Dragnet (1987)

Today's selection:

Not the greatest piece of cinematic entertainment ever made. I watched it all the time on VHS, even though I remember distinctly making the same disclaimer whenever I showed it to anyone who hadn't seen it. Normally this is the point where I'd write "but for Scenic Route purposes..." except it's not even all that scenic. Neither the cars nor the landscape of '87 Los Angeles is captured particularly beautifully or thoughtfully. So perhaps this should be called:

Nevertheless, I didn't harvest all these screencaps for nothing here we are, so let's make the most of it. Besides I wanted to check back in with L.A. to see if it got over its comet vampire problem.

Seems to have bounced back pretty well.
The haze has lifted, and the people have returned.

"This is the city. Los Angeles, California, representing every race, color, creed and persuasion that God, no matter how He is worshiped, chose in His infinite wisdom to deposit here in the cultural nexus of the Pacific Rim. Almost 4 million people work and play here, and like any other place anywhere, there are those who have it and those who want it.

"Those who have it, enjoy it - no matter how they got it. 

"Those who want it, can get it by attempting to better themselves in a sympathetic community populated by decent citizens cheering them on. Or, they can try to take it the easy way... Because even in the City of Angels, from time to time, some halos slip. That's where I come in, doing my job to the best of my ability on a daily basis.

"I work here. I carry a badge."

Cue the Art of Noise theme song remix - one of the first of its kind in a now ubiquitous genre. Speaking of songs from the soundtrack, remember this?

I'd actually forgotten all about that. Wow. I like how the accompanying text makes a big deal out of noting the choreography was by Paula Abdul. 

I wonder if they mean just the fly-girl stuff or all the little routines Hanks and Aykroyd do.

Dragnet takes place in the same universe as its TV source material and features Harry Morgan reprising his role as (now Captain) Bill Gannon. Dan Aykroyd does a perfect Joe Friday impersonation as Friday's similarly-named-and-similarly-just-the-facts-ma'am-persona'd nephew, and Tom Hanks is Streebek, his cra-hay-zy partner. 

Can these two mismatched cops overcome their differences in personality and police procedure and a corrupt police commissioner hellbent on stopping them in time to stop P.A.G.A.N. from dosing the city with chemical weapons?

People Against Goodness And Normalcy.

Like I said, it's not all that great - I mean, it's not bad, but some of the jokes are too broad and the whole uptight-guy-learns-to-loosen-up arc was old even in 1987. Nevertheless, I watched it over and over. You'd be forgiven for thinking it's because part of the plot involves a stolen print run of Bait Magazine, necessitating much of the action taking place at the porn publisher's mansion. 

Understandable but inaccurate. At the time - for reasons that escape me now - I thought 80s Playmates were lame. If it was '87; I only had eyes for Jami Gertz.
And while great pains are taken by Dabney Coleman and the production team to make sure his character (Jerry Caesar) isn't too alike any one real-life counterpart, the appearance of so many real-life Playboy Playmates certainly evokes both the fabled Mansion and Hugh Hefner.

Some uber-80s elements include:

Public pay phones.
Lots of public smoking. (In L.A.!)
And torture of a witness in LAPD custody played for laughs.

Incidentally, that joke is ruined by that overhead shot of the table. Whenever Muzz (the prisoner) refuses to talk, Streebek sends Friday out of the room, whereupon he opens a drawer and slams it shut into Muzz's balls. But just prior to the shot on the left, Streebeck reaches down to his side of the table to pull out the drawer. I mean, maybe the LAPD have a specially constructed table where the drawer does a hard right turn underneath the tabletop, but it looks like they just screwed up.

"The story you are about to see is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent. For example: George Baker is now called 'Sylvia Weiss.'"  

"Look out: Muppets!"
Streebek's apartment is pretty cool. Hiroshige is following me around lately.
Something tells me there won't be a BAMF entry for this film.
Ye Angelinos - is this a real place? Or backlot?


Neither Aykroyd or Hanks had many more action/cop roles.
Kudos for Hanks doing his own stunts, though. (If riding pillion without a helmet can be considered a stunt.)
Non as Emil Muzz.
Lt. Stephanie Holden as The Virgin Connie Swaile,  Chang as Reverand Whirley, and
Roxy Carmichael as Baitmate Suprema.


The Scenic Route celebrates the fashions, landscapes, cars, and vibes of a bygone age via the cinematic record.