Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun (TV Movie 1986) Poster

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Not A Sin Of The Flesh, But A Sin Of Greed
bkoganbing15 June 2008
Interesting that about five years before all the sex scandals started breaking with the Catholic Church, this Perry Mason mystery is about a nun accused of murder because she was trying to cover up an affair with a priest.

In Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun the eminent criminal lawyer is now defending Michele Greene who was working with Father Timothy Bottoms doing an audit of a Catholic hospital. But a letter in her room sent to her by Bottoms implicates her big time when he turns up dead.

But these two frocked accountants uncover a lot of pilferage from that hospital, in fact it was Archbishop William Prince who retains Raymond Burr to defend Greene. This other sin, this nonsexual one opens up a host of other suspects.

Perry Mason always had a G rating and the sex among clergy is a topic treated most gingerly. Still Greene's not certain whether she can take her final vows in the end.

David Ogden Stiers made the first of eight appearances as the District Attorney and James McEachin was in nearly all the rest of the Perry Mason films as Sergeant, later Lieutenant Ed Brock.

This is one of the better Perry Masons as we discover just which commandments are broken that provide a motive for a homicide. Come to think of it, that's a commandment as well.
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A new different he's armed..and still dangerous..
Xjayhawker14 March 2013
Some people claim this one isn't up to the series standards..and although I don't know who comes up with the ratings that show up on television..this episode gets 3 out of 4 that makes this one pretty with most Mason movies..this one also has faces that are familiar to most face and voice that always stands out is William Prince who played corruption and evil perfectly in Clint Eastwood's The Gauntlent..and in this he plays above's always been special to look upon the faces of the guilty as they are exposed and this no exception..stunned looks all around..this was still early in Paul Drake juniors turn as in-house Mason detective before he let his hair go from normal to over-the-top..there are enough sub-plots to satisfy and Mason with a gun in his hand is startling and somewhat amusing to see..but back in the 90's the Church was still held in high esteem..but there has always been dealings within the Church that looks better under a rug..swept away and not talked this case an audit uncovers corruption and the guilty must cover up all they are involved in..hence..murder and scape goats..actually a nice entry in the series..
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Top-notch crime drama; well worth watching.
uniqraph12 December 1999
Like all of the Perry Mason series, this episode keeps you watching until the last scene. I have seen all of the Perry Mason shows at least once. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys courtroom dramas. They are well written and and all the actors fit their parts to a 'tee'.
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Dated and less refined that later films but still worth seeing
bob the moo3 February 2004
Father O'Neil and his assistant Sister Margaret are conducting a detailed audit of the church's financial dealings across the church and the local hospital. O'Neil quickly makes enemies among the management, who fear his cost-cutting measures will bring their gravy train to an end. With rumours of O'Neil and Margaret having an affair, a hired killer takes his chance to kill O'Neil and frame Margaret. The Archbishop calls his old friend Perry Mason to help defend Margaret and the Church.

An early Mason in the TVM series of films, this is better in some ways than the later films but not as good in others. The plot is a little more interesting than usual and is different in that we see the hired killer doing the deed, although it still goes forward without us knowing who actually hired him. The film has the usual formula but it feels less polished than later films as well as having some elements that don't work as well. The action side of the film with Drake Jnr is less entertaining than usual, it lacks the rough humour although it does have the odd try - bringing Mason in toting a gun was a bad move and felt misjudged and ill-fitting to the character.

The usual flirty bit of action between Drake and his female sidekick is kinda impossible this time with his sidekick being a nun and all! In place of this they have a melodramatic subplot where Margaret struggles with her faith; however this is a little too heavily done and the music swells up too often - it doesn't sit well with the Mason formula. In fact the wider score also felt a little bit too worthy and it didn't work that well, although it did give the impression that the film had aspirations above TVM standards.

The cast is not that great and only has a few well-known faces in there that aren't used that well. Burr is assured in the courtroom scenes but is less comfortable with the gun or having to do all the melodramatic close ups required. Hale has barely a line to say and Katt doesn't have as much fun as he does in later films (before he bowed out for Moses to replace him - frightening how similar they look!). However this film contains two good performances in reasonably important roles: the DA and the regular Detective Brock. Stiers is one of the most distinctive DA's of the series, you do feel like he could beat Mason, even if he never does. McEachin is a series regular but his role has a little bit more than the usual dialogue to it here. Greene overdoes her role while the big name in the support cast is Tom Bosley - wow!

Overall this is worth seeing as all the usual formula are here; some elements are not as refined as they would later become and don't sit very well within the film. It's isn't great for this reason but fans of the series will enjoy it nonetheless.
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The second Perry Mason revival TVM stands as one of the best.
jamesraeburn200316 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A priest, Father O' Neil (Timothy Bottoms), and a young nun called Sister Margaret (Michele Greene) are carrying out a full financial audit on behalf of the church, including the church hospital. Father O' Neil suspects that embezzlement on a grand scale is taking place and the church's lawyers, accountants and even the hospital's chief of medicine fear that their gravy train is about to be brought to an end. Father O' Neil is murdered at his hotel by a hitman disguised as a priest who calls himself Father Logan (Hagan Beggs). He lures Sister Margaret to the hotel where he drugs her and squeezes the knife into her hand. When she recovers and is found with the murder weapon and the body she is duly arrested and charged with Father O' Neil's murder. Rumours had been circulating around the convent that she and Father O' Neil were having an affair, and a letter supposedly written by him to her ending the so-called relationship is found in her room. Sgt Brock (James McEachin) believes it to be her motive, but Perry has his doubts and suspects that whoever is embezzling the church hired the mysterious Father Logan to murder Father O' Neil and then frame Sister Margaret...

