On a dark night of pelting rain, five men stage a well-planned train robbery and get away with a $10 millionr, nine-ton gold shipment. Dividing the massive haul into three concealed truck ... See full summary »
Saturday, April 9: A known bookie named Miller Starkie has been "cut in half" by a sawed-off, double-barrel shotgun. Working out of Intelligence Division, Sgt. Joe Friday and Off. Frank Smith piece together what little evidence they have, interview acquaintances, intimidate witnesses, interrogate suspects to the point of harassment, utilize a Minifon and a wiretap, and testify before the Grand Jury in a tireless effort to catch and convict Starkie's killers. Written by
Michael J. Hayde <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The movie followed the then current tendency of radio and TV shows to work in the sponsor's products wherever possible. Liggett & Meyers Tobacco was the TV/radio series' main sponsor, and though it is doubtful they had any financial involvement with the movie, packs of their Chesterfield cigarettes can be seen throughout the movie. Every public place in the movie also featured a Chesterfield vending machine. See more »
The calendar on the wall of the police detective's office is an actual April 1954 calendar that shows the first day of the month falling on a Thursday and the last day of the month falling on a Friday. This wall calendar can be seen out of focus during a time when Webb's monologue voice over claims was "Saturday, April 23" and again in focus on "Monday, April 25." However, the authentic calendar on the wall is a day off from Webb's claims with Saturday being April 24 and Monday falling on April 26. See more »
Hard-hitting crime drama bearing little relation to TV series
"Dragnet" was the first theatrical feature to be based on a successful television series. Too bad its script bears little relation to the elements of that show.
In the 1952-59 series, viewers never saw the crime being committed. "Dragnet" was a mystery program; Sgt. Friday and Officer Smith would be called in to solve a crime, then locate and arrest the guilty party/parties. (As Webb put it, "This makes YOU a cop, and you unwind the story.") "Dragnet" (1954) begins with the actual crime, so that we KNOW who's guilty even before the titles appear. The movie is no mystery, merely the depiction of a murder investigation, in toto.
Worse, the Sgt. Friday in this film is not the quiet, dedicated cop of the radio and TV original. The feature marks the beginning of Friday the Supercop, the holier-than-thou sergeant never without a wisecrack for the criminal ("Unless you're growin', sit down!") or a put-down for the recalcitrant citizen ("Mr. Friday, if you was me, would you [testify]?" "Can I wait awhile... before I'm you?").
The film was a huge box office success, the most profitable of Webb's five theatrical productions. It cost a hair over $500,000 to make, and took in nearly six million. It was Warner's second-highest grossing film of 1954, after "The High and the Mighty." And, of course, it opened the door for the TV crossovers that continue to this day. It's just a shame that the "real" Sgt. Friday didn't appear, and an even bigger shame that this 'evil twin' eventually eclipsed the original.
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