RARA-AVIS: Police procedurals

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 01 Jan 2003

In a message dated 1/1/03 12:15:37 AM Eastern Standard Time, owner-rara-avis@icomm.ca writes:

<< In the post-war era, this changes. Lawrence Treat
 makes a concerted effort to find out what police work
 in NYC is really like before sitting down to write V
 AS IN VICTIM (and in his review of this book, Anthony
 Boucher uses the word "procedural" but doesn't quite
 define it as a separate sub-genre, yet; he WOULD do so
 in 1956). Likewise playwright Sidney Kingsley in his
 1949 stage play DETECTIVE STORY. Likewise Stewart
 Sterling in his novels about an NYC arson
 investigator. Likewise MacKinlay Kantor in his
 screenplay-turned-novel SIGNAL 32. Likewise Jack Webb
 in his 1949 radio series DRAGNET. >>

Excellent posting Jim! Lawrence Treat's short stories featuring his police cast members are superb. Look for the digest sized collection P AS IN POLICE.

Did not know MacKinlay Kantor's SIGNAL THIRTY-TWO (1950) began life as a screenplay. I do know that he joined the New York City Police Department
(23rd Precinct) and served with them 1948-1949 to gather background. When his son mentioned this in a "Mommie Dearest" type reference to his father's alledged racism, I doubted that such a successful writer would do this at the height of his career. But I was wrong. Kantor did, despite having earned big bucks in Hollywood both as a screenwriter as well as in selling his stories to the movies ("The Best Year's of Our Lives," "Romance of Rosy Ridge," "Voice of Bugle Anne," and etc.).

One addition to your list that I believe is widely overlooked but was very influencial. That is Mark Hellinger's final movie "The Naked City" in 1948. It followed the police point of view, featured NYC location filming (rare in those days), and had to have been a big influence on Jack Webb. It was in this movie that the "Dum-De-Dum-Dum music theme had its birth.

Richard Moore

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