The first sequel to the successful TVM Perry Mason Returns (1985), which was based on the classic 1950's-60's courtroom drama series. Numerous sequels followed and this stands as one of the best. There is some great entertaining chemistry between William Katt (here reprising his role as the PI Paul Drake Jnr) and Michele Greene as Sister Margaret that is a joy to watch. She and Drake fall out after she insists on helping him carry out his investigation. He traps the phoney priest Father Logan in a health club, but Sister Margaret's meddling means that he loses him. Later, Della Street (Barbara Hale), urges him to make things up with her since everyone is shunning her because she's a murder suspect and she is all alone and needs a friend. Initially, Drake is reluctant and asks "Why are you looking at me?", but he finds her praying alone in the chapel and she confides in him that she doesn't feel she can make it as a nun. She is due to take her final vows soon, and although there was no actual affair between her and the murdered man, she admits that she loved him and as a result of that feels that she cannot meet the standards required of her by the church. In a moving scene, Drake manages to convince her that she does have the strength to do it and it isn't wrong to have feelings for somebody. There is also another powerful scene in the courtroom where she takes the witness stand against Perry's wishes and the prosecutor, Michael Reston (David Ogden Stiers), predictably, goes for her and attempts to bully her into confessing to Father O' Neil's murder and into admitting to their alleged affair. In a show of strength she denies it and then speaks out defending the murdered priest's integrity and that he never once broke his vows with her and she never did with him. Drake's encouragements lead her to take the brave stand she did and their friendship is restored. This provides the emotional element in the story and it comes off well thanks to good writing, Greene and Katt's performances and Ron Satlof's skilled direction.

Raymond Burr is on top form as Mason and his courtroom scenes are in full throttle mode here as he gives the witnesses both barrels on the witness stand. As he unmasks the killer, his repetitive "Isn't it true?" line of questioning builds it up to a real crescendo as the prosecutor keeps trying to object, the public gallery is loud in astonishment and Mason keeps going on and on despite the judge's furious and futile attempts to bring his court to order. In some later episodes, the courtroom scenes did not always manage to be as dramatic and as suspenseful as they are here.

The supporting cast is excellent with the most notable being Timothy Bottoms and Michele Greene as Father O' Neil and Sister Margaret. But, Barbara Parkins, Gerald S. O. Loughlin, Jon Cypher and Edward Winter also deserve praise as the people entrusted to look after the affairs of the church and hospital, and they all look untrustworthy, devious and on the make. But, you will be hard pressed to guess which of them is the guilty party before the end. Mention should also be made of Hagan Beggs as Father Logan.

Dean Hargrove's script contains a good plot peopled with interesting characters and it plays as fair as one could wish with the audience. Ron Satlof, the series' best director, directs with aplomb exploiting the setting of wintry Denver Colorado to maximum effect.
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A Nun's Story
boblipton21 February 2019
Father Timothy Bottoms is investigating possible corruption in the archdiocese at the order of the Archbishop. Novice Michele Greene has been assisting him. As he finds disturbing signs of corruption, rumors about a sexual relationship between the two swirl. When she is called to his hotel room, she finds an unknown priest there. He gives her a drink of sherry and she falls asleep. When she wakes, Bottoms' corpse is found, and she finds herself on trial for the priest's murder. Good thing that Raymond Burr is at hand when she is taken into custody and that he is Perry Mason.

Of course there are several other suspects, mostly having to do with the corruption issues, and when they're on the witness stand, you know that the least likely one will confess. In the meantime, there's the story of Miss Greene's character and her uncertainty about whether to take her final vows. It's a bit reminiscent of the movie A NUN'S STORY and makes the TV movie seem derivative. Still, there's always the fun of watching Raymond Burr in his signature role.
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A routine Perry Mason mystery
Leofwine_draca14 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
THE CASE OF THE NOTORIOUS NUN is a PERRY MASON mystery that seems to have been written by a writer working on autopilot. Certainly other than the religious background, this seems to be a very ordinary type yarn without much involvement by the main characters, particularly Raymond Burr who really takes a back seat in this one and Barbara Hale who barely appears. Case in point, take William Katt's character who arrives on a plane to help solve the case but who actually does very little aside from providing his usual bluster. Timothy Bottoms is the guest victim here and there are some cool slasher-style moments involving a murderous priest with a switchblade, but overall this is standard and unmemorable, with lame pseudo-romantic material and plenty of time wasting.
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Disposable Time Filler
Kevin-9411 July 2015
This made for TV mystery was dull and lifeless. There wasn't anything notable or well crafted about any aspect of it. The dialogue was flat. The cinematography was uninspired. Scenes are poorly staged with actors standing around awkwardly, and the pace in individual scenes frequently lagged. The acting was bland. The energy is low and the whole film lacks any real style or strong point of view. There are no interesting relationships here or memorable scenes.

