Friday, March 7, 2014

Dragnet Repilot - "Back for the first time." 1966 vs. 1969

The only place that I could easily find WPD66 was a pretty good YouTube upload, so I harvested the screen captures from there. This is why they look so lamentable. There are still a lot of production variation between this introductory Dragnet movie and our current John E. Chilberg, II season three production style. Yes, we travel back in time to 1966 in the middle of January 1969. Think of all the things that changed in America between 1966 and 1969.

Additionally, brace yourself for the following:

Joe Friday in a sweater vest.

Bill Gannon smokes a cigarette.

Hold on to your hat - because Olan Soule is not only back, but is wearing one.

And we're off!

First stop: Parker Center with an unorthodox monologue:

"It was Thursday, January 25th. It was overcast in Los Angeles.
Before I went on vacation, I was working the day watch out of homicide.
I was due back in three days. My name's Friday. I'm a cop."

Joe's Ford Falcon.

Bluish silver.

The parking kiosk as we have seen many times in season one driving sequences.

Joe never went on to talk to the kiosk attendant in the series.

Does anyone know any of the cars in the shots?
You all have helped me a lot in the past!

Jack also looks particularly happy in the premiere.

Heck yeah I'm happy! Dragnet in color!

Witness the magic of true location shooting.

N O    P A R K I N G

Walking up to the Police Administration Building like this showcases the ground condition.
Modernist architects catch flack for making spaces like this sometimes. 
What it's really best at (other than sheltering) is framing a view at each bay, as we see above.
There's a hulking modern structure overhead, but you only sense the enormity as you look around and focus on all the things around the property's periphery.
As a student of architecture, I think its cool.

Here's PAB Green - we will see a lot of it, we have seen a lot of it.
Particularly throughout seasons one and two. That's Dragnet's 'Russell Kimball' epoch.

This is the ultimate realism for which Dragnet was known.
It permeated the style like this institutional green paint.

Serious business.

Looking through these doors is something we have done before on the Dragnet sound stages.

Really love how tidily everything is pinned to the cork boards.

"We're up to our navels, Joe."

"I'm just here to pick up my mail."

Bill has a toothache. He has a belly full of ulcers.
Poor guy. That's weak. 

The Bill Gannon that we got to know for two and a half seasons doesn't quite resemble the Bill in the Dragnet movie. Harry Morgan is playing Bill for the first time.

That's the last time you get to be Captain Hugh Brown. Everybody knows that part rightfully belongs to Art Balinger or possibly Art Gilmore.

(The blackish thing on the wall at left of frame is an old thermostat.)

All of these sound stages would probably have been made especially for this pilot.
In this frame, we are looking out from the sixth floor; between the curtain panels, at the new backdrop  of downtown L.A. 

Check out the framing, though. The Russians are on the left, LAPD brass on the right, and they use two big curtain panels to visually divide and organize the frame.

Someone's visiting L.A. from the USSR

Art Balinger!

Bill Gannon's dental student nephew, Melvin:

Everyone's using the elevator!

Here's a PAB exit sequence from season one:

Joe going back to his place to gear up for his now-ended vacation fails to show his apartment.
Which is fine. It gets its own episode.

Service revolver goes here. (And what a skinny belt!)

Gannon gives Joe a folder full of information regarding a lurid missing persons case.

Bill takes his usual role of driving, as he would continue throughout most of the series.
This is the first reverse projection driving sequence. It's pretty long.

They are working really hard to exemplify ultimate realism.
Joe speaks more in police officer parlance in this film compared to where we are in season three.

Next stop: Colonial Street. 

Bobby Troup!

Bobby saw the photography enthusiast briefly when he took his sister's gloves to her in the car.
They even fill out her story - she was married, but her husband perished in Vietnam. She also has a daughter. So tragic.

Next, back to Parker Center.

Joe smokes while they banter and go through the files.

I don't think this driving sequence gets repeated, but dig that Googie style sign at the far left of the frame. Good stuff!

Somewhere along Colonial street, for sure, right?

Adam and Eve Ltd.
"Why be lonely?"

Our first location is bunk. 6th & Melrose doesn't exist, but I think they were trying to go for "sketchy" because skid row is a block away on Fifth. The set looks really nice, though, so who knows?

I recognize this sound stage, don't you?
 It's so cute as a lonely hearts club.

Balloon lady.

Welcome to the Garden of Eden

Ribbon lady.

Carol Byron! She reminds me of Enid Coleslaw with those glasses.

Who's the boss?

Virginia Gregg.

