Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Maligned Mobster

And so we come to the last movie on MeTV’s first Perry movie week, The Maligned Mobster.

We’ve certainly got an interesting situation for the premise: a supposedly reformed mobster is accused of murdering his wife and his lawyer, a longtime friend of Perry’s, comes to him for help. The lawyer deals in business matters and isn’t a criminal lawyer. He hopes Perry will defend the guy.

Perry doesn’t like the idea at all, but Della and Ken remind him of things he’s said about everyone deserving the best possible defense. Eventually he wears down enough that he decides to at least talk to the man. After also talking to the guy’s embittered son, and apparently feeling somewhat saddened by the fractured family, Perry determines to take the case.

Despite Ken reminding Perry of things he’d said, Ken is very much against the case. Still, he says that he’s in it for the long haul, even though he can’t help his feelings. It’s kind of unique to have that sort of conflict in the movies. It adds a realistic touch and it reminds me of when Paul didn’t always agree with Perry but was there to help anyway.

Both the scene of Della and Ken talking to Perry, and a later scene where Ken has to miss a date and Perry says he and Della will take the girl to dinner, are very reminiscent of the series proper. Poor Paul’s social life certainly suffered because of cases. I don’t think Perry ever offered to take Paul’s girlfriends to dinner, though!

I really enjoyed all the scenes in Perry’s office. It looks like a much bigger place than his office on the series. Of course, it also includes an office for Ken as well, and that idea of Perry taking him on as a law firm partner is neat. Having Ken as a sort of protégé makes me think the movies are doing more successfully what the series failed to do when they tried to use David as a steady cast member.

Ken really functions better without Amy constantly around. He may have a little problem here or there, but nothing like what Paul Jr. had. He’s a very competent investigator and lawyer and can manage things just fine on his own. And I wouldn’t be surprised but what Amy’s presence is what made Ken firmly decide that he investigates alone.

I’m kind of curious to know what would happen if Paul Jr. and Ken ever met and had to investigate together. I bet it would be a disaster. Paul Jr. would flub big time and Ken would be frustrated and keep wanting to work alone. And there would probably be lots of arguing.

This movie brought in another policeman, who also seemed quite personable and friendly. That's always nice to see; it makes them feel a lot more real and enjoyable to watch than some of the police scenes in other installments I've seen.

The solution of this mystery is particularly twisty and confusing and I’m not sure I could possibly try to summarize any of it offhand (at least, not without re-watching those parts). I found it almost impossible when Mom wanted me to try to explain some specific parts that she dozed off in. But it was really put together quite well, and in true Perry fashion, even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant things ended up being very important in the overall picture.

One of the most unique things about this installment, aside from the fact of Perry defending a presumably reformed mobster, is that the fellow is still not squeaky clean by a long shot. He definitely plays around with women, something that badly upset his wife. (Although maybe she was more upset than she should have been, considering that she was apparently playing around herself.) Most defendants in the series proper were innocent of such accusations levied against them. (The defendant in The Singing Skirt was a rare exception.)

Even more troubling and eyebrow-raising, this mobster defendant is eventually revealed to have killed a drug dealer who was selling drugs to the man’s son. Drug dealers are among the most repulsive scum of the earth, but of course, murdering them is still not acceptable behavior. It’s never actually revealed whether Johnny the defendant outright murdered him or if they had a fight that resulted in the death, but the movie ends with the judge ordering the case to be looked into more deeply.

This movie features one of the most shocking and intense scenes throughout the movie series, when gunfire is suddenly levied at Perry and his team and Johnny as they stand outside Johnny’s house. When it stops, Perry is lying on the porch, obviously bleeding. Cue commercial break.

I certainly didn’t want Perry to be seriously hurt, but it seemed to me like kind of a cop-out when the movie came back. There was a brief scene of Perry being taken away in the ambulance while an overwhelmed Della and Ken talk to reporters, with Della saying Perry would be in court tomorrow, and suddenly it switches to court and Perry is indeed there, his arm in a sling. As much as I didn’t really want another instance of hospital scenery, I think Perry being shot is one time when there should have been a scene there, with Della and Ken hurrying in to the hospital to see Perry and him with just his arm hurt and seeming fine and wanting out. I mean, if you’re going to shoot one of the main characters, that’s a pretty big thing. It should be treated as such, not just immediately brushed aside for other plot elements.

