Saturday, February 23, 2013

"The Hammer" or "Beating people to death is a bad idea."

This is the city.

This sequence is a slightly different establishing shot from last week's episode.

No, that's Universal City.

And the Universal Studios GlamorTram!

GlamorTram tours began in 1964.

And a stiff on a gurney.


Bill does his hunt-and-peck on this typewriter.

What are the haps, Policewoman Dorothy Miller?

I'll eat your cookie, lady.

The introduction of Policewoman Dorothy Miller marks an ill-fated attempt to strike up some "will-they-won't-they" between her and Joe Friday. Joe's character has always been a bachelor, and always would be. No pretty policewoman could change that. Perhaps the writers were hoping newer audiences wouldn't mind Joe having a special lady in the episodes, not just saying that he's seeing someone that we never get to see. Policewoman Dorothy Miller would be a sympathetic mate for Joe, understanding the job because she does it, too. She is revealed to be a single mother; the above cookie was baked by her young daughter. Later in the series, the guys are investigating possible child endangerment in Sherman Oaks and tap her for advice. She is explained as working with child protective services at that time. During the episode with purse-snatching dogs, her soft heart is again revealed when she adopts one of the dogs. Maybe she has too much baggage for Joe. Still, it's nice to see a pretty face.

Off to investigate! Joe & Bill's car exiting the PAB parking garage a tad recklessly.

Oh oh. Crime on the backlot.

The ambulance dominates the shot. 

Iris Grill.

Sonsi Television & Radio Repair. 17" Consol $39.95.

Under that towel, is someone that was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.
It's 1967, so showing the camera is in poor taste.

Good! I like it that way.

A Wes Anderson-esque closeup of Alex & Fred's card game tallies.

That's not a skull. That's a piggy bank.

Ralph Moody's back! He played the night watchman in S1e2.

Multicolored light bulbs in sconces, a familiar Dragnet design choice.

Multicolored light.

Milk glass lamp with brass base and yellow shade.
Blue curlers. Pink sofa. This shot has a lot going on, in Dragnet production style terms.

Frightening pea-green corridor you'll remember from when we interrogated Kent McCord together in S1e4.

They interview this guy and then this guy right after.

It confused me for a second, too.

He's a hairdresser, so that seems to be sixties TV code for gay. Plus he is wearing a fashionable ascot instead of being buttoned up and wearing a tie like Bill and Joe or even the other interviewee.

He tells the story of offering to do the perp's hair and then the perp gave him a nosebleed with a can of hairspray. Ouch!

The same set apartment as the yellow lampshade-blue-curlers-pink sofa lady above, but totally redecorated for this scene!

Wes-Andersonian closeups of paper key to catching the baddies!

And another! A torn-up telegram!

115P PST APR 10 66 DA591 HA#32 (?)
DAD (?)



I'm outta here.

THERE'S that Cutty Sark billboard!
Top left of frame as the boys drive back to Parker Center to park:

How many times did they drive that car around the block and into and out of the parking deck to make establishing shots? My guess is - we will never know.


Come on, Bill. Time to go to Arizona and nab some crooks on the lam.

It takes seven hours in the car, but the LAPD put Friday and Gannon on a plane.

Not too shabs!

Cottonwood's police cruiser, same style of Ford that Joe and Bill drive.

Okay, this Cottonwood, Arizona police station is definitely Universal City backlot.

Heya, Policewoman Dorothy Miller!

Don't let those sconces get you!

I'm an accomplice! I'll have one of your cigarettes, then blow the smoke in your face.

So trashy.

He knows he is busted, but he rattles off states and capitals correctly and incorrectly.


It's the receipt from the rent book!

Policewoman Dorothy Miller is so pretty and polished compared to that ruffian twerpy Jill Banner. 

That's right. They found you even though you were in Arizona. So serious.

There's that Wes Anderson closeup.

"What do you think this is, a bagel?"

That is her real line!

Unfortunately for her, that's not her real wedding ring. They ganked it after they murdered that guy.

Frederic Lawrence Tosca
Now awaiting execution in the state penitentiary, San Quentin, California.

Camille Gearhardt Tosca
Now serving a term of one to five years in the state penitentiary for women, Tehachapi, California.


Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Merry Anders as Policewoman Dorothy Miller
Brian Avery as Terry Ridges
Art Balinger as Captain Hugh Brown
Natalie Masters as Mrs. Ridges
Chet Stratton as Chesney Guthrie
Richard Simmons as Marcus Denner
Ralph Moody as Lou Adams
Jill Banner as Camille
James Oliver as Fred Tosca
Don Stewart as Officer Carl Goldman
Ben Chandler as Chief Everett Snoddy
Jeff Scott as Officer Chulik
Vince Williams as Ambulance Attendant

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy & Ralph Sylos
Written by Henry Irving

Aired 2 March 1967

The United States did some nuclear testing that day, so maybe it wasn't the best time to be in Arizona.
The Rolling Stones were number one with Ruby Tuesday. (Pretty neat production in that clip, squalling fans notwithstanding.) Enjoy!


  1. I thought I was going crazy for a second, but then I went to Netflix and checked. The entire scene from above with the ambulance, Iris Grill/Sonsi Television and Joe entering the cheap rundown hotel is recycled in season 4 episode 26! Even weirder, Ralph Moody appears again as the friend of the deceased (in a red sweater the second time)! Of course, recycling driving sequences, establishing shots and actors is commonplace, but an entire scene? I find this bizarre even for Dragnet! Sorry for the spoiler, I just found this too fascinating not to comment....

    1. Hi Reed,

      Season four, episode 26, you're right! It was nice of them to add Ralph Moody back in at the end of the series. He died in 1971 at age 84. He also twice plays Flavin in the Christmas episode. What a guy!

      Suzy Dragnet

  2. Smoke clears from Friday's face...
    I bet your mother has a loud bark!
    Translation: Mom's a bitch and so are you.

  3. Oh no, you're picking on Jill Banner. I remember first watching Dragnet on reruns on WPIX channel 11 in NY, probably around 1972-73-74, around that time, and I was just a kid and developed quite a yen for Jill. Didn't know her name or who she was. Figured she was a cute but obscure actress who faded into oblivion, but I liked her. Just used to call her "that spaced out Dragnet girl." And still didn't know anything about her, not even her name, until the internet came around and I was able to find out something. Not much, but something. It was pretty sad to find out she died so young, and how she died. Interesting that she was Marlon Brando's girlfriend. She was a bad girl here, but on most of her other Dragnet appearances she seemed to be a nice girl who was just confused, like in the episode she was married to Gary Crosby. And she had a big part in "Spider Baby", a weird and very popular cult horror movie from the early 60's. In that one she got to be more spaced out than she ever was on Dragnet and much badder than she was even in this episode—though in Spider Baby she couldn't help it.

    1. Know what you mean about Jill. All I knew her from as a kid was Dragnet , but, even as Camille in this episode, I wanted to see more of her.

  4. Joe did have a girlfriend on the 50s TV show, played by Dorothy Abbott. On the radio show his Mom was a character in a number of shows, played by Peggy Webber. She says that of all her work in all incarnations of Dragnet, that Joe's mom was her favorite role!

  5. Joe did have a girlfriend on the 50s TV Dragnet, played by Dorothy Abbott.

  6. I would have loved to seen Jack Webb play Dean Wormer in Animal House, a role he rejected. He would have stolen the movie. I could picture him in Airplane.

  7. Actually, CPS in LA County was not formed until 1984