10309 White Oak Canyon Road - Doesn't seem to exist these days, but it may have gone the way of Georgia Street Juvenile.

For Sale 
Castle Realty

There seems too be too much messiness in the White Oak Canyon sequence.

Bill is smoking! See for yourself!

Spooky Harry Bartel plays a police artist instead of a detective or scientific type.

Virginia Gregg is such a jerk to this Hector Garcia.
Joe gets to zing her, though.

"Tell me, Sergeant, you don't pay this artist of yours very much, do you?"

"No, ma'am. He's a police officer."

After that, I think Virginia lightens up on him.

Back to Parker Center.

If you want a summary of Dragnet 66-70 in a single frame, I think this will do it:

They are using a pneumatic tube to transport these request forms:

Go go Oldowon tech!

Apparently this lady's hand is pushing the buttons in the following sequence:

We have already seen the cards cycle 3-4 times in Dragnet thus far.

Now you know where that sequence originated!

John Sebastian


Ok, it's getting late, time to get back to the party.

Carol Byron got a costume change!
Her earlier scene had her in tartan, now she's in brown.
That's odd, because she's at work and it's the same day, right?

"Was there ever really a Tommy Dorsey?"

Friday, January 26th, Joe is back on the trail of a murderer.

They are still eschewing louvers and you can see the background photo in the top right of this frame:

Jack Ragotzy's use of "the n word" gets Joe to counter by letting out a scripted "damn."

John Roseboro:

Watson from Personnel:

On the road again: Dogtown - which Joe says got its name from a dog pound that occupied the area.


Olan Soule in a hat! We missed you!

A soupy helicopter shot we won't see again at about the :40 mark.

Smokin' Joe.

Dragnet is aping Conrad Hilton's eccentricity in running luxe hotels.

We can do the math - 1200 rooms x 4 ash trays per room = 4800 books of matches on top of what's in the bowl and the cocktail lounge and…. and….

Hey! It's Kent McCord!

I bet in 1966, he had no idea that he was going to be 1/2 of a seven season long cop show.
He wasn't even called Kent McCord yet. He was still going by his old name.

Let's hop up to the ninth floor and figure out who our dead guy really is.


And hold the dead girl mystery. We have to get our hearts broken by some French expatriates at 4629 Foster Avenue. There's a Foster in real life; it's in Baldwin Park.

Roger Til and Gerald Michenaud.

He offers the guys his brother's passport and explains why he now goes by William Smith.
He is stoked to become an American citizen and changed his name from Whatever Laborg to Smith.
Joe sweetly calls back to his old partner called Smith (Frank Smith played by Ben Alexander & Herbert Ellis) from the black and white series.

Everything in this set is brooding color, wood, and lots of patterns.

What's up, kid? We're about to ruin your life.

Yep. Poor little guy. At least he has a cool uncle.

Oy chaval.

Next up - more establishing footage of parking at Parker Center.

Let's check in at Cafe Rue De La Paix - an awning on a back lot.

An awning with a hillbilly-style valet - 

"A nineteen and fifty-nine Buick sword!"

Eddie Firestone & Herb Ellis

For loudmouth pill head bums, their pad is pretty all right.

Reverse projection driving to the Princess Pat hotel for a DB.

DB means Dead Body.

Fireproof. Sleep in safety.

This is the fourth missing model:

Her story is no less tragic than the other three missing persons.

Check out her digs:

Don Ross playing the role he was born for - Latent prints!

We're almost done. Just about to catch up with Vic Perrin.
Gannon notes that the market where the candy bars were purchased was on Kelso street, and there is a Kelso street in real life between LAX and Downtown Los Angeles; it's in Inglewood.

Nice old 76 station with the rotating ball:

They used to be seriously everywhere, now there may be one left.

The new Joe Friday In Color is a "supercop" who can work for thirteen hours investigating and then scale a 90' cliffside in the pouring rain, beat up Vic Perrin, and rescue a teardrop trailer from falling over said cliff. On the way up, Joe's legs get buried by rocks, even.
He does it all in the rain and in a sweater vest.

Were these pictures too lurid for 1966?
I wonder why it took two and a half seasons of Dragnet to broadcast this pilot.

Three out of three cases solved.
Murder of four photo models, murder of a French expat, murder at the Princess Pat.
Murder, murder, murder. Good grief.

