Dragnet (1987)

PG-13 | 106 mins | Comedy | 26 June 1987

Director:

Tom Mankiewicz

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

End credits include “Special Thanks” to: “The Los Angeles Police Department and The City of Los Angeles.”
       End credits also state: “T-38 Jet provided by the Thornton Corporation; Lear Jets provided by Clay Lacy Aviation.”
       Dragnet was a parody of the long-running Dragnet police series starring Jack Webb as Los Angeles, CA, Police Department “Sergeant Joe Friday.” The series began on radio on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in 1949 and proved popular enough that it was transferred to television in 1951, while also continuing to broadcast on radio. This first Dragnet television series produced 276 episodes, which aired over eight seasons on NBC from 16 Dec 1951 to 23 Aug 1959. The series had a large enough following that a big-screen Dragnet film starring Webb was released in 1954 (see entry).
       In 1967, NBC revived the series, again starring Webb as the stoic Sergeant Friday. That revival produced ninety-eight episodes that aired over four seasons, from 12 Jan 1967 to 16 Apr 1970.
       The idea to do a big-screen parody came when producer David Permut caught a rerun of the series on cable television. Permut told the 2 Jul 1987 LAT that he immediately envisioned comedian Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday. After getting a green light from Universal Pictures, which owned the rights to the Dragnet television series, Permut approached Aykroyd, who loved the idea and started writing a script.
       Dragnet marked the directorial debut for Tom Mankiewicz, who was best known as a screenwriter and “script doctor,” having done rewrites on several of the James Bond and Superman ... More Less

End credits include “Special Thanks” to: “The Los Angeles Police Department and The City of Los Angeles.”
       End credits also state: “T-38 Jet provided by the Thornton Corporation; Lear Jets provided by Clay Lacy Aviation.”
       Dragnet was a parody of the long-running Dragnet police series starring Jack Webb as Los Angeles, CA, Police Department “Sergeant Joe Friday.” The series began on radio on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in 1949 and proved popular enough that it was transferred to television in 1951, while also continuing to broadcast on radio. This first Dragnet television series produced 276 episodes, which aired over eight seasons on NBC from 16 Dec 1951 to 23 Aug 1959. The series had a large enough following that a big-screen Dragnet film starring Webb was released in 1954 (see entry).
       In 1967, NBC revived the series, again starring Webb as the stoic Sergeant Friday. That revival produced ninety-eight episodes that aired over four seasons, from 12 Jan 1967 to 16 Apr 1970.
       The idea to do a big-screen parody came when producer David Permut caught a rerun of the series on cable television. Permut told the 2 Jul 1987 LAT that he immediately envisioned comedian Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday. After getting a green light from Universal Pictures, which owned the rights to the Dragnet television series, Permut approached Aykroyd, who loved the idea and started writing a script.
       Dragnet marked the directorial debut for Tom Mankiewicz, who was best known as a screenwriter and “script doctor,” having done rewrites on several of the James Bond and Superman movies, among others. According to the 22 Mar 1987 LAT, Frank Price, then chairman