Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
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>
The recording device is a Protona Minifon Mi-51, which was introduced in 1951 and was the first of a series of portable recorders built in Germany by Monske & Co GmbH. Adjusted for inflation, the device cost just under $4,000.
While the use of a small standard microphone is seen in the movie, there was another microphone that was disguised as a wristwatch with a wire running up the user's sleeve.
The Mi-51 was a strange device, as the components ran on three different voltages, one for the motor, one for the miniature vacuum tubes, and another voltage for the filaments of the tubes. Within a year of the release of this film, the Mi-51 was replaced by the P-55, which was operated by a set of buttons on the end, similar to what would later be seen in a portable cassette recorder. See more »
The update about the streets not intersecting in real life comes under the heading of "names were changed to protect the innocent". Webb did this many times in the TV series as well as in this picture. See more »
Hard-hitting crime drama bearing little relation to TV series
"Dragnet" was the first theatrical feature to be based on a successful television series. Too bad its script bears little relation to the elements of that show.
In the 1952-59 series, viewers never saw the crime being committed. "Dragnet" was a mystery program; Sgt. Friday and Officer Smith would be called in to solve a crime, then locate and arrest the guilty party/parties. (As Webb put it, "This makes YOU a cop, and you unwind the story.") "Dragnet" (1954) begins with the actual crime, so that we KNOW who's guilty even before the titles appear. The movie is no mystery, merely the depiction of a murder investigation, in toto.
Worse, the Sgt. Friday in this film is not the quiet, dedicated cop of the radio and TV original. The feature marks the beginning of Friday the Supercop, the holier-than-thou sergeant never without a wisecrack for the criminal ("Unless you're growin', sit down!") or a put-down for the recalcitrant citizen ("Mr. Friday, if you was me, would you [testify]?" "Can I wait awhile... before I'm you?").
The film was a huge box office success, the most profitable of Webb's five theatrical productions. It cost a hair over $500,000 to make, and took in nearly six million. It was Warner's second-highest grossing film of 1954, after "The High and the Mighty." And, of course, it opened the door for the TV crossovers that continue to this day. It's just a shame that the "real" Sgt. Friday didn't appear, and an even bigger shame that this 'evil twin' eventually eclipsed the original.
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