The film features a dull mystery regarding the death of a priest. A nun he had been working with is charged with the crime. There's the usual collection of random, interchangeable suspects. Those used to smart and energetic legal dramas like "Law and Order" will be underwhelmed by the staid courtroom scenes. And the revelation of the killer falls flat, because really any of them could have done it. There's no real specificity or cleverness to the mystery's resolution.

Raymond Burr brings his trademark gravity to the Mason role, but the writers have not given him much to work with. Mason is a mostly expository character with little personality. He has no interests, quirks, passions or seemingly any personal life to speak of. He also doesn't seem to form even the slightest emotional bond with anyone else in the story. He's utterly disengaged. Follow his example and disengage from the film yourself.
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Murder most Foul
sol121813 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Perry Mason, Raymond Burr, just recovering from a minor heart-attack is all over the place here in "The Case of the Notorious Nun". Perry ends up even resorting to gun-play in getting the soon to take her final vows Sister Margaret,Michele Green,off on a 1st degree murder charge. Sister Margaret was arrested in the murder of the handsome and a bit boring and nothing seemly to excite him, even in him being murdered, Father Thomas O'Neil, Timothy Bottoms. That's when he was found murdered after what looked a stoned on mind altering drugs Father O'Neil and Sister Margaret had a midnight rendezvous at his hotel room hours just before his body was discovered by a hotel attendant.

We in the audience know right away that Sister Margaret was set up by this phony Father Logan, Hagan Beggs, who's actually a hit-man in disguise! It's that Father O'Neil was getting too close to who was behind selling off the church's real-estate holdings at dirt cheap prices and had to be silenced before he made it public. It's now up to Perry Mason and his in house private detective Paul Drake Jr played by actress, who plays Perry's private secretary Stella Street, Barbara Hale's real life son William "Kitty" Katt to find out who was behind Father O'Neil's murder.

We have Perry uncover all the hidden secrets that's going on in the church that lead to Father O'Neil's murder. It was Father O'Neil himself ,looking like he was drugged, Who was forced by his murderer to implicate Sister Margaret in a letter he wrote before he was knocked off. This had to do with what we can call a crime of opportunity on Father "Hit-Man" Logan's part in setting up Sister Margaret in Father O'Neil's murder by making it look like it was the result of a lover's quarrel between the two. This all played well for a while for Father Logan and those who hired him to knock off Father O'Neil. That's until Father Logan was discovered to be a fraud as well as ending up getting murdered himself, in order to shut him up, by the person or persons who hired him to murder Father O'Neil!

Still with enough evidence to exonerate Sister Margaret in Father O'Neil's murder the both mentally and logically challenged local D.A Michael Reston, David Ogden Stiers as well cop in charge of the Father O'Neil murder investigation former sergeant and now promoted, probably by paying off, to lieutenant Ed Brock,James McEachin insist on inditing Sister Margaret on a 1st degree murder charge! A charge so flimsy and full of holes that she'll very probably end up beating with the great Perry Mason,who never lost a case, being her defense attorney!

***SPOILER*** The very predictable ending is a bit of a disappointment in that the man who was behind Father O'Neil's murder,by hiring Father Logan as the hit-man, never had a chance to get on the witness stand. And at the same time have Perry with his masterful cross-examination tactics break him down and force him to confess to his crime. It was his partner in crime who broke down and spilled the beans on him as well as himself when he saw that the jig was up as Perry was about to cross-examine him!
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A poorly written, poorly directed waste of time
cavan-116 November 2008
The writers and director have priests and nuns doing what no priest or nun would do. Simply preposterous. Suspending disbelief is not enough; you actually have to shoot, mutilate, and burn your disbelief and scatter the ashes at one of the poles in order to tolerate this garbage.

Michele Greene's character isn't a nun, but a novitiate. She'd be in the convent or in class, not acting as some visiting priest's aide-de-camp; in fact, no nun would be in that capacity with a priest. It's ridiculous.

The priest wouldn't be at a hotel. He'd be in a rectory guest room. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Priests and nuns wouldn't "pal around" as these two did. It simply wouldn't happen. Preposterous.

Nuns wouldn't gossip with one another in the convent as is represented in the movie. These are not naive schoolgirls who would spend their time ooooohing and aaaaaahing about some boy. It's pathetic what's represented as plausible by the writers and the director.

Too bad. Michele Greene is, as usual, hot, even with her snood, but it's all too, too preposterous. Have a vomit bucket next to yourself if you're forced to watch this nonsense by a Perry Mason/Raymond Burr fan whom you don't want to offend

I suspect Burr needed the money and Greene needed the work. Burr's no doubt spinning in his grave and Greene's still cringing.
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