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|Index||13 reviews in total|
There's no way you could ever truly "get" "Police Squad" or any of the
"Naked Gun" movies without seeing "M Squad." When you see "Police
Squad" or "Naked Gun", you know it's satire, but satire of what? You
realize it must be satire of old police dramas, but very pointedly, it
is satire of THIS PARTICULAR police drama. They broke the mold on film
noir police dramas with this one.
This was no sissypants show. It was made for men who appreciated real men - the perfect vehicle for Lee Marvin as Frank Ballinger, tough Chicago detective. With his low-voiced police growl and tall lanky tough-guy look, he dealt with Chicago bad guys with frank talk, force and the point of his snub-nosed revolver.
This show would have a difficult time airing today due to its lack of political correctness in the violence department. However, it would be fun to see another run on cable.
This show was so hard-bitten Ballinger almost got killed once having been pumped full of lead. When did Joe Friday ever get shot? It's a crime this adult drama has never been rerun.
The opening scene was one of the best in TV history. Every week you saw
the grille of Lee's '53 Ford come wheeling around a city corner and the
words 'M SQUAD' flashing onto the screen as the car is coming into full
view. It got you ready for a great police adventure with a character
that could only be played by someone of Marvins' persona. He had the
tough guy role down to a science - better than Clint Eastwood, Telly
Savalas or Jack Lord.
Marvin had a way of speaking to the criminal element (or anyone he didn't like for that matter) that caused them to stop and reflect on the probable outcome of an escalated confrontation with him. As a kid, I tried to copy that poker face and steady sure voice that caused the bad guys to back down. Never quite got the hang of it; there will only be one Lee Marvin.
Hoping that some day these episodes are reproduced - it was TV at its best.
I remember M-Squad when it first came on. I was 15. Lee Marvin was a "no nonsense" cop much like Dan Matthews and Steve McGarrett. Lee Marvin was as good being good as he was good being bad. I think that Police Squad is based on this show. I have the original LP from the tv show that I bought 40 years ago and copied it and still play the tape in my car. The background jazz music was terriffic.
M Squad is probably the only true film noir TV show ever shot. It was done with low camera angles and the most intense black and white photography with surprising lighting. As few shades of gray as possible were used. It needs to be viewed on a b/w TV for the full effect. It is an important work, and if the series still exists, it should be shown on PBS. Very intense drama. A good antidote to the sugary sweet shows like (two of my true favorites) Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. Good shows, but the fifties were nasty, and the TV shows that you find on G4 or Nick are just not representative. It was a show that made the viewers uncomfortable, I have read. I a very thankful that my parents never took those parental rating seriously (yes, they had them then).
I've been working my way through the DVDs by timeless media. Man, they are great. Great because of Lee Marvin. I was expecting Marvin might have some work yet to becoming the Lee Marvin we know in Point Blank and The Killers. No way. He has tough guy cop done better here than it's ever been done. Someone mentioned that Marvin's Frank Ballinger challenged bad guys to escalate things with him. That's the perfect way to put it. The gun stays on the hip, Marvin gets in their face, reads them the facts and lets them absorb it. And then cuffs them. There are so many subtle things Marvin does here that make the tough guy work. It's maybe how he appraises the other actors. Like he's thinking " I'm listening, I'll tell you later if I believe you." Very stony. The material, in it's sketchy short form, deflates the magic of Marvin here and there but in a funny way. My favorite Police Squad type of moment has Marvin in a fistfight at the circus that starts a fire that burns the whole circus down in an apocalypse of panic and flames. Footage of some old big budget movie used as a backdrop. Very Frank Drebbin kind of unintended consequence. I recommend you get your own copy of Marine sniper turned actor kicking ass on TV
"When I was a child around 7-8 years old I loved the police series that came on in the 50s Highway Patrol, The Lineup, San Francisco Beat,Mike Hammer, but I think that M-Squad was my favorite. Lee Marvin was DANGEROUS as Lt. Ballanger. But the sound track of Count Basie was what made me watch this show every week, and made me a life long Basie fanatic. I hope somebody will put all 117 episodes on video because I would certainly buy all of them.
Lee Marvin became and remains one of my favorite actors because of this series. As a kid I eagerly awaited Friday nights at 9:00 (EST) on NBC. Frank Ballinger always got the bad guy, and we got to hear some really cool music along the way. The late fifties and early sixties were a golden age for TV cop shows and TV music -- this show was one of the main reasons. After much travail, I have managed to obtain a rare videocassette of two episodes, and even rarer, a copy of a CD reissue of the sound track LP. Great stuff! The "Police Squad!" opening credit sequence, and the characters of Frank Drebin and his boss, were lifted (lovingly, I am sure) from this show.
If you take a good look at this series, you realize that "Police Squad" is its weird son. If there is a difference between Leslie Neilson's character and Lee Marvin's hard bitten cop, only your funnybone could tell. As such, this series should be seen in a new light..just after an episode of "Police Squad" or a "Naked Gun" movie. But...the best jazz theme song ever.
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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