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.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
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Vic Perrin ...
Don Negler, alias J. Johnson
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Mrs. Eve Kruger
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Capt. Hugh Brown
John Roseboro ...
Sgt. Dave Bradford
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George Freeman
Tom Williams ...
Melvin Gannon
Jack Ragotzy ...
Carl Rockwell
Roger Til ...
William Smith
Jean-Michel Michenaud ...
Claude LeBorg (as Gerald Michenaud)
...
Freddie
Herbert Ellis ...
Rico 'Ricky' Markell
...
Max Shelton
Elizabeth Rogers ...
Eve Sorenson
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Storyline

Sgt. Joe Friday is called back from vacation to work with his partner, Off. Bill Gannon, on a missing persons case. Two amateur female models and a young war widow have vanished, having been last seen with one J. Johnson. In the course of tracking down Johnson and the young ladies, the detectives wind up with two different descriptions of the suspect, one of which closely resembles a dead body found in a vacant lot. But the dead man, later identified as Charles LeBorg of France, proves not to be J. Johnson, when a third young model disappears. Written by Michael J. Hayde <mmeajv@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

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Details

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Release Date:

27 January 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

World Premiere: Dragnet  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Pierce Brooks, the technical advisor on this film, was the Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective who originally solved the actual case on which this film was based. See more »

Goofs

Carol Freeman was married but her husband was killed in Vietnam, it is very possible that she went back to her maiden name. See more »

Quotes

Claude LeBorg: ...Trouvez-les!
['Find them!"]
William Smith: [Translating] The boy implores you to find whoever it is that did this to his father and see that they are punished for what they have done.
Sergeant Joe Friday: [Claude wraps his arms around Friday's legs and cries hard] You don't have to translate any more.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Dragnet (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme From Dragnet (Danger Ahead)
Composed by Walter Schumann
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User Reviews

 
Joe Friday Returns To Duty To Help Track Killers
28 January 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Seven years had elapsed since the end of the original incarnation of Dragnet, and the show's popularity in syndication helped persuade Jack Webb to film this 1966 telemovie, which became the basis for the full-time return of Joe Friday to duty as telefilmdom's most famous working detective for the LAPD, this despite the fact the actual Richard Breen-scripted telefilm was kept in the can until 1969.

Dragnet 1966 alludes to the 1950s series when Joe mentions having a previous partner named Smith. This is a nice touch that helps bridge the two decades of Joe's detective duty together, though it does raise the question of why Friday, who'd been promoted to lieutenant, was reassigned as a sergeant. In any event, Joe's return to duty is welcome, and his interplay with new partner Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) and the other detectives of LAPD's Homicide Division (later merged into the Robbery Division) remains engaging.

Friday is recalled to duty from a vacation by the visit of Russian VIPs, but that lasts all of two minutes before Homicide chief Captain Hugh Brown (a miscast Gene Evans; Art Balinger normally played Hugh Brown but is curiously cast as another officer here) assigns Friday and Gannon to help with the tracking of three missing young models.

As with Breen's previous Dragnet film, we see in the prologue the actual commission of the crime - the three girls are bound and gagged, their suffering filmed and photographed by the perp responsible. Unlike the 1954 Dragnet, however, here we do not see the face of the killer, though his rear profile gives us an indelible image nonetheless. Friday and Gannon get a name - J. Johnson - who'd been dating one of the missing models and had seen her at a ritzy dating service run by a sometimes-intemperate woman, Eve Kruger (veteran Dragnet actress Virginia Gregg), whose description of the man is at variance with that given by the missing woman's brother.

Friday and Gannon get what looks like a break when a body matching J. Johnson's description is found in a rundown out of the way area, brutalized and shot. A book of matches on the body helps identify the body and leads the two officers to the man's brother and the man's young son - this is among the most gut-wrenching scenes in the entire Dragnet series; making it all the more powerful, the dead man's young son sings Way Down Upon The Swanee River - in French! Such mildly comedic touches are common to the color Dragnets and help humanize the characters more.

Joe and Bill find the two men responsible - one is played by Herb Ellis, the original Officer Frank Smith of the Dragnet series in 1952 before being replaced by Ben Alexander in 1953; Friday also "pulls dropsy" in a sense; he tricks the perps into copping out to the crime - but after apprehending the two perps the original J. Johnson strikes again.

But as Friday laments the lack of a good clue to J. Johnson's identity, he promptly finds a good clue - one so good it leads to a cliffside confrontation amid driving rain between a small batallion of LAPD squad cars and the real killer, who has his latest victim hostage in a trailer he intends to push over the cliff - which can give way any minute in the downpour - if the cops don't amscray in five minutes.

Another link between Dragnets 1950s and '60s comes near the end - as in the 1954 movie, a toolbox proves instrumental in wrapping up the murder case, containing as it does all the evidence needed to pin the crime on the right man.


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