Category Archives: Jack Webb

Blu-Ray News #282-A: Dragnet (1954).

Directed by Jack Webb
Starring Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Richard Boone, Ann Robinson, Stacy Harris, Virginia Gregg, Victor Perrin, Georgia Ellis, James Griffith, Dennis Weaver, Dub Taylor

Update: Kino Lorber has announced a November 17 release date for their Blu-Ray of the 1954 Dragnet feature. They’ve also provided some info about what’s coming.

Special Features and Technical Specs:
• Audio Commentary by Toby Roan
• Theatrical Trailer
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

When you do one of these commentaries, of course, you end up going through the movie many, many times. You can get kinda sick of it by the time you’re through. Not with this one. There was always a rant from Jack Webb, a cool LA location or something around the corner to look forward to. It never got old. 

It’s easy to recommend this one, and if you get it, I encourage you to stick to the 1.75 widescreen version. It gives it a fresh, crisp look — and it’s what Webb and DP Edward Colman were going for. Highly, highly recommended.


Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Webb, James H. Griffith, Kino Lorber, Television, Warner Bros.

Dialogue Of The Day: Dragnet 1967.

Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb): “Flinch, and you’ll be chasing your head down Fifth Street!”

From the Dragnet 1967 episode “The Shooting.” My God, I love Jack Webb!

And if anybody cares, that’s an Ithaca 37 Deer Slayer Police Special shotgun.


Filed under 1967, Dialogue Of The Day, Jack Webb, Television

Blu-Ray News #282: Dragnet (1954).

Directed by Jack Webb
Starring Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Richard Boone, Ann Robinson, Stacy Harris, Virginia Gregg, Victor Perrin, Georgia Ellis, James Griffith, Dennis Weaver, Dub Taylor

A friend and I were talking a couple months ago about the movies we really wanted to see on Blu-Ray. That’s the kind of thing movie geeks do to pass the time. Well, I put the 1954 Dragnet feature in my top spot, and Kino Lorber has announced it for Blu-Ray later this year. You can imagine how stoked I am.

aadrag10This movie’s got everything that makes the original Dragnet TV show so perfect, only more of it. The same no-nonsense style (with a few camera moves here and there), the same character actors and the same Joe Friday (Jack Webb) talking smack to every crook he comes across. There’s more violence (Dub Taylor gets shot in the face before the WB shield even shows up!), widescreen, WarnerColor and a majestic version of the theme song from the Warner Bros. orchestra. This is one of my favorite movies, and the old DVD is atrocious.

UPDATE (2/12/2020) — I will have the extreme privilege of doing a commentary for this one. It may present the film in both 1.37 and 1.75 aspect ratios. It was a very early non-anamorphic widescreen film.


Filed under 1954, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Webb, James H. Griffith, Warner Bros.

Screening: Dragnet (1954).

Directed by Jack Webb
Starring Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Richard Boone, Ann Robinson, Stacy Harris, Virginia Gregg, Victor Perrin, Georgia Ellis, James Griffith, Dub Taylor

Noir City: Hollywood – The 20th Annual Los Angeles Festival Of Film Noir is presenting one of my all-time favorite films on the 18th, Jack Webb’s 1954 feature version of Dragnet. I can’t tell you how much I love this movie. The DVD is a rather ugly, full-frame mess, making the chance to see it on the big screen, on film, an even greater treat. And Ann Robinson, who plays a lady officer, will be there for a discussion after the movie.

Wednesday, April 18, 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028

And if Dragnet wasn’t cool enough, the festival’s also got Armored Car Robbery (1950) in its lineup on the 16th. Another one of those times when I live on the wrong side of the country.


Filed under 1954, Jack Webb, James H. Griffith, Screenings, Television, Warner Bros.

Dialogue Of The Day: Adam-12 (1968).


From the first episode of Adam-12, “The Impossible Mission,” which was actually directed by Jack Webb.

Pete Malloy (Martin Milner): “This black and white patrol car has an overhead valve V-8 engine. It develops 325 horsepower at 4800 RPMs. It accelerates from zero to 60 in seven seconds. It has a top speed of 120 miles an hour. It’s equipped with a multi-channeled DFE radio and an electronic siren capable of admitting three variables: wail, yelp and alert. It also serves as an outside radio speaker and public address system. The automobile has two shotgun racks, one attached to the bottom portion of the front seat, one in the vehicle trunk. Attached to the middle of the dash, illuminated by a single bulb is a hot sheet desk. Fastened to which you will always make sure is the latest one off the teletype before you ever roll.”

Felt like we were overdue for some Jack Webb. By the way, the patrol car Malloy’s referring to (and leaning on) is a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere.

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Filed under Dialogue Of The Day, Jack Webb, Kent McCord, Martin Milner, Television

Martin Milner, RIP.