The epilogue comes along almost nine months later - 



Starred (Credited):
Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Vic Perrin as Don Negler
Virginia Gregg as Mrs. Kruger
Gene Evans as Captain Hugh Brown
John Roseboro as Sergeant Dave Bradford ("If the department doesn't question the color of his skin, you damn well see that you don't.")
Bobby Troup as George Freeman
Tom Williams as Melvin Gannon
Jack Ragotzy as Carl Rockwell (racist, pedophile, rapist)
Roger Til as William Smith
Gerald Michenaud as Claude LaBorg
Bruce Watson as Freddie (Car park attendant)
Herb Ellis as Ricky Markell
Eddie Firestone as Max Shelton
Elizabeth Rogers as Eve Sorenson

Additional Cast (Uncredited):
______ as Johnny from the PAB parking kiosk
Art Balinger as Inspector Ed Walker
______ as George Beck (Captain of Central Division)
______ as Ray Rudell from TED
______ & ______ as NKVD advance security agents ("Nyet!")
______ as Russian Interpreter
______ as Donna Wilson (first missing photo model)
______ as Jean Barrows (second missing photo model)
Thordis Brandt as Carol Freeman (third missing model)
Carol Byron as lonely hearts clipboard lady
______ as lonely hearts club balloon lady
______ as lonely hearts club ribbon lady
______ as White Oak Canyon Road newspaper/bathrobe man
______ as White Oak Canyon Road multicolored shirt lady
Harry Bartel as Police artist Jim Murdock
______ as Police artist Hector Garcia
______ as Ruth the card file lady with blonde bouffant
______ as Central Division officer
John Sebastian as Sergeant Danny Mendez
______ as "Adam" that likes prunes
______ as  "Eve" that doesn't know "that" Johnson
John Nolan as "Adam" with mustache
______ as "Adam" with white hair, mustache, and beard
Sara Selby as "Eve" with titian hair that introduces Joe to Elizabeth Rogers
______ as Mr. Rodman (He played Paul Carter.)
Jody Gilbert as "Eve" that wants to win the trip to Catalina
______ as Blonde guy with guitar ("You bet your bird.")
______ as Watson from Personnel
______ as Deputy Coroner
______ as Officer Bailey
______ as other Dogtown officer
Olan Soule as Wayne
______ as Dean
______ as Hollywood Kingsley Hotel desk clerk
Kent McCord as Brewster the junior desk clerk
______ & ______ as Officers that take Herb Ellis and Eddie Firestone downtown
______ as Detective Harry Hansen
Alfred Shelly as Detective McCready
______ as Pete the Police photographer
______ as Betty Mason (fourth missing photo model)
Don Ross as Bill from Latent Prints
______ as Betty Mason's landlady
______ as Fred the market clerk
______ as Bob (white shirt)
______ as Norman (yellow raincoat)
______ as Oliver Crawford (trailer park manager)
______ as Lady in trailer next door
______ as Subdivision entrepreneur
Dennis McCarthy as Reporter
______ as Perp with tattoo
______ as Central Receiving doctor

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy and George Henshaw
Costumes - Vincent Dee

Aired 27 January 1969, filmed in 1966.

Written by Richard L. Breen

Wavy wavy wavy wavy wavy wavy,
Suzy Dragnet


  1. Suzy - I learned how to drive in a 1963 Ford Falcon. Pretty basic car. Stick shift. And it had a hand choke which you would pull out a little bit to add gas to the carbeurator when the engine was cold and then push it back it when engine warmed up so as not to flood it. I know it sounds like a Model T. It was my fathers car. I think the station wagon might be a 1957 Chevy Nomad. The one with the fins. Your examination of the movie is fascinating. I may be back with more comments if you don't mind. KennyP

  2. Small bit of trivia. I'm pretty sure I'm right. Jack Webb was married to singer/actress Julie London in early 50s. They divorced and she then married Bobby Troupe who wrote one of her big hits "Girl Talk." Kenny

  3. Tom Williams(Gannon's nephew) later became producer of Adam 12 and was on all Webb shows!This one had them all but Peggy Webber.The Capt George Beck mentioned is the father of current LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.At the time,the LAPD was still using the old red color ID cards,called the "Flash Gordon" card by the long time members of the LAPD.When Joe and Bill show them,they always show the back of the card rather than the front due to Joe's picture is still circa 1952 on the ID.By 1967,they moved to the blue color ID cards.I have them all if you want to see them!

  4. Joe in serious need of Woolite by the denouement! Loved seeing the pneumatic tube, too. One quibble with the wardrobe people: the Russians' suits look too good for that era.

