(original radio play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview:
Sarah Selby ...
Alva Jarrett
Herbert Butterfield ...
John Jarrett (as Herb Butterfield)
J.P. O'Donnell ...
Evelyn Jarrett
Robert Knapp ...
Keith Jarrett
Howard Price ...
Officer Jim Hunt


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Drama | Crime | Mystery




Release Date:

13 January 1955 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Complications Mount For Sergeant Friday And His Partner.
18 June 2011 | by (Mountain Mesa, California) – See all my reviews

Complications Mount For Sergeant Friday And His Partner.

This is one of the most singular episodes from the long-running Dragnet television series. THE BIG FAMILY, also titled THE BIG THREAT (each teleplay was "THE BIG ...."), was adapted after a 1950 Dragnet radio broadcast, and is number 106 within the TV sequence. As ever a vehicle for the programme's creator and lead, Jack Webb, the plot is based upon actual incidents taken from Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.) files, as a voice-over states before each episode: "The story you are about to see (or hear) is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." As with each Dragnet tale, a voice-over introduction by a laconic ("Just the facts, ma'am") Sergeant Joe Friday (Webb) opens the film as the camera eye pans over Central Los Angeles streets: "This is the city. Los Angeles. I work here. I'm a cop." All Dragnet chapters are partially shot at the L.A.P.D. headquarters during the early 1950s, Los Angeles City Hall. The mentioned names of staff personnel are actually those of contemporary sworn members of the Department. Sergeant Friday, along with his latest partner, Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) are assigned this time (early 1955) to the Missing Persons Unit, an appendage of Homicide Division. This atmosphere of verisimilitude is a principal reason for the continued general success of the works. The storyline here depicts the disappearance of a wealthy businessman, John Jarrett (Herbert Butterfield), who has abandoned his automobile, that includes a suicide note, parked upon a dock at Los Angeles' San Pedro Harbor. However, Friday and Smith discover that all is not what it seems upon the surface after interrogating the missing man's drunken wife, tennis bum son, and sluttish daughter, each of whom is apparently disinterested in Jarrett's whereabouts. Shall the two police investigators accept the situation as it is, thereby letting well enough alone? Scriptwriter John Robinson has provided an answer, as will a viewer after watching this pleasingly nostalgic police procedural drama that is tightly constructed, as is appropriate for its less than thirty minute length.

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