Martin Milner
December 28, 1931 – September 6, 2015

I grew up watching Jack Webb’s Adam-12. It taught me that cops were cool, and that they had a really tough job. It also showed me they were regular people, dealing with the same things all people do, and that you could go to them when you needed help.

Sure, it was just a TV show. But Martin Milner, as Officer Pete Malloy, made it very real to me. He passed away this week, and I hope the LAPD makes a really big deal out of it. He deserves it. And I hope his passing makes people remember Adam-12 — and that cops are cool.

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Filed under Jack Webb, Martin Milner, Television

Just A Reminder.

Reed and Malloy

Cops are cool.

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Filed under Jack Webb, Television

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Bloggers’ Choice Award.

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

Kinda hate to see this Jack Webb thing come to an end. I’ve really enjoyed it. The posts were great, the bloggers were so nice, my wife and daughter got to participate, and I simply can’t get enough of Jack Webb.

The way the Bloggers’ Choice thing worked, everyone who posted sent in their favorite of all the posts that appeared over the weekend. The one with the most votes won. It’s that simple.

And the winner was Caftan Woman and her piece on Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955). She got me even more stoked for the upcoming Blu-ray from Warner Archive. The post on the Pete Kelly’s Blues radio show, over at Once Upon A Screen, was also a favorite.


I’ve got a few ideas for other blogathons, and will get around to those before too long. I’ve learned a few things on this one which should make it go a bit smoother.

To everyone who wrote something or read something, a great big thanks.



Filed under 1955, Blogathon, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Warner Archive

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Behind The Badge.

Webb behind badge

This post is part of The Jack Webb Blogathon, a celebration of his huge, and hugely influential, body of work. For more Webb on the web, appearing October 17-19, visit Dispatch (or click on the banner below).

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

As The Jack Webb Blogathon comes to a close, here’s some interesting trivia about Jack Webb and his work.

In lieu of compensation for assistance and information, what did Jack Webb’s Mark VII Production Company do for the Los Angeles Police Department?
The Company made generous contributions to the Los Angeles Police Orphans and Widows Fund.

How did Dragnet get the stories as basis for their episodes?
Through an arrangement with the Los Angeles Police Department, an officer wrote up a three-page report void of names and intimate details. Dragnet writers filled in the blanks and wrote a story around it. They were not given access to actual police files.

Where did the number 714 come from on the famous badge?
Jack Webb thought 7 was a lucky number. The television series began in 1949 and Webb thought badges issued in the 700s was way in the future for police. So, he choose 7 as the first number and just doubled it for the last numbers – 14.

Mark VII Productions, Inc. was Jack Webb’s production company. What is the meaning behind the logo that can be seen at the end of Dragnet episodes (iron door with a hand pounding the Roman numerals with a hammer)?
Jack Webb “stole” the idea from Arm & Hammer baking soda. He said he liked the look of it as a kid. The door to him also meant strength. The VII for 7 was probably, again, use of his lucky number.


Jack Webb used a real badge and revolver during the first run of Dragnet. What happened to those items after the show ended and what did he use for a badge and revolver in the new Dragnet show?
When the show ended in 1958, he returned the official, registered items to the LA Police Department, which had issued them to Webb for the show. He got them back from the Police Department for the new Dragnet show.

What Emergency! regular doubled for Jack Webb’s Joe Friday character in long shots on the original Dragnet?
Marco Lopez. He also had small parts on Dragnet, as well. He admitted that he liked to cook while on that show and the cast and crew got to partake in his hobby to their delight. This led to the fully-equipped kitchen at the firehouse on Emergency! — he could not only be a regular on the show, but keep on cookin’.

Which actor did Jack Webb want as Sgt. Joe Friday in the original series, but reluctantly took the role himself, when it didn’t pan out?
Lloyd Nolan, best known for his acting roles portraying private detectives Michael Shayne and Martin Kane.

In 1953, a famous movie producer friend and his wife sold their house to Jack Webb, so they could be closer to a park for their son. Who was this producer and what special thing did they do to the house to sell it to him?
Stanley Kramer. He and his wife replaced the doorbell with one that played “dum-da-dum-dum.”

What was the “Jack Webb Special?”
A deluxe, chartered airplane provided by Warner Brothers for Webb’s cross-country tour promoting Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955). It had an eight-person crew, dining room, bedroom and even a conference room.

Speaking of Pete Kelly’s Blues, Herm Saunders played the pianist. What was his relationship to Jack Webb in real life?
At the time, he was Webb’s press agent.


Jack Webb directing Martin Milner and Kent McCord in the Adam-12 pilot.

How did Ozzie Nelson (of Ozzie And Harriet fame) come to direct a segment in an episode of Adam-12?
Nelson phoned Webb and requested the assignment. He said he wanted to work with his old family friend Kent McCord again. (As you may remember, McCord was a regular on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.) Nelson did such an impressive job, he was asked to direct the episode called “The D.A.”

