THE STORY YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS TRUE...
ONLY THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT. - DRAGNET
Before N.Y.P.D. detective Lenny Briscoe ever rolled up to a crime scene in a big black Ford on Law & Order or Lieutenant Horatio Caine rocked Ray Bans rolling down Collins Avenue in Miami, Sergeant Joe Friday was keeping a world-weary but vigilant watch over those who would do evil in the city of angels.
DRAGNET was television's first police procedural. The fast paced and starkly photographed, DRAGNET was a weekly , 30 minute, NBC-TV drama that brought the blunt edge of daily police work into America's homes with the force of a sawed-off shotgun.
Jack Webb had played the cynical, hard edged, all-too-human ,Los Angeles detective on NBC radio's hit version of the show in the late 1940's, and he moved to the video version in December of 1951. Webb was, like his prolific and inventive contemporary, Desi Arnaz, one of the young mediums first "hyphenates." On Dragnet, Webb was the series star-producer-director-writer.He even delivered commercials for his sponsor, chesterfield cigarettes. Prior to the series ,Webb, was a veteran, Hollywood character actor on radio shows and in feature films, including Billy Wilder's classic SUNSET BOULEVARD.
The DRAGNET that debuted on NBC television was rooted in Webb's conviction that viewers needed to have a personal understanding of the challenges law enforcement officers face every day. While Sgt. Friday was no average Joe, he also wasn't a Supercop. Joe Friday was the policeman portrayed as everyman.Webb's DRAGNET offered a film noir vision of a dedicated and quietly competent peace officer who confronted everything from mundane misdemeanors to violent murder in the course of his sometimes tedious workday.
The show employed documentary camera techniques to give the show a distinctive look. Tight, taciturn dialog added pace and and a sense of realism to the crisply edited scenes. Webb maintained his own stock company of versatile players who supported him in the series,until it was cancelled in 1959.
Below are five clips that may give insight into DRAGNET, the series ,Jack Webb,the star and the appeal both held for the loyal, viewing audience. The first and second clips are excerpts of an episode that aired on May 22, 1953, entitled THE BIG PHONE CALL.Enjoy!!!!
In 1954,DRAGNET became the first television series to move to the big screen, when WARNER BROS. engaged Webb's MARK IV productions to produce DRAGNET, the movie.This scene shows that Joe Friday brought his sense of badge-heavy outrage to the film version of the television series.Enjoy!!!!!
In 1967, NBC-TV asked Jack Webb to revive DRAGNET as a mid-season replacement series , produced in LIVING COLOR. The show was updated so Sgt. Friday could confront the turbulent 1960's. Here is a scene from the 1/12/67 debut episode. Enjoy!!!!!
DRAGNET achieved unique status in our culture. It was often spoofed and satirized. Critics said it was a caricature of police work. In 1968, Webb joined Johnny Carson on NBC-TV'S THE TONIGHT SHOW for the ultimate take off on DRAGNET. Enjoy!!!!!!