Saturday, November 30, 2019


Season 2
Episode 20

Original Air Date Feb. 1 1968

"We've seen her stills"
"Not this kind...."

"It was Wed, May 9th. It was warm in Los Angeles"
"We were working the day watch out of Juvenile Division"
"The boss is Capt. Morris"

     By the second season of Webb's late 60's Dragnet revival, it began to fall into a pattern of a light-hearted episode followed by a couple more serious-minded which were usually dire warnings of succumbing to vice or the horrors inflicted on society by the counterculture. Running at 9:30PM EST on Thursday it did well in ratings and NBC was probably pleased with the show as far as the low production cost with Webb's use of stock and/or previously used footage along with his quick no-nonsense approach to filming. 
    Proceeded by one of the series more comedic episodes THE BIG AMATEUR, its follow-up THE STARLET remains one of the darker ones and one of the few times a dead body was actually shown in the series. Sharp-eyed viewers will also spot the same group of Sunset Blvd. footage that was used in The LSD Story and there are some great views of the LAPD's porn stash at Parker Center. 
   Once again working out of Juvenile Division, Friday and Gannon are altered to the presence of a 16-year old runaway from Medford, OR. who came to L.A. to break into movies. The young girl named Patty Lee Bundy is reported missing by her aunt (played by character actress Amzie Strickland who passed away in 2006 with 268 (!!) acting credits to her name) and Friday and Gannon are told she's been seen in "one of those psychedelic places" (or psychopathic as the Aunt says) on Sunset. Heading over to The Flower Pot (a hippie espresso shop) they question Jo-Elle, a young hippie girl played by a cute as heck JoAnne Harris from THE BEGUILED and ACT OF VENGEANCE in one of her first speaking roles.

    Getting a tip from Jo-Elle that Patty Lee "has fallen into a thing... you know a movie thing.." the trail leads them to part-time actress Eva Graham (Susan Seaforth - who was on THE GUIDING LIGHT for about sixty years) which in turn leads them to the discovery that the Bundy girl has fallen into the porno movie racket. Along the way, we visit Detective Shaidell & Detective Sgt. Zabel (Webb regulars Leonard Stone & Robert Patten) of the Vice Dept., who fill Friday and Gannon in on all the ins and outs of the smut racket ("You name it...We got it... Books, magazines, Tijuana bibles, films, stills, devices...") and meet up with a porn director played by 40's "B" leading man Lyle Talbot.
   Climaxing with Friday giving one of his patented in-your-face lectures to Talbot followed by the discovery of Patty's body at a seedy rooming house where they learn she OD'd on reds while listening to jazz music on a phonograph. As mentioned this is one of the more downbeat episodes of the color series and makes a nice companion to the shows 1954 B&W episode The Big Producer with future ADAM-12 star Martin Milner as a teenager pushing dirty books at his high school.

Porn evidence room !!

Lyle Talbot as a shifty porn director. You can tell he's slimy by the sloppily knotted garish tie

Cool shot of a pre-restored Hollywood Sign

This establishing shot of Parker Center showed up in about every episode

Sunday, November 10, 2019


"The everlasting story of the everlasting glory of the United Stares Marines!"

    Released by Fox, this 1951 Technicolor war epic features a terrific cast many of whom were just starting out on long careers and while at first glance it does seem to be something that would have been made about 6 years or so earlier (one of the "why we need to fight" WWII pictures) it does attempt to get into a bit more into the psychological side of things and thanks to the full corporation on the USMC it features scads of post-WWII Marine armor and vehicles. Filmed in Southern Calif. around Camp Pendleton (along with a stop off at famous Bronson Cavern) the filmmakers were allowed the full corporation of the USMC which as a result along with the bunches of Marine hardware (for armor buff lots of Sherman tank & Amtracks) they had access to hundreds of Marines for use as extras.
   Although basically a 113-minute recruiting advertisement for the Marines with recruiting stations even set up in theatre lobbies, it was directed by Lewis Milestone who rather ironically had directed what is considered to be one of the greatest anti-war films of all time - ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in 1930. Some shots in HALLS OF MONTEZUMA, especially the long tracking shots of lines of charging and falling soldiers, are very reminiscent of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Although filled with gung-ho rousing action sequences as the Marine Hymn blasts away on the soundtrack as mentioned the story does attempt to get a little deeper into a few of the soldier's back story with some admittedly overdone melodrama. We feel something for them and when the characters do die, they die an agonizingly slow death while dragging themselves heroically through the mud.
   The movie was parodied in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H* in 1972 as one of the PA announcements for an upcoming movie night using one of the actual (and rather embarrassing) tag lines for the movie "Only the screen could capture their story and their glory...cheer those lovable mugs with the wonderful mugs we now love more than ever". What the hell (??)