Jack Webb turned down the chance to make a movie, which lead to great animosity between the guy who wrote the story for the movie and Kent McCord. Who was the author, what was the movie and why all the hostility?
Joseph Wambaugh wrote The New Centurions, among other books about police like The Onion Field and The Blue Knight. He also created and advised on the television show Police Story. After Webb declined to do The New Centurions, according to McCord, Wambaugh set out to tarnish the badges of Jack Webb and his Adam-12. In interviews, Wambaugh would misquote McCord, trash the show’s acting and call into question the realism of the characters they portray. McCord was hot under the collar about Wambaugh’s mouthing off and was quoted as saying: “He spends his days sitting on his rear and reading burglary reports. I think he‘s out of touch with the guys who patrol the streets,” and “He shouldn’t be telling me how to act. I don’t give him advice on how to read burglary reports.” He also didn‘t like how Wambaugh‘s police characters were “jerks“ or “petty criminals,” which of course was an insult itself to Jack Webb’s style. McCord went on to say about Wambaugh, “If he had anything to say he could tell it to my face or I’d punch him in the face,” and “I’m tired of picking up newspapers and magazines and seeing Wambaugh rap me. If he keeps it up I’m going to rap him.”

Hopefully, this blogathon has you wanting to see more Jack Webb, or better yet, own it. (I can’t wait to revisit The D.I.) Here’s where you can get the stuff written about over the weekend. Physical evidence, I guess you could say.

Dragnet (TV, 1951-59)
Public domain episodes are available from various companies. Quality varies from pretty darn good to absolutely wretched. You can also find some on YouTube and Roku.

Dragnet (Feature, 1954)
Available from Universal’s Vault program. If I didn’t consider this movie absolutely essential to life as a human, I’d tell you to wait till it was redone, preferably for Blu-ray.

Dragnet (TV, 1967-70)
You’ll find Dragnet on MeTV and Hulu Plus, along with Adam-12 and Emergency! They’re also on DVD from Shout Factory, complete with some really terrific extras, including the 1966 TV movie.

He Walked By Night (1948)
Several DVD sources for this one. Stay away from Alpha, and you’ll be OK.

Dark City (1950)
This is available on DVD from Olive Films—and in the same Blu-ray noir set as Appointment With Danger.

Appointment With Danger (1951)
Olive Films has brought this to DVD as a stand-alone disc and on Blu-ray as part of a film noir set.

Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)
Warner Brothers brought this out on DVD, and Warner Archive recently announced a Blu-ray. Can’t wait.

The D.I. (1957)
You can get this one on DVD from Warner Archive (and you should).

-30- (1959)
Again, our friends at Warner Archive can set you up with this one on DVD.

SOURCES: Various newspapers, 1954-1976
Thanks to my wife Jennifer for researching and writing the trivia stuff.


Filed under 1951, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, DVD/Blu-ray News, Harry Morgan, Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Kent McCord, Martin Milner, MeTV, Olive Films, Shout/Scream Factory, Television, Warner Archive

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Dragnet (1954).

Dragnet LC 1 dubb
Director: Jack Webb
Producer: Stanley D. Meyer
Screenplay: Richard L. Breen
Cinematography: Edward Colman
Editing: Robert M. Leeds
Art Direction: Feild M. Gray
Original Music: Walter Schumann, Miklos Rozsa

Cast: Jack Webb (Sgt. Joe Friday), Ben Alexander (Officer Frank Smith), Richard Boone (Capt. James Hamilton), Ann Robinson (Officer Grace Downey), Stacy Harris (Max Troy), Virginia Gregg (Ethel Starkie), Victor Perrin (Deputy DA Adolph Alexander), Georgia Ellis (Belle Davitt), James Griffith (Jesse Quinn), Dick Cathcart (Roy Cleaver), Malcom Atterbury (Lee Reinhard), William Sage (Chester Davitt), Olan Soulé (Ray Pinker), Dennis Weaver (Capt. R.A. Lohrman), Dub Taylor (Miller Starkie).

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR
This post is part of The Jack Webb Blogathon, a celebration of his huge, and hugely influential, body of work. For more Webb on the web, appearing October 17-19, visit Dispatch (or click on the banner above).

Dragnet (1954) was the first theatrical film spun off from a TV show. The Lone Ranger would follow in 1956. (Later, it would seem that Hollywood didn’t know how to do anything else.)

Dub Taylor is shot in the face with a sawed-off shotgun, THEN the Warner Bros. logo comes up. My case for why this is one of the coolest movies ever made could stop right there. But there’s still 85 minutes left, and we haven’t seen Jack Webb.

