“Why does the law always work for the guilty?”
Sergeant Joe Friday (Jack Webb), Officer Frank Smith (Ben Alexander), and undercover Officer Grace Downey (Ann Robinson) of the LAPD investigate the brutal murder of a bookie (Dub Taylor), committed by a known criminal (Stacy Harris) who others in his syndicate are trying to protect.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
The primary reason to check out this earnest police procedural — notable as the first feature film to be based on a television series — is to get a sense of what the enormously popular show (produced, directed by, and starring Jack Webb) is all about. Unfortunately, while competently filmed, Dragnet hasn’t held up well as entertainment: it’s overly didactic, relies far too heavily on fast-paced dialogue (its original roots as a radio series are evident), and will seem simplistic to modern audiences who already have an insider’s view of police investigations from numerous other shows and movies. Since this is essentially a colorized, extended version of the T.V. show — interspersed with occasionally creative but mostly awkward scenes meant for 3-D that never materialized — I recommend checking out an episode of the show first (on YouTube) to see if this is your cup of tea.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some creative direction
No, unless you’re a “Dragnet” fan. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.