Forget what you think you know about Dragnet especially if, like me, you only know about the 1987 laugh-a-minute remake. I can assure you that the 1956 original movie, directed by and starring none other than, Jack Webb, is a vastly different experience. While Aykroyd and Hanks prance about in fluffy goat trousers, Webb walks unnaturally fast down corridors. I’m assuming ‘Jacky Boy’ had just figured out how to speed up film and wanted to utilize that technical wonder in scenes where it wasn’t really needed, a bit like when they figured out how to use wacky graphics in 70’s T.V – Top Of The Pops wasn’t ever the same.
Joe Friday (Webb) and partner Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) investigate the murder of Dub Taylor (the best name in the world), after many interrogations and smart remarks, the duo find that all the clues lead back to a notorious mob boss, Max Troy (Stacy Harris). Arresting this slick-son-of-a-gun is another matter , as he uses the American justice system to his advantage, creating legal loopholes – making it nearly impossible for him to get his comeuppance.
Speed walking and speed talking Detective Joe Friday is on the case, demanding ‘just the facts’ and doling out lectures by the barrel-full. He is is a rather entertaining hero. While the Gilmore Girls-esq way of communicating is exhausting for a feature length movie, it has it’s moments, making Dragnet a 50’s treasure. The plot has a range of melodramatic twists and turns, with every revelation the crime busting pair unearth you can hear that iconic theme tune ‘dun-dunundun-dunning!’
Why should I buy this on DVD I hear you ask? Well, why on earth not? Even if you aren’t familiar with the 87 remake, the T.V show or even who Jack Webb was, Dragnet is the classic wet weekend movie. Straight-laced cops, disgruntled with the constitution and using more words than an undergrad dissertation to say simple sentences, is an extremely warming experience. At times you may find yourself laughing (I’m not sure that it is supposed to be a comedy, come to think of it). It’s no joke that Webb created a brilliant addition to any crime-thriller-fanatics collection, or just someone stuck for something to watch and can’t abide watching The Mummy on ITV2 again.
So grab your Pomade to give your hair that greasy sheen, straighten up that tie and shine those shoes. You can be an ‘eyeball witness’ to movie history because Joe Friday’s badge is worth $1.82 an hour, so Mister, better settle back into that chair because it’s worth blowing £9.99 of it here.