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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>
I agree with the other comments that it is somewhat disappointing that we already know the identity of the killer at the beginning, but it is obvious that the killing was shown so that we know Friday and Smith aren't harassing an innocent man throughout the movie. And harass they do. Because we know the killer, we can laugh they way Friday and Smith do when they frisk him four times a day and tailgate his car. The main problem with the movie is that the story just isn't as interesting as most of the stories of the television episodes were, and, as someone wrote, Friday is a different, tougher man, not as likeable as before. Another unfortunate thing is that in making the movie in color to attract audiences who had only seen "Dragnet" in black-and-white, the movie loses the stark film noir feel that many of the television episodes had. In addition, the movie was made when the television series started to bring more silly comedy into it, and, as a result, the movie contains far too much of it. The early episodes had a lot of dark humor, but not silly humor like this movie does, such as the scene with the big-busted singer, and the scene in which the bystanders watch Friday and Smith frisk Max Troy. Even Friday's one-liners aren't as darkly funny or clever as they are in the early television episodes. That said, the movie is still very interesting and rather entertaining if you give it a chance. Webb directs with a nice pace and the big production gives it a grand atmosphere that the television show can't capture. Had a "Dragnet" movie been done in black-and-white, with a more accessible story, and during the 1951-52 season when the only comedy was dark comedy, the movie would have been a bonafide classic.
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