View My Stats

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Binge-Watching "Highway Patrol". Part One.

"Whenever the laws of any state are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action it may be called the state police, state troopers, militia the rangers or the highway patrol.  These are the  stories of the men whose training skill and courage have enforced and preserved our state laws."

This was the opening narration to one of the great series of the 1950's, by one of its greatest voice-over narrators, Art Gilmore.
And he provided running narration throughout the show.
That only made it better.
I used to watch "Highway Patrol" when I was a kid in the fifties, but wasn't blown away by it as I am now.
I rediscovered it because the  "Decades" channel started running episodes of it.
This led me to seek it out on YouTube, where all 154 episodes reside.
I could put them up on my big 60" screen and watch them the way they were always meant to be seen.
Why was it so great?
It certainly wasn't the production values.
I understand that the entire budget for an episode was about $20,000.
Actors must have gotten paid in the dark.
What it had was a great star.
Broderick Crawford.
He was magnificent and compelling..
Probably the toughest cop ever portrayed on television.
If there was trouble anywhere near a highway, that's who you wanted to handle the case.
And he never let you down.
He always got his man.
In 22 minutes.
I am given to understand that he was also a raging alcoholic, and the only way they could stay on schedule was to shoot all his scenes in the morning
I don't think they ever did any night shooting.
That would have involved paying for lights.
And what they had was very tight storytelling.
And great cars.
The police cars were generally '55 through '59 Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Chevys.
The villains cars were usually 57 Plymouths, or 58 Mercurys.
Lots o' tail fins.
What's better than that?
In it's way, it was the exact opposite of "Dragnet", which was soft-spoken and deliberate.
And "Dragnet" had little or no violence.
"Highway Patrol" was always high energy and extremely violent.
Crawford's character, Dan Mathews, was never gun shy.
He must have shot and or killed at least one criminal at least every other week.
The shootings were all justified, but you had a sense that Mathews almost reveled in it.
And nobody ever talked as fast.
I'm given to understand that the later in the day, and the drunker he was, the faster he talked.
He and Joe Friday had virtually nothing in common.
Much more about this show next time.

------------------------------------------------------------------

My books, "Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@comcast.net
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3 comments:

  1. His loss of license due to DUI caused some scenes to be shot on private roads.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was a kid in the mid-'60s, my dad would take the family to Raceway Park, southeast of the city, to see stock car races.
    Once a year, Raceway would stage a "Hollywood Stunt Show!", featuring "real movie stunt drivers" who would drive the funny cars in all sorts of unsafe ways for our amusement.
    One of these drivers was a guy named Big Bill Something-or-other, "Stuntman for Broderick Crawford on 'Highway Patrol'!"
    As kids, my siblings and I would take this at face value.
    Years later, I read about ZIV's TV productions and their budgetary concerns; much was made about Mr. Crawford's tastes in refreshments.
    This reminded me of Raceway Park, and of Big Bill's services for Mr. Crawford, which I would have normally thought of as fights or chases; now, it seems that the stunt work consisted mainly of driving the patrol car in long shots, so there was a big heavy guy at the wheel.
    I'm in the process of getting the DVDs of "Highway Patrol".
    How films that were made to be seen on a 17-inch Muntz come across in digital restoration - that's one of the fun parts of this.
    Who knows - I might even get a better look at Big Bill Whatever at the wheel!

    "Twenty-one-fifty bye ..."

    ReplyDelete

Followers

Blog Archive

About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."