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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Binge- Watching "Highway Patrol", Part Two.

Further thoughts about "Highway Patrol".

It was the year of the Edsel, as brief as it was.
You never saw an Edsel on" Highway Patrol".
You would have thought that the Edsel people would have loved to have their vehicles as cop cars or even the villains cars on  "Highway Patrol".
Just to give the cars some character. 
But it was such a joke right off the bat, that It would make the show look foolish.
And the producers knew it.
There were no blacks on "Highway Patrol"
No cops, no criminals
I have a feeing that they used mostly blacklisted writers.
I'd read the credits, and most of their writers had very few other credits than "Highway Patrol" 
They must have been the most.cheaply-made  script-writers particularly by the word.
It was primarily a fast paced action show but thy still managed to give Broderick Crawford at least 50 pages of dialogue a week.  And he always signed off on his microphone with 10-4.
The producers sure got their money's worth from the "Highway Patrol" writers. 
Just about everybody on camera wore a hat.
Giants of the industry, like Quinn Martin and Gene Roddenberry, began their careers as lowly producton assistants on "Highway Patrol". 
The cars were very well cast.  Plymouths, Dodges, Desotos and Mercuries were the cars of choice for the villains.  Usually a little more upscale.
With huge tail-fins.
It was the age of the tail-fins.
This was somewhat ironic.
The cars back then were so distinguishable from any other make.
Today, all cars look the same.
But in 1957, they'd get the call to be on the lookout for a '56 sedan.
Never identifying the car by brand.
And in those days, that information would be so helpful.
I never understood this.
Bare-boned Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Chevies were used for the cop cars.
Most of the supporting actors had no other career to speak of.
Sometimes their one-shot appearance was their only TV appearance.   
There were exceptions:  Leonard Nimoy did three episodes.
Paul Richards did a great episode as a mental patient.
Ted Knight played a crusading newspaper reporter.  He tried playing it intelligently.  I didn't buy it.
Joe Flynn played a sleazy con-man.  He was quite believable.
Ed Nelson did like six different guest shots.  He was a great villain every time.
Stuart Whitman rode shotgun along with Dan Mathews about seven or eight times.
Paul Burke showed up once.
They even found room for a couple of the original Dead End Kids: Bobby Jordan and Billy Halop.
Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, both pushing fifty, were still attempting to milk what was left of  the Bowery boys franchise, so we never saw them.
One of my hobbies when binge-watching "Highway Patrol" was to watch an episode, then check the IMDB to see if the women were still alive. Particularly if they were babes. Usually they were long gone.
There were a preponderance of episodes that featured close-up shots of money: kidnapping ransom,
bank robberies.
They never went to the trouble of using money that looked like real money.
It was all Funny Money.
It could have been used to play Monopoly.
My wife got into binge-watching "Highway Patrol" with me.
Just like with "Columbo" there was always a moment where we turned to each other  when we both realized when Peter Falk was going to nail Dick Van Dyke , and we'd say and we'd simultaneously "He's got him."
Same thing with "Highway Patrol"--that moment when Crawford would know that he's got his man,
we'd say he's got him. 
And he always did, in 24 minutes.
Imagine how fast he'd get 'em if they had cell phones back then.

When "Highway Patrol" went off in 1960, the same production company almost immediately threw Crawford into another series. "King of Diamonds"
He played Johnny King, a globe-hopping  Diamond insurance investigator.
It was an attempt to turn Crawford into a romantic figure, something they never did on "Highway Patrol".
There was a lyric to the theme song:  It contained the immortal line----
"When...Johnny King breaks a door down, he's not saying 10-4 now, he's romancing a Queen"

I'm not kidding.

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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.
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And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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2 comments:

  1. My understanding of the era:

    If a series made a deal to use a company's brand of cars, it had to be exclusive; there would be a specific credit for the Ford Motor Company, to use Edsels, Mercuries, Lincolns, etc.
    Most of the cars you've mentioned here seem to be Chrysler brands, such as Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, and the like.
    General Motors is repped by Oldsmobile, Buick, and Chevy.
    Apparent answer: the auto wrangler for "Highway Patrol" just went to the nearest used car lot and rented whatever he could.
    Which, on a Ziv budget, wouldn't have been much.

    Ziv budgets were a factor in all hiring on "Highway Patrol".
    Youngsters on the way in, and oldsters on the way out.
    Most came out of the Poverty Row pool; the ones who knew how to work fast and cheap.
    At that point, in Stone-Age TV film, any kind of credit counted, and if you could amass a lot, so much the better.

    I've been scanning some of the "Patrol" films, looking for interesting names.
    The most interesting one I've found so far is of an assistant director of many of the earliest episodes:
    Erich von Stroheim Jr.
    (Insert your own joke here.)
    (But it's true.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sudden added memory (?):

    I seem to recall that there was once a Federal law prohibiting the depiction of actual currency in film and TV.
    Reason is not known (or remembered; something having to do with discouraging forgers, or some such).
    Anyway, stage money was the "currency of choice", usually old out-of-date banknotes from the time when banks printed their own notes.

    ReplyDelete

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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."