Tonight I watched ‘The Case of the Glittering Goldfish’ from season 2 of Perry Mason (1959). As I watched, I was struck by the choices of the director… lots of zooms, pull-outs, tracking shots and odd angles. I knew when the credits rolled I had to note the name of this director, who put his odd personal stamp on this episode of a show not normally known for its unorthodox camera work. I mean if you’re actually noticing the cinematography in an episode of Perry Mason someone must be trying pretty hard to be noticed.
Gerd Oswald was the director of this and three other episodes of Perry Mason and much else besides, according to his IMDB entry, including two episodes of the original Star Trek.
Here’s just one example of an odd angle. A shot of the judge, inserted for no apparent reason. Just whose viewpoint is this supposed to be?
And here’s a very atypical (for Perry Mason) zoom shot. All the more odd as it lingers on Perry, his client and the client’s girlfriend who delivers her lines while she’s slightly out of focus. Gerd must really have wanted that zoom shot! (Sorry for the out of sync audio… I’m wondering if it’s something to do with posting TV shows, however old and truncated, on the web.)
As a fun aside, the character actor Olan Soulé, seen here on the right, makes a brief appearance as the court clerk. Apparently, in his long career he was in every TV show I ever watched as a kid. It’s truly amazing how many shows he was in.