Christmas on the Radio — Dragnet ‘.22 Rifle for Christmas’

Dragnet

From the radio version of “Dragnet,” Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Ben Romero (Barton Yarborough) on the case of a missing 9-year-old boy in “.22 Rifle for Christmas.”

From 1949 | From 1950 | From 1951 | From 1952 (with partner Frank Smith) | and From 1955, courtesy of Archive.org.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, LAPD, Radio and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Christmas on the Radio — Dragnet ‘.22 Rifle for Christmas’

  1. Earl Boebert says:

    For the young ‘uns who may not have seen the early TV versions: When Webb moved the show to television, the writers kept producing what were basically radio scripts, detailed narration and all, and crew just filmed them line by line. So you got voiceover of “we climbed the steps to the second floor and knocked on the door of apartment 17″ while Webb and Alexander climbed the steps to the second floor and knocked on the door of apartment 17. You could be blindfolded in a room with Dragnet on TV and not miss a thing. Dum-da-dum-dum.

  2. CallboxSam says:

    My father was a technical director for several of the early TV Dragnets, I remember him brining home the badges they wore on TV (actual LAPD badges were used). I also remember the trunk of the take home car they had him use was full of Dragnet scripts, if only I had saved some.

    • lmharnisch says:

      It’s interesting that the earlier versions of this script refer to Lt. Lee Jones of the crime lab while the later ones refer to Ray Pinker.

      • Dan Nather says:

        Jack Webb played the part of Lt. Lee Jones in the 1948 movie He Walked By Night, which inspired him to create Dragnet. The movie also included the original prologue (in part): “THIS IS A TRUE STORY . . . The record is set down here factually — as it happened. Only the names have been changed — to protect the innocent.”

      • lmharnisch says:

        ps. There is tons of OTR (old-time radio) on Archive.org. I would look there first before buying anything. The audio quality ranges from lousy to amazingly good.

  3. Cal and Lulu says:

    “Just the facts Maam, all we need are the facts” Joe Friday

    • Dan Nather says:

      I recently finished listening to the entire radio run of Dragnet from 1949 to 1955 (on four mp3 discs I bought on eBay), and NOT ONCE does Joe Friday say “Just the facts, ma’am.” The closest he came to saying it was when he was questioning a woman who finally asked him “Why are you asking so many questions?” and Friday replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am, we’re just trying to get the facts.”

      • lmharnisch says:

        I’m not sure he even said it on the TV show…. I suspect it’s what people mistakenly remember. But I could be wrong.

        It’s interesting to listen to Webb’s earlier radio shows (“Jeff Regan” and another one whose title I can’t recall) and realize just how derivative and undistinguished they are from everything else that was on the radio then.

        Once Webb hit the format with the first season of “Dragnet,” he never varied it at all except to speed it up in later years (you can hear this if you compare the various versions of “.22 Rifle for Christmas”).

        The most important thing to remember about “Dragnet” is that it is realistic without being accurate, as strange as that sounds. The show uses the proper terms and actual (or nearly actual) locations. There really was a Lt. Lee Jones and Ray Pinker, and Thad Brown was chief of detectives.

        But there are no unsolved crimes in “Dragnet,” a world in which the detectives are the only sane people in a city populated by garrulous clerks (usually played by Harry Morgan) at hotels and liquor stores, ditzy housewives and lots of cheap, tough-talking crooks.

        Most important, the LAPD of “Dragnet” is 100% white, as is the Los Angeles as presented in the show. Joe Friday’s partner, Ben Romero, has what might be considered a Latino surname but speaks with a Southern drawl. Joe Friday has no life except being a detective and he lives at home with his mother.

        You will hear them say “KMA-367,” the LAPD’s actual radio call, so all the props are in the right place. There is realism for sure. But “Dragnet” is still not accurate.

  4. aryedirect says:

    Jack Webb tended to hire radio actors for his tight TV version. He wanted talent who could do a good cold read from a teleprompter in order to speed production. In those days, a typical half-hour network show could be filmed in no more than three days. Webb’s works always came in on budget due to his bare bones, but effective, production techniques.

  5. CallboxSam says:

    I think the “Just The Facts” bit came from Stan Freibergs spoof on Dragnet.

  6. Santos L. Halper says:

    I encourage fans of old time radio to listen to Ed Walker and The Big Broadcast every Sunday evening from 7-11pm ET (also archived on the station’s website) at WAMU.org. All the greats are there: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Fibber McGee & Molly, Broadway Is My Beat and so many others.

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