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[Introduction to each episode]
[to the camera]
What you are about to see is a real-life story, taken from the files of the police racket and bunco squads, business protective associations and similar sources around the country. It is intended to expose the confidence game - the carefully worked-out frauds by which confidence men take more money each year from the American public than all the bank robbers and thugs with their violence.
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All of those Cons, Tricksters, Grifters, Pick Pockets and Sneak Thieves and not one Heart-o-Gold Among them! What would Damon Runyan say?
Forget about Gun Play, Car Chases and Grueling Interrogation Rooms. You won't see any of them in RACKET SQUAD(1950-53). That stuff just is not there, just as it usually is not in real life. That, Schultz, would make it much more realistic.
The format was very simple, yet it was probably perfect for these half-hour dramas. Following some opening credits, we were brought by the camera to the Desk, complete with a uniformed copper manning the desk. As the telephone rings, in a sort of a deep, sort of gravely voice, he answers the phone, "Rrrrracket Squad!" We then meet Captin John Braddock(Hollywood Veteran & my own personal Favourite "Zorro", Reed Hadley). After that we get a typical opening monologue about how "......the Confidence Man, whose carefully worked out schemes are responsible for taking more money from the American Public than all the Thieves and Thugs with their violence!" Break for Commercial, and then; the uniformed Desk Officer (who by the way is decked out with earphones and switch board), buzzes on the intercom, "Captain Braddock, Captain Braddock! Ready! And then the good Cap'n 'ould start off the story. Captain reappears after second break with the stock remark (and stock film)remarking, "Let's see how this Case is progressing!", while reading from the file.
In the stories, all sorts of devious Criminal ploys and scams are dramatized and thus exposed to the viewers. In some of the episodes we have, we see A Phony Spiritual Reader & Medium, bogus Charities, phony "Gasoline" tablets,a Dance Studio/Black Mail scam, a Crooked Used Car Salesman(imagine that!) and Counterfeit Firemen's Charitable Organization. And by the way, all of the Cons dramatized are real, having been used then and even now, as you read this, Schultz! And good use was made of the practice of having Guest Stars in the Episodes. Just off the top of my head, I can recall Billy Halop, John Ducette, Jimmy Gleason, Allen Jenkins, Eddie Keane, Anthony Caruso and even Henry Kulky in various supporting roles.
And RACKET SQUAD had no stated locale, nor even an implied one. So, the stories could be in any kind of terrain, just as long as it was in the "good old" USA. A farm area one week, a busy inner-city locale the next and finally an "upscale" community/neighborhood the following, they'd all get their turn, and did.
As for our friend, Captain Braddock, you never hardly saw him in the story itself; but he almost always showed up in the end for making "The Pinch."* He had a sufficient number of Detectives and Uniformed Cops with him. They would then presumably take 'em all downtown!(We weren't sure, 'cause we then saw another commercial.
After the final commercial break, we were back in Captain Braddock's Office for the sign-off and his final words of wisdom:
"Remember, there are people who can slap you on the back with one hand. and Pick Your Pocket with another! And it could happen to you!" God, how we loved that show! It was so informational and entertaining! And it proclaimed and endorsed a closer, more decent way of life. And it possibly had just about as good a thumbnail sketch of what Policemen and Police Departments are all about.
Thank You again, Lord, for my VHS and DVD's and for making RACKET SQUAD available!
NOTE: * The "Pinch", term first heard by my little ears from my own Dad, while watching RACKET SQUAD! Thanks, Dad!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John T."Red" Ryan is a lifelong Chicago Resident, a Veteran "Bumper Morgan-Type" Street Cop, Retired after 35 years. He now just watches the grass grow and helps out the Wife, Deanna, with her Real Estate Business. Their Nest is now empty, with both Daughters, Jenn and Michelle(Notre Dame Grads,both), living in the D.C.area.
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