Sinister Cinema: Perry Palms Pulps; or, Mason Manhandles Magazines

Another installment of the epic run of Pulps in the Movies. On Sale Every Wednesday. Brought to you by that renowned and eagle-eyed pulp expert John Locke.

In this Case of the Curious Lawyer, however, we’re easing over from actual movies into TV — though we’re sticking to moving images with pulps in them. Movies, TV, if you’re watching something on your phone, what’s the difference, right?

And now, John Locke with the argument for the defense:

Here’s Raymond Burr as the immortal lawyer Perry Mason in the original TV series. The episode was “The Case of the Bigamous Spouse,” airdate November 14, 1963 — in those halcyon days before the JFK assassination when killers had tangible motives, and before the Beatles ruined popular music for the Pat Boones of the world.

Mason was the creation of Erle Stanley Gardner, who started selling to the pulps in 1921. He was a regular in Black Mask from 1924-43, with his stories of Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook, and numerous other characters. Mason never appeared in Black Mask, though. A higher-class character, his exploits were published in hardbound from 1933 into the Sixties. Occasionally, he was serialized in Liberty or the Saturday Evening Post.

In this scene from “Bigamous Spouse,” Mason explores an abandoned dwelling looking for clues and finds a large quantity of old western pulps. Being a highly inquisitive but generally unhip officer of the court, he naturally flips the mags over to marvel at the pocket-watch ad on a back cover.

The visible cover is the August 2 1942 issue of Ranch Romances. The issue dates from a brief period when the logo was red-on-white versus its more common white-on-red.

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