  5. To some, Dogtown continues to be the nickname for Venice, California.

  6. Hello Suzy,
    I don't think it was the "lurid" bondage photos that may have contributed to the execs holding back the film, I think it was the opening sequence. It started with a gorgeous panning night time shot of LA, panning over a rock wall and finally settling on a pretty blonde (Thordis Brandt, uncredited) all tied up, gagged and struggling. We see the intended killer prepping his movie camera and focusing it on our bound heroine (who pleads through her gag) as he gets ready to start in on his own home made snuff film. He stretches a length of rope in his hands and slowly walks towards her.
    Some TV stations actually cut that sequence from the film as it was being rerun over the years. When Shout Factory released the film on DVD, they used one of the TV prints with the missing sequence. That YouTube video you got the stills from also has the sequence missing. Shout Factory has since corrected that (least that's what I was told). And anyone who has a DVD with the missing sequence can write to them and they would ship a new disc with the complete film.

    1. This is how th3e film really begins:

  7. My apologies for the double post. I didn't think the first one got thru. I'm afraid I'm not very computer savvy!

    1. It's OK- After a point, the comments have to go through moderation.
      It's to cut down on spam and keep it so that everyone can write.

      Great to see you back!!
      Suzy Dragnet

  8. Hi Suzy, what a great page you've got here!

    Joe's car's a Ford alright, but it's a 1964 Ford Fairlane, big brother to the Falcon. And in the movie the Fairlane that Joe and Bill meandered around Los Angeles in was (logically) a 1966 and not the 1967 one that they used in the series. To the best of my knowledge the footage of the 1966 Fairlane wasn't recycled in the series, despite the fact the changes between it and the 1967 were limited to the grille, taillamps and some of the bodyside trim between the them.

    Once again, great site you've got here, thanks for making it!

  9. Here's a point to ponder:

    In the original 1950s Dragnet TV series, Joe Friday is promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant. But here in 1967, he's been busted back to Sergeant again. What do you suppose he did to earn that one?

    (I've actually started writing a fanfic called "The Big Mistake," in which Friday will beat the stuffing out of a suspect and get busted back to Detective, but that's just me having a good time. What's your idea?)

  10. White Oak Canyon Road, is that part of the Universal lot? I swear they use those same houses on Adam-12. I think the yellowish one is the one where Pete escapes from his SLA-like captors after putting out a fire with the back side of his leisure suit. Anyway, I recently watched this on Youtube and LOVED it! This is some of Kent's best work, too.

    1. I think White Oak Canyon road is a real place - it looks too dirty, messy, and real to be backlot. It's probable that Mark VII used the same place, too.

      Suzy Dragnet

  11. You should have use the movie disc from the Season 2 set, since you missed out on the prologue of it!!! A real thrilling prologue, to be exact!!!

    1. Awesome, I will have to look into that.


  12. Suzy - I have just finished the final episode of season 4. It's the second time I have watched the full series, all 4 seasons, start to finish in order. I am now watching the movie again and my just start all over with Blue Boy. I really miss your weekly treatments of each show. Are you going to pick it up again? I think you stopped in the late part of season three. I know your loss last Spring must have been difficult. All of us Dragnet fans who are your regular followers would love to see you continue with this great (and very impressive) project. Hoping to hear from you in Comments. Kenny P

    1. Thanks so much, Kenny!
      You are correct. The flow/mojo/whatever has been flagging, but I'm getting the other pieces of my life back in order so I can bring Everyone Nods to its conclusion and we can all nod in approval, knowing it was given the proper love and attention it deserves.
      Suzy Dragnet

    2. I want to add thumbs up to finishing the project whenever inspiration returns (nodding). Just found it last week.

  13. Suzy - Good!!! I'll keep checking in. Kenny P

  14. Suzy - I noticed in your profile that musically you like the stargaze revival. I'm not sure what that is exactly but I saw My Bloody Valentine as part of a rock festival called Projekt Revolution in 2007. Linkin Prk was there too. Very loud. Bill Gannon would say "was there ever a Tommy Dorsey?" Kenny P

  15. Did anyone else notice that the victims were wearing the same outfit in the picture the police had that they were wearing when photographed by the killer?

    1. Yep. Series had a limited budget. The victims had to wear their own personal clothes including Ms. Brandt. Portrait shots were taken of each actress then they were ushered to a part of the sound stage where a stage hand bound and gagged each one of the girls. Three pictures and only three, were taken of each victim in various positions in the outdoor type setting and three were taken in an apartment set. After they picked the ones to be used in the film, the rest were either discarded or are part someone's collection.

  16. I looked it once on Ford's website. Joe's 1964 Ford Fairlane was called a "skylight blue." There were two or three colors listed that could the 1966 and 1967 Fairlanes. Even my husband, who's a car nut, couldn't tell which one is really was.


  17. I believe Johnny the parking attendant is Sab Shimono, then age 22. I believe it was one of the first things he did.