for playing the venerable Grandma in the long-running CBS hit The Waltons, and several of that series' holiday-themed reunion movies. See more »


Perry knew before going to the casino that Barker had started a bidding war over Sylvia Oxman's IOU's. Barker would already have contacted Frank Oxman to take his bid, so Perry should not have tried a bluff in which Paul Drake impersonates Frank (or, at least, should have expressed his doubts over whether it would work). See more »


[first lines]
Arthur Manning: Sorry. Gotta be announced.
Sylvia Oxman: I-I have an appointment with Mr. Barker. My name is...
Arthur Manning: I know. Excuse me.
See more »


Version of Granny Get Your Gun (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

Strange motive
11 September 2014 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Patricia Cutts is Perry Mason's eventual client when she's accused of murdering Robert Strauss. Originally Raymond Burr is hired by her grandmother Katharine Givney an imperious old woman used to issuing orders. She finds out early that Burr is not going to be treated like her hired help early on.

Cutts owes some heavy gambling debts to a club owned by Strauss and Leo Gordon. Strauss is trying to make some extra money on his own by selling the debts to her estranged husband Gene Blakely. Blakely will use these in a custody battle he is having with Cutts over their son who as Givney's great grandson will be heir to a considerable fortune.

When Strauss winds up shot to death its Cutts that Ray Collins arrests for the crime. The usual nice mix of suspects is included in this Mason story. I will say that the motive for killing Strauss by the eventually discovered murderer is a strange one. And the murderer was one you wouldn't suspect for most of the story it was like our perpetrator was part of the wallpaper.

I couldn't quite buy into the characters here in Givney's family so this is not one of the better Perry Masons for me.

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