What Happens in Vegas
When his brother kills himself because his life was destroyed by Richard Stuart (Robert Culp), David Benson (John Posey) packs of his daughter Melanie (Jenny Lewis) to stay with her mother whilst he heads to Las Vegas to kill Stuart for what he did. But things don't go to plan as David can't bring himself to do it, a woman meets with him and says for the right money she can help and then Stuart ends up murdered with David's gun leading to the father's arrest. Having sneaked to Vegas Melanie knows her dad didn't do it, fortunately for her Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) happens to be in Vegas with Ken Malansky (William R. Moses) and takes on David's case, discovering that others had just as much of a motive to kill Richard Stuart.
"Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter" is the first Perry Mason I have ever watched and two things immediately come to mind. The first is that as a fan of made for TV movies which feature murder mystery/crime solving I enjoyed it right from the minute I heard the famous Perry Mason theme music. The second is that I could spot that this was formula driven right from the word go as we have the innocent man facing trouble for a crime he didn't commit, the work of Mason and Malansky to solve the case, the charm of Mason's secretary Della Street looking after Mason and so on till the case is solved with Mason having his moment in court. And trust me when I say there is nothing wrong with that because in a way these Perry Mason movies are like a comfort blanket, you watch because they are familiar and make you feel a certain way.
Aside from what is clearly the Perry Mason formula "Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter" does have a few other things worth mentioning. One of those is the humour of Mason having to deal with Melanie as she ends up staying with him and Della in their suite. And then there are the various famous faces such as Ken Kercheval, Kevin Tighe and Robert Vaughn who play various poker buddies of Richard Stuart and as we discover all have motive for murder with one of them finding their situation getting so desperate that they are the guilty party. It is no spoiler to say that as that part is obvious, as to which one did it and why, well that is less obvious and almost borders on the old pulling a rabbit out of a hat situation.
What this all boils down to is that for those who enjoy the easy to watch, formula driven nature of TV movies then "Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter" will be enjoyable. But it does mean that for those who are looking for grit, detail and some might say realism this comes up short even if it has plenty of Perry Mason charm.