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Dragnet (1954).

December 4, 2009

The Scoop:
Man, I love me some “Dragnet.”

After the success of his 1940s radio series and 1950s TV series, Jack Webb brought “Dragnet,” his life’s work, to the big screen in this enjoyable adaptation. The story, involving the investigation into a gangland murder, uses the luxury of its expanded budget and running time to offer much more detail about the nitty gritty of detective work and the legal process than the television series. But the hard-boiled, straight-as-an-arrow Boy Scout spirit makes the big screen leap intact, and it positively sizzles.

Ben Alexander reprises his role as Friday’s partner Frank Smith, while Webb also directs from a script by Richard L. Breen.

This was the first of three “Dragnet” feature films. It was followed first by a color film in 1966 that paired Webb with Harry Morgan and served as the springboard for the late ’60s TV series. And then came the 1987 entry starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, which doesn’t even deserve to be considered part of the canon.

With excellent direction, the film captures some of the same mix of earnestness and cheesiness of the series, without being quite as camp as some of the 1960s TV series. Of course, by then the generation gap sparked by the counterculture was enough to make Webb’s brand of law and order seem downright outdated. But in this film, in its element, it’s still exciting stuff.

Best Bit:
Friday explains the deductions on his paycheck.

Side Note:
This was the first feature film ever spun off from TV show.

Companion Viewing:
The ’50s TV series.

Badge 714.

Take a Look:
Friday and Smith lay the smack down:

Sgt. Friday gets his $20 worth:

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