Dragnet (1951–1959)
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The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas 

Friday and Smith search for a missing boy. The first sign that the case is serious is when blood is found. Further probing reveals the boy's parents had purchased him a .22-caliber rifle ... See full summary »


Jack Webb


James E. Moser (based on a radio play by) (as James Moser), Jack Webb (based on a radio play by)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Jack Webb ... Sgt. Joe Friday
Herbert Ellis Herbert Ellis ... Officer Frank Smith
William Johnstone William Johnstone ... John Martin (as Wm. Johnstone)
June Whitley Taylor June Whitley Taylor ... Mrs. Johnstone (as June Whitley)
Sammy Ogg Sammy Ogg ... Stanley Johnstone
Virginia Christine ... Mrs. Martin
Renny McEvoy ... Officer Doherty (as Rennie McEvoy)
Olan Soule ... Ray Pinker (as Olan Soulé)


Friday and Smith search for a missing boy. The first sign that the case is serious is when blood is found. Further probing reveals the boy's parents had purchased him a .22-caliber rifle for Christmas -- and the weapon is missing, removed from its wrapped package. Written by Bill Koenig

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


Not Rated




Release Date:

18 December 1952 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mark VII Ltd. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (shot in color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Episode is also known as A Gun For Christmas. See more »


[first lines]
Sgt. Joe Friday: This is the city. All year around it wears work clothes; on holidays it dresses up. To most people, Christmas brings happiness and prayer; to some it brings heartbreak - then my job gets tougher. I'm a cop.
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User Reviews

The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas marks an initial "Dragnet" holiday offering
4 December 2008 | by tavmSee all my reviews

Christmas cheer has been emphasized all these years on radio, television, and most especially, the movies despite attempts to have more dysfunctional families in these holiday staples recently. For "Dragnet"s initial attempt at doing a holiday episode, however, they focused on a tragedy. First done on radio taking place on the date that was also the name of the broadcast day-December 22 which was the airdate in 1949-"The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas" was later filmed for the second television season before airing on December 18, 1952. In both, Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and his partner (Barton Yarborough as Ben Romero on radio, Herb Ellis as Frank Smith on TV) investigate a missing child with blood residue and a bullet being the clues in his backyard. Another child who he played with is also later missing. I'll stop there and say besides Webb the other performer who appeared in both the radio and TV version here was William Johnstone as one of the boys' father. (Interesting note: His surname was Morheim on radio and Martin on TV.) Both versions were compellingly presented but there were some noticeable differences. Like on radio, the partner talked to one of the boys while here it's Friday meaning Ellis doesn't do much here. There's also one visual addition: as Johnstone slams his door, a Christmas ornament from a wreath falls and breaks. Most chilling in both versions is the last line from Joe: "Don't get a kid a gun for Christmas." I'm sure even the N.R.A can't disagree on that! With that said, "The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas" episode of Dragnet explores just how traumatic childhood tragedy can really be though at least here some forgiveness is visited to the parties involved...P.S. I have to mention that Olan Soule, who played Ray Pinker here, had acted on stage in my birthtown of Chicago before going on radio in 1933.

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