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>
It's nice to be among my fellow Dragnet fans. There is an important point to be made about the fifties and that is that it was an age of excess. It was big brass, big dance number, and big build up to every stupid little deal to the point that it was obnoxious and oppressive, especially to a kid. The landmarks in pop culture of the era were things that stood in opposition to that and provided blessed relief with a sense of brevity and minimalism. In westerns it was the emotionally and geographically beak landscape of Kansas in Gunsmoke. In comedy there was a show called The Honeymooners with a set that consisted of a table, one or two chairs, and a door that Ed Norton kept bursting through. In jazz it was the three, four, and five piece combos as opposed to big band. In popular music, it was Elvis with lead, rhythm, bass, and drums. (Actually not even drums at first). But the Daddy of them all was Dragnet. Terse is not the word. It's minimalism was blatantly self conscious to the point of absurdity. The public was stunned. It had the effect of being stripped of all nonsense so that you thought you were seeing the real thing. You weren't but you sure thought you were. When Joe Friday came on with his tired monotone and said "This.......is the city........it has churches........it has schools........it has parks.......", we thought it was so cool we could hardly stand it. But the biggest quote was "just the facts, ma'am". We used to repeat that all over the playground. Every time somebody was going too far it was "hey there, just the facts". And that's why the movie is a failure. That incredibly stylish brevity can't be stretched out. It has to be a half hour, otherwise it just looks like they're going around in circles. However the movie is still very enjoyable and a worthy addition to your collection (or mine anyway). The reason for that is that the movie has plenty of this other thing that the TV show was famous for which a vast array of delightfully god awful two bit loser punk criminals. Dragnet never dealt with Mr. Big, it was always these awful little two bit people, con men, purse snatchers, etc. There was even one incredible child molester episode (The Big Crime Sept 9, 1954). Jack Webb could really get the creepy feel going with these characters. I don't know if it's my imagination but does LA have a creepier underworld than other cities? Maybe the authors and screenwriters have made it seem so. But I recently read a biographical sketch of Barbara Graham (I Want To Live) and I honestly wish I hadn't, it was too creepy. So anyway in the movie you lose the terseness but keep the criminals. As for the color, of course it's not Dragnet but it's still fun if only for the sake of contrast. So check it out. Tell them Groucho sent you.
4 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this