Sarge (1971–1972)
2 user

The Badge or the Cross 

After his wife is murdered, a veteran cop quits the police department and becomes a priest. Several years later he is assigned to a parish where he meets the man who killed his wife--and ... See full summary »


Richard A. Colla


Don Mankiewicz


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
George Kennedy ... Sarge Swanson
Ricardo Montalban ... Al Matteo
Nico Minardos ... Nico
Diane Baker ... Carol Swanson
Stewart Moss ... Father Terrence
Sallie Shockley Sallie Shockley ... Valerie
Larry Gates ... Arnie Bigelow
Harold Sakata ... Kenji Takichi
Naomi Stevens ... Mama Bain
Henry Wilcoxon ... Bishop Andrade
Stanley Livingston ... Charlie
Dana Elcar ... Father Frank Dinsmore
Ramon Bieri ... Chief Dewey
Walter Brooke ... Rector
Charles Tyner ... Hawley


After his wife is murdered, a veteran cop quits the police department and becomes a priest. Several years later he is assigned to a parish where he meets the man who killed his wife--and discovers that the killer was gunning for him instead. Written by

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Plot Keywords:

tv series pilot | See All (1) »









Release Date:

22 February 1971 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

San Diego, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

I have no idea why this stands out in my memory...
29 December 2018 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... and maybe part of it is that it was mentioned on the cover of TV Guide the week that it played. It is about a cop (George Kennedy) whose wife is murdered who decides to leave the force and become a priest. I remember some things about the movie. One of the things that stand out is the argument that the seminary is having about "Sarge" studying for the priesthood in the first place. The controversy seemed to revolve - not around his age - but his previous marital status. Because he was married, Sarge obviously "likes" women and has had sex with women, and this is a problem for some of the priests running the seminary, oddly enough. Ultimately they decide that he is unmarried now due to the death of his spouse, and as long as he remains celibate he can be a priest.

He winds up serving in the same San Diego neighborhood in which he was patrolling, finds his wife's murderer, and has to decide what to do based on whether he is really a cop at heart, or a priest.

The first two episodes of the series based on the movie were cross overs with Ironside in Season 5 of that show, and I would tell you to go watch the DVDs of Season 5 of that series to get a taste of the Sarge character, but alas Ironside DVDs ended with Season 4. So it seems Sarge is cursed to remain forever in our memories, although the cross-over episodes with Ironside sometime show up on youtube and other online sources for old orphaned TV shows.

The TV show that sprang from the movie ultimately only ran half a season because it was up against the very popular Hawaii FIve-O. I guess a priest in San Diego could just not compete with "Book Em Danno".

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