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7:00 a.m. - 2020-07-18
"Something I'm not too clear about myself right now." Perry Mason, season 1, episode 33, "The Case of the Long-Legged Models."

TCOT Long-Legged Models is actually a fairly straightforward murder mystery which is confused by a plot device involving three identical revolvers. Michael Garvin Sr. owns all three. He carries one in a holster, "ready for action," has given one to his son Michael Garavin Junior, the owner of a used car lot, and keeps one in a vault in his home. Thus, we have what District Attorney Hamilton Burger refers to as the Holster Gun, the Junior Gun, and the Vault Gun.

Junior was engaged to Stephanie Falkner, but threw her over for a former model named Margo Winter, whom he married. Michael Senior then realizes that he has romantic feelings for Stephanie. Stephanie's father is murdered by the gangsterish George Castle, who wants a piece of property owned by Falkner and thinks Stephanie will be easier to deal with. Knowing that Garvin Sr is Stephanie's financial advisor, he has placed Eva Elliot, another former model who has a dark past, in Garvin's employ as his secretary.

Garvin Sr. gives Stephanie the Holster Gun for protection. When Castle is shot dead by an unknown assailant, Senior thinks Stephanie might have done it, so unbeknownst to her--and the audience-- he replaces the Holster Gun with the Vault Gun.

Michael Junior leaves his gun on the dresser and absentmindedly leaves for work without it. Margo finds it on the dresser and brings it to him, raising the possibility in the mind of the viewing audience that she might have used it herself. Junior puts the Junior Gun in his desk. Later that day Perry Mason visits Junior, asks to see the Junior Gun, and "mistakenly" fires a round, which ricochets off the desk and is lost through the window. Perry then has Junior come with him on a visit to Stephanie, where they give her the Junior Gun.

Note that Stephanie now has two guns: the Vault Gun and the Junior Gun. When Tragg arrests Stephanie for the murder of George Castle, he takes "her" gun, which is visible in plain sight. Unknown to Tragg (and the viewer) Stephanie has hidden the Junior Gun. The ballistics on what we later learn to be the Vault Gun show it to be the murder weapon. Perry's stratagem seems to have worked against his client.

Later we learn about Senior's exchange of the Vault Gun for the Holster Gun. Perry reasons that the only other person with access to the Vault Gun was Garvin's secretary Eva, who also had a motive to do away with Castle. Eva conveniently confesses in another dramatic courtroom finale.

I watched this episode several times before I understood all the exchanges involving the three identical guns. Note that the Junior Gun is basically a diversion; only the Holster Gun and the Vault Gun are key to the plot. But with only two guns this would be a relatively simple mystery that even Tragg might have solved.

The "happy ending" has Stephanie marrying Michael Senior, a generation older than she, with a fascination for revolvers. She thereby becomes the stepmother of her former fiancé Michael Junior, whose wife Margo reveals a jealous streak when Junior offers Della a ride in one of the cars from his lot. This unusual little family seems destined for its own reality TV series in a few years.


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