The familiar badge (#714) and type appear over the blue-ish L.A. sky–a dozen years before the red backdrop we know so well. The iconic theme is played by the full Warner Bros. orchestra. Big, loud, majestic. Goosebump City.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 10.54.42 PM

Dragnet does exactly what you’d expect it to do: dish up all the stuff you like about the show, stirring in the things TV couldn’t offer: more violence, color and thanks to the extra running time, a little nuance here and there. And widescreen—Dragnet was one of the first films shot to be projected at 1.75:1. Warners wanted CinemaScope, but Webb resisted.

But back to our story. Sgt. Joe Friday (Webb) and officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) get a rundown on the case from Capt. Hamilton (Richard Boone).

Capt. James Hamilton (Richard Boone): “Shotgun, extreme close range. Recovered 22 pellets double-O. Starkie was hit four times. First two cut him in half.”
Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb): “Second two turned him into a crowd.”

Turns out Miller Starkie (Dub Taylor) was involved with some real lowlifes, who are brought in for questioning. One of them is Max Troy (Stacy Harris).

Dragnet Troy

Max Troy (Stacy Harris): “This gonna take long?”
Sgt. Joe Friday: “You’ve got the time.”
Max Troy: “Mine’s worth money, yours isn’t!”
Sgt. Joe Friday: “Send in a bill.”
Max Troy: “I asked you a question!”
Sgt. Joe Friday: “You’re here to answer ’em, not ask ’em!”
Max Troy: “Now, listen to me, Cop. I pay your salary.”
Sgt. Joe Friday: “All right, sit down. I’m gonna earn it.”
Max Troy: “You already have, the kind of money you make. What do they pay you to carry that badge around, 40 cents an hour?”
Sgt. Joe Friday: “You sit down! That badge pays 464 dollars a month. That’s what the job’s worth. I knew that when I hired on. $67.40 comes out with withholding. I give $27.84 for pension and 12 bucks for widows and orphans. That leaves me with $356.76. That badge is worth a dollar 82 an hour so Mister, better settle back into that chair because I’m about to blow about 20 bucks of it right now.”

That’s about as far as I’m gonna go with the synopsis. As you’d guess, everything plays out in typical Dragnet procedural fashion. With one exception: we know who the killers are from the very beginning. In the series, we’re always in the dark as we go through the investigation with Friday.

You’ll see lots of cigarette smoking in Dragnet (the MPAA would probably call it “historic smoking” today), with some Chesterfield product placement thrown in for good measure.

Dragnet Stacy ashtray

There’s some pretty inventive camerawork, too, something you rarely see in the TV show. Cinematographer Edward Colman also shot some of the TV episodes, and it looks like he and Webb (below) really enjoyed the feature’s artistic elbow room. But where the move to theaters really pays off is the luxury of time, as Webb lets the characters breathe a bit more.


Jack Webb: “26 minutes doesn’t permit enough time to develop character, plot and to tell a complete story of Joe Friday… In the full-length movie… we can play out a scene to its full emotional value.”

Richard L. Breen’s script was completed in March of 1954, and casting got underway in April. Many of the familiar faces from TV were signed on. There’s a yellow eyewitness played by the great James Griffith. Virginia Gregg has a terrific scene as Dub Taylor’s boozy widow. Stacy Harris, as he’d done so many times on TV, appears as one of the crooks.

Ann Robinson, who’d appeared in The War Of The Worlds the year before,  was cast as a policewoman who goes undercover to aid Friday and Smith. Webb made sure she spent a day at the police academy, training with female cadets.

Ann Robinson: “Jack was very thorough and wanted everything to be exactly as if I were a real policewoman.”

Shooting began May 3, 1954, using the teleprompter that helped keep the TV show on schedule and on budget. Dragnet wrapped in just 24 days at a cost of about half a million bucks. It made over four million in its first run.

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 12.19.52 AM

I was barely familiar with the TV show when I saw this feature as a kid—and it really knocked me out. Everything about it was stark and hard-hitting, and everyone had such cool things to say. The 16mm print the TV station ran was appropriately gritty and the WarnerColor was, well, Warner Color. I loved every frame of it, and it became my gateway drug to crime pictures of the same period and eventually to film noir. Next stop: Charles McGraw.

Dragnet is available on DVD from the Universal Vault program. (Universal owns the entire Dragnet franchise.) It’s a serviceable transfer, but that’s being polite. There’s no widescreen framing, things are a bit soft, and the WarnerColor’s still WarnerColor. But it’s there and you can buy it and live a better life because of it. Highly recommended.

NOTE: As I was working on this post, I read that there was a fire at Ann Robinson’s Elysian Park home just the other day. She wasn’t hurt.

SOURCES: Various newspaper articles from 1954; My Name’s Friday by Michael J. Hayde


Filed under 1954, Jack Webb, Television