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Captain Grey headed an elite detective squad in the Chicago, Illinois Police Department dedicated to fighting organized crime. Lieutenant Frank Ballinger was one of the police officers who worked alone to arrest the villains. Written by
J.E. McKillop <firstname.lastname@example.org>
An episode featuring a Chicago cop taking a bribe led to Mayor Richard J. Daley banning any TV show or film from doing any shooting in Chicago at all. That ban was later broken with the filming of The Blues Brothers (1980). See more »
Lt. Frank Ballinger:
[spoken in voiceover near beginning of each episode, as he tells audience about a recently committed crime]
My name is Frank Ballinger, detective-lieutenant, M Squad, a special detail of the Chicago police.
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Straight out of the James M. Cain hard boiled school of crime fiction (minus the sex, of course) this was TV by men for men. Each episode began and ended with a pithy remark or two by the hero/narrator Detective-Leut. Frank Ballinger about "my town"--Chicago, that is.
Oddly, this fifty-plus year old series can still provide insights and observations that seem fresh, about police work, about human nature in general. The tough, minimalist dialog contains lines that make you want to write them down for future use.
Lee Marvin is perfect. He was only mid-thirties when this series was shot but looks somewhat older, or anyway more mature, with his lived-in face and prematurely white hair. Marvin personifies toughness but he's no Steve McQueen. That is, he can handle a line of dialog articulately, use his voice like a woodwind, yet lose none of his manliness.
The only aspect of the character of Lieut. Ballinger that is a bit unrealistic is his almost monkish attitude toward women--imposed on the character due to the prevailing broadcast standards of the time. In this series women are mostly trouble, or else the grieving widow of a police officer or the wife of a criminal, astonishingly naive about what her man really does.
Without all the technical advances of today's television production, this show accomplished more with just tight writing, solid acting and straightforward directing.
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