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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When's the last time French TV show was a hit in the US? This was it, in 1955. Two Parissienne detective solve crimes in ... uh ... Paris! They get about in Citroens and Pugeots. I think they saved one of them for Columbo. This show was at the same time as Dregnet and much more sophisticated (of course). The dialogue was all in English. Heavily accented. It appeared that the outdoor shots were done on location. This diversion from the typical US crime drama of the time (Dragnet, M Squad, etc.) led to a whole new genre of crime programming. "San Francisco Beat" was a direct descendant (if not a knock-off) of "Paris Precinct". I was very young (honest!) when this program was on, but really enjoyed it.
So I was 12 or 13 when I saw this show on TV, and I was not sophisticated about crime dramas on TV. In 1955 I knew DRAGNET and PERRY MASON, but nothing about what the Brits were doing in one of their prime specialties. Seeing a French detective show in the USA was more than novel. I recall watching more than a few episodes when the program was shown on our local TV station. My Mom thought Jourdan was especially handsome, having liked Charles Boyer when she was much younger and he was the great French heart throb in that era. Jourdan replaced Boyer in my Mom's heart, and he would go on to greater fame in GIGI and other films after this TV syndicated show. But, as far as I recall about Paris PRECINCT, Claude Dauphin was the lead 'tec in the programs, and Jourdan was the aide. Dauphin was not physically attractive like the handsome Jourdan, since Dauphin was somewhat short and doughy, but the two characters would eventually solve their cases or come to a final resolution. The other things I recall about this series on American TV are (1) its visual graininess and lack of sharp focus and (2) the sense of grayness that seemed to hang over Paris constantly. I think the shows were filmed during the off season in Paris before tourists invaded -- that is, during the late fall, winter and early spring before Paris put on her makeup. Might be worth trying to find DVDs of the show, but remember it's the 50's and film quality may not be the best. Also, for those mystery/detective story fans, it's a police procedural, not a cozy mystery, not in the who-dun-it tradition.
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