     Focusing on a Marine platoon during an unnamed WWII Pacific battle (it's based loosely upon Okinawa and it was titled as that in some overseas releases) the film features Richard Widmark as the Lt., Karl Malden as the medic, along with Neville Brand (EATEN ALIVE), Jack Palance, Skip Homeier (THE TALL T), Robert Wagner, Martin Milner (ADAM-12), Brett Freed (HANG 'EM HIGH) who as the tough Sgt. is constantly trying to build a moonshine still (and would in a few years be replaced by Aldo Ray in this type of role) and Richard Hylton (FIXED BAYONETS!) as the remainder as the central group of soldiers that we're introduced to in the film's opening sequences. The remainder of the cast includes Richard Boone, in his big-screen debut, as the command figure in the form of a Col. perpetually suffering from a cold, along with Reginald Gardner as an intelligence officer and Japanese interpreter (who also supplies a bit of comedy relief) and Jack Webb as a war correspondent.
     This ensemble (sans Boone) is sent on a mission to locate a hidden Japanese rocket battery that must be destroyed by a certain time in order for an offense to start. Earlier in the movie we were introduced to various members of the squad is a flashback (which does stop the action-oriented narrative a bit) and how their problems such as Widmark's migraine headaches, Hylton's cowardice, and Homeier's tough-guy attitude play out in the upcoming plot as the group's numbers are whittled down and they become more desperate and disillusioned. It's interesting to see how it's mostly the younger actors who perhaps were newly under contract at FOX, receive the lion's share of the back- story sequences with Wagner, Homeier, and Hylton each receiving a segment.
   The movie features some spectacular battle footage with actual color combat footage neatly worked in and once the action moves primarily to the island and the "mission" begins the plot holds interest and excitement in spite of its rather long running time and as far as a war picture, you couldn't ask for a better cast.
    The film works well with giving all the individual marines distinct personalities and we feel a sense of loss as various members of the patrol are killed or wounded. There is also a realistic feeling and look to the men in combat as they become more disheveled, bloody, and dirty as the film progresses and although filmed in Southern Calif. the scenery is well chosen and doesn't scream "California" like a lot of productions although film buffs will instantly recognize the Bronson Caverns setting from about a gazillion films.

    The entire cast is excellent with most looking impossibly young including dark-haired & slim Richard Boone (who as the commanding officer basically just stands around and yells at everyone) and Jack Palance (here right after his first major role in the wonderful PANIC IN THE STREETS) is already one those actors that you just can't take your eyes off of.
     It's always interesting to watch Jack Webb in his early movies as you swear you actually see the wheels turning in his head as he observes the creative process. He would later use Boone in the 1954 DRAGNET movie (where he would essentially play the same character as here) and with even more fortuity this would be his first meeting with a young actor named Martin Milner and there's an integration scene here with a captured Japanese officer that's eerily reminiscent of his later work in DRAGNET. Richard Widmark has always been a highly intriguing actor to me. He always seems to bring some depths (no matter how small) to every character he plays from the highly consciences and caring role here to his more evil portrayals such as in KISS OF DEATH.
    HALLS OF MONTEZUMA is available on a Fox DVD that's re-packaged every so often in multi-packs with other Fox war films, although a Blu-ray hopefully one day should look pretty spectacular.