Perry being shot does play an important part in the case’s climax, however. First we learn that Johnny hired the guys to come fire on everyone to make the threat against him seem more real, since the D.A. wasn’t really buying the idea that someone killed the wife while thinking it was Johnny in the car. This appalls and angers Perry, as well it should, but since those characters were firing over everyone’s heads, it doesn’t seem that they were responsible for the shot that hit Perry.

The actual crime is a very convoluted conspiracy in which several of the characters were involved. But the final, heartbreaking nail is that the one who fired the shot at Perry and really was trying to kill him, is the lawyer who was Perry’s friend for thirty years. He had just wanted Perry to get Johnny off, not to dig into things so deeply that he would learn the truth. He felt that Perry had always been lucky rather than skilled, while he himself didn’t have any of that luck. When Perry started digging too deeply into things and was close to the truth, the guy figured he had to try to kill him. He said he didn’t want to, and he hadn’t wanted to arrange the death of Johnny’s wife (who also knew too much about his crooked acts) or the guy who killed the wife, but he did all of it anyway.

He was certainly a pathetic figure, not really deserving of sympathy. But a true friend can’t forget thirty years of friendship so easily, and the movie ends on a bittersweet note, with Perry sad about having to expose his friend as a criminal. It wasn’t exactly the ending I wanted and the movie didn’t leave me feeling too fulfilled because of it, but it was another touch of realism and I did like seeing how much Perry still cared about his friend in spite of everything. And it was nice to see Della there to try to help comfort him.

Overall, the movie was very good and I liked the uniqueness of it and its assorted realistic elements. There was a lot to like about it, and yet another was after the trial ends and the judge orders the drug dealer’s murder to be looked into. Johnny asks Perry if he’ll take care of that case too. Perry says that neither he nor the son can trust him. He will not take the case.

Johnny accepts that and leaves, while Perry talks to the son and asks for him to keep in touch. Despite the kid’s anger (which is likely at least somewhat justified), Perry likes him and wants to stay in contact with him. And the boy, sobered to realize how much his father cares about him despite whatever illegal acts he committed, goes and hugs Johnny. He may not be able to trust his father, but he can still love him.

It’s been fun watching all these Perry movies this week and actually managing to get the commentary in every following day. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that. I have a couple of upcoming topics, but after a week of non-stop posting, I may wait several days before putting up one of those.


  1. Really liked this entry, it was pretty intense and definitely one that raises some good questions too. How far is too far in regards of who to defend? And as for mobster defendant, tbh, I don't blame him for killing the dealer. He was concerned for his son and his safety.

    In the end it was interesting seeing who ended up being the real killer. And Della trying to comfort Perry was just sweet.

    1. Indeed. I've seen The Lawyers raise those types of questions as well. One of my upcoming posts will compare Perry with The Lawyers.

      Yeah, seriously. Even though I know it's wrong to kill anyone in cold blood, even scum like that, it's hard to fault the mobster too much for doing it. (And we still don't even know it was in cold blood, as I mentioned. There could have been a fight.)

      I did love Della trying to comfort Perry.

  2. Ah. What channel is The Lawyers on? Never heard of that show before.

    Yep. Good point. We didn't know the full story behind the situation. We only saw it from his side of it.

    1. You may have heard of it by its umbrella title: The Bold Ones. There were four different Bold Ones series: The New Doctors, The Lawyers, The Protectors, and ... The Senator? Not sure on that one. Joseph Campanella is on The Lawyers. So awesome.

      Cozi TV has been airing all the Bold Ones series, but they don't show all the episodes of any, just randomly selected ones. They did a few Lawyers ones a couple weeks ago and I'm anxiously waiting for more.

  3. I don't know if you know this little gem. I found it by accident!

    1. Oooh, thanks! The title seems familiar, so I may have looked at it, but I'm not fully sure. I'll check it out and see. :)