Saturday, July 6, 2013

"The Big Ad" or "Don Dubbins: Greeting card writer"

"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California.
It's a modern city. Some say it's the one of the future.
It's all electronic and computerized.

They've got computers here that can read and store 140,000 words in 2.5 microseconds.

Others that can plot probability curves for anything you care to predict in a man's life.

They can do the same for his death.
The machines can tell you that of the average 25,000 people who will die in Los Angeles this year, 

300 of them, or 82 hundredths of one percent, will die by an act of murder.

That's a small percentage. But it's one I deal with. I carry a badge."



OK! We're off to Venice with a pretty nice pan of the Fridaymobile.

OK, this set of a corridor and staircase is repainted and used in a number of episodes to represent a shady or cheap apartment. 
It looks a lot easier to frame shots than the stairway & corridor where we investigated the hammer murder

Don Dubbins' new apartment is a packed-to-the-gills beatnik-hippie-surfer explosion which is a far cry from his backlot accommodation when he was a nazi.

You can tell how much effort was put into this set. Jeepers!

Let's get down to brass tacks.

Steve Deal, I mean Don Dubbins, gets some nice dialogue:

"Well, I was broke, see? I mean dirty broke- the original plenty of nothin'."

"Well, I needed bread and I needed a chunk so I put this ad in the L.A. Happening."

Don Dubbins' new freelance gig is writing words for greeting cards. Remember Midge Daniels from Mad Men? She had a gig like that too- freelance illustration for greeting cards. She also had a studio apartment that was ...not great.

Captain Balinger advises the guys to follow through, but not accidentally trap Anthony Eisely and blow the potential case. It all has to be very careful so that the bad guy doesn't do the murder.

They are still using the backdrop with the non-moving cars.

The L.A. Happening - What's that?
"One of those way out hippie newspapers that comes out once a week. Full of weird ads and against everything. Especially cops."

I'm pretty sure Dragnet is aping The L.A. Free Press

Open City, which published from 1967 to 1969 is another example of underground journalism in L.A. concurrent with Dragnet.

I'm pretty sure that Dragnet's 'Happening' is really just the Freep.

Other cities had their version of the Freep, so genericizing it keeps it relatable from a production standpoint.

ALRIGHT! Let's nab a crushingly handsome baddy.  

California License
Driver W 748708
Stephen Deal
2367 Buccaneer

Expires on birthday 1969
Issued in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Code, etc.

Social Security
Account Number 510-14-4720 has been established for Stephen Deal
For Social Security and Tax Purposes - Not for identification.

Don's acting is really cute like Ginsberg's on Mad Men. 

Smokin' Joe! We haven't had a Smokin' Joe for a while.

9:00 - Joe parks the 1960 Ford wagon 2.6 miles up Beverly Glen from Sunset Boulevard.

I really dig the topography of Los Angeles- lots of familiar names on this piece of the Google Map:

He has to wait in the wagon for twenty minutes, then drive to Mulholland and go .7 miles and park. 

The cars don't move behind Anthony, looks like another reverse-projection shot. Compare with the above long shots of the cars by the roadside. Studio lighting on the closeups is the giveaway.

Oh, Anthony, you're so handsome. Easily Dragnet's best-looking bad guy.

Fourteen hours on telephone watch.

Joe exiting a typical spot on New York Street:

(Once again, you know it's backlot because the windows are dressed uniformly and the lighting is the same, but it's a short shot, so we aren't supposed to notice.

Then handsome Anthony Eisley will appear from the shrubbery on cue. I love it.

Great snippet of reverse projection!


Some real locations. No idea where.

Joe walks up to the door...
And it's very nearly Blue Boy's mother's house inside.

Forrester House:

Blue Boy's House:

There's too much detail in the woodwork. This can't be backlot. It has to be a location.
Or else it's a backlot recycled from a film. Any ideas?


What's up, Alfred Shelley? I can't figure out who she is, either.

Harvey Forrester

is now serving his sentence in the state prison, Chino, California.


Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Don Dubbins as Steve Deal
Anthony Eisley as Harvey Forrester, Dragnet's most handsome criminal.
Art Balinger as Captain Brown
Alfred Shelly as officer that calls the photog.
______ as Mrs. Forrester

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant
Written by Charles A. McDaniel

Aired 9 November 1967

In other news,
I'm late to the punch this week. I had to do some traveling and amassed upwards of fifty insect bites. Itchy times.


  1. I always thought that it was Virginia Gregg playing Mrs. Forrester.

  2. The shots of them driving along the coast to Venice - with a bridge in the background! - cracked me up. I always got the impression Friday worked downtown. Did they move Parker Center down to Long Beach for this episode? Even in the 60s, from downtown LA, it'd be a straight shot down the 10 to Santa Monica, and then head south on a surface street to get to Venice. Apparently, Jack "Stickler-for-Detail" Webb didn't think locals would notice!

    1. Good eye, Ted!
      It is a nice pan, I don't think they actually recycle that footage again, but of course we will keep a vigilant look out for it.

      What is Venice like nowadays? Is it a happenin' place to be?
      Suzy Dragnet

    2. Venice is a nasty, overpriced, yuppified, hipster shithole.

    3. Tell us what you REALLY think!

  3. I remember 1966 when, on a Sunday evening, my parents and I would drive down Sunset Strip to look at the freaks. Some of them were walking around in the street, selling magazines. We never bought one.

    That bubbly paperweight on the desk in the last shot? We have one just like it except it's blue.

  4. I really want to make an interactive google map thing of all the addresses they give in all the episodes.

    Also, that handwritten note — almost all the handwritten stuff in the whole series is Jack Webb’s very characteristic writing. That one isn’t. I’m looking it over and thinking it might actually also be his, just done in a different style. It has the right sort of proportions and evenly weighted strokes. Hmmm...