Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mary Astor Blogathon: The Case of the Howling Dog (1934). First time the character Perry Mason ever appeared on film.

This post is my contribution to the Mary Astor Blogathon, sponsored by Tales of the Easily Distracted, and Silver Screenings. Please take a look at the other blog contributions participating in this Blogathon.

Once again Mary Astor, landed the part of the woman with the shady past in the film, The Case of the Howling Dog(1934). A mystery directed by Alan Crosland. Cast: Warren William and Mary Astor. This was the first in a series of films in which William played Perry Mason.

Arthur Cartwright, worried that the howling dog next door, is going to draw attention to a murder that has just been commented. He goes to see the lawyer Perry Mason, to write up a will leaving his money to the wife of Clinton Foley, the dog's owner. He tells him Evelyn, the woman now living with Foley is really his wife.

Perry investigates and sees that Foley is building an addition to his garage. While Perry talks to Foley he receives a note informing him that Evelyn has run away with Cartwright.

Perry's men investigate and learn that Evelyn was married to Cartwright and Foley took her away from him, leaving his own wife, Bessie Foley, behind. While he is watching the Foley house, one of Perry's men sees Lucy Benton, Foley's housekeeper, drive away.

Later, a cab arrives with Bessie Foley. She asks the driver to go next door and tell Cartwright that she is there. In the house.. she and Foley get into an argument and two shots are fired, killing Foley and the dog.

Perry arrives soon after Bessie leaves and discovers the body. He finds Bessie at the hotel, where Bessie admits that Foley was a womanizer, but she denies killing him. Bessie, is the prime suspect and Perry advises her to say nothing to the police.

During the trial, Perry Mason claims that both Cartwright and Evelyn are dead and buried under the foundation of Foley's garage. He proves that, with her left hand, Lucy wrote the letters, to make it look like Evelyn wrote them. He also claims that the dog never would have attacked Bessie, because the dog loved her. Will Perry be able prove that Foley killed Cartwright and Evelyn... or did he?

You have to follow the story very carefully, in the beginning, to figure out the twist at the end that you don't want to miss. The very handsome Warren Williams, is my favorite Perry Mason, I loved his humor. Mary Astor, with her small, but very important part was great as the woman with the shady past.

Mary Astor's first movie was a small part in, The Scarecrow (1920). She continued her acting career with many minor roles in several films until 1924, when Mary landed an important a role as Lady Margery Alvaney with John Barrymore in the film, Beau Brummel (1924). She would star with him again in the film, Don Juan (1926).

Mary was popular with film goers and by the end of the twenties "talkies" had taken over the movie industry and Mary was one of those lucky actresses who made the successful transition.

Mary kept the spotlight in the films: Red Dust (1932), Convention City (1933), Man of Iron (1935), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937).

In 1938, Mary, remained popular and performed in five more feature films.

In 1941, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Sandra Kovac in, The Great Lie (1941). That same year she appeared in the film The Maltese Falcon (1941), but.. her star soon began to fade, because of her personal problems.

Her final performance on the silver screen was as Jewell Mayhew in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). Total she had performed in a total of 123 movies.


  1. Mary Astor is always great as a woman with a shady past, isn't she? A lot of actresses do these characters well, but Astor's portrayals are a real treat.

    Thanks for a great review, and for not giving away the ending. I haven't seen this one, but am looking forward to it.

    Thanks for participating in our blogathon.

  2. I always enjoy a good Erle Stanley Gardner story. Mary looks so cool under pressure. Helps to have a good attorney when you're in trouble.

  3. Silver Screenings, Thank you for hosting the Mary Astor Blogathon. After reading all the wonderful reviews, I did not realize that I have not seen very many of Mary Astor's films.

    Caftan Woman, I can not wait to read your contribution to the Mary Astor Blogathon.

  4. I've not seen this film, but I enjoyed your review. Mary Astor had such a wide range of roles in her career, and this has been a great blogathon for bringing that out. Thanks for the background info as well.

  5. I've been getting into detective movies from this era recently and would love to see Warren William as Perry Mason... plus, with Mary Astor also featuring, this particular film sounds like a must. Enjoyed your review a lot!

  6. Thanks for the review! It sound fun and Mary Astor excelled at shady ladies! Another one to add to the must-see list!

  7. Great choice Dawn! I got all the Perry Mason movies on DVD from my Mom for Christmas. This one is one of the best.

  8. Lovely post, Dawn. It's amazing what Mary could do with a small role. I don't think anyone surpassed her skill and artistry in this department.

  9. Jacqueline T Lynch, I agree.. I'm learning about many Mary Astor films, that I also have not yet seen.. This blogathon was a great idea..

    Judy, I think that you will enjoy all the fun twist and turns...

    Gwen Kramer, love those shady ladies..

    Gilby37, you lucky girl!! Good to see you back in the blogging world.

    FlickChick, Yes, she had a very small but, important part in this film..

  10. I think many of Astor's best roles are the smaller ones. There is just something about her that makes every role better. Great post.

  11. Hi, Dawn!
    I haven't seen this little gem. : ( Cliff got me started on Warren and I've done my best to see as many of his films as I can. (He's such a wonderful actor!) And I love this genre.

    You've given us such an interesting review, with great insight and it has certainly peaked my interest in finding this one.

    Happy Mothers Day to you, Dawn! : )

  12. Lasso The Movies, Thank you..

    Hey Page, I'm also a huge Warren William fan and try and catch his films whenever they are on TCM.

    Thank you for the Mother's Day wishes..

  13. Warren Williams is so great as Perry Mason and my favorite as well. I hadn't quiet thought about it, but your right Mary Astor is great at playing the shady lady. Those characters seem to be her most memorable roles.


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