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>
No wonder LAPD loved him it's like their PR folks wrote this script.
Jack Webb made a very good living starring and directing in various TV versions of Dragnet in the 1950s and again in the late 1960s. His continued support for the hard work that the brave city police did for their communities built him a strong audience base among law enforcement members and their supporters.
In Dragnet (1954) Webb, who starred in his familiar role of Sgt. Joe Friday, also produced this one sided propaganda film. He shows a world where innocent witnesses, to organized crime murderers, are to be scorned for not risking their lives to testify in proceedings; A judicial system, that should stand back and allow police to determine where and when to wire tap citizens.
In addition, the residents of L.A. should feel their safety is almost assured when Friday's captain (Richard Boone) authorized non-stop surveillance of four suspected syndicate members; I guess the dozen or more officers, involved here, can be spared for this detail since things must be fine elsewhere in the city.
At one point, Friday and his portly detective partner Officer Frank Ryan, played in almost obscurity by actor Ben Alexander, beat up younger, larger thugs in an unintentionally funny brawl in a private club.
Webb certainly had the right to create a film stock full of glowing praise for the law enforcement agency that helped make him a very wealthy man. However, unlike the hour long television versions of this same material, Dragnet (1954) is a feature length sanitized, political piece of propaganda better left to a law enforcement recruitment video.
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