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Dragnet (1954)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 4 September 1954 (USA)
Two homicide detectives investigate the brutal shotgun murder of a crime syndicate member.

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Writer:

(screenplay)
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Initially intended as a pilot for the Dragnet 1967 TV series, featuring L.A. police detective Joe Friday and his partners, but not aired until 1969.

Director: Jack Webb
Stars: Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Vic Perrin
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Officer Frank Smith
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Officer Grace Downey
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Ethel Starkie
Vic Perrin ...
Deputy D.A. Adolph Alexander (as Victor Perrin)
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Belle Davitt
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Dick Cathcart ...
Roy Cleaver
...
Lee Reinhard
...
Chester Davitt
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Ray Pinker (as Olan Soulé)
...
Monte Masters ...
Fabian Gerard
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Storyline

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 <mmeajv@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Straight from Police Files-The Never-Told Trackdown of the Red-Spot Criminals! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 September 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Original Dragnet  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first theatrical film based on a television show. See more »

Goofs

The murder scene is an open lot bounded by Loma Vista, 3rd, Wentworth and Rachel. These are actual streets in the LA area but do not intersect or form a block. See more »

Quotes

Doctor: I'm sorry, was Mr. Troy a friend of yours?
Sgt. Joe Friday: No sir, we hardly knew him.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Rocket Squad (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Foggy Night in San Francisco
Music by Herman S. Saunders (as Herman Saunders)
Lyrics by Sidney Miller
See more »

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User Reviews

Hard-hitting crime drama bearing little relation to TV series
28 June 1999 | by (Manassas VA) – See all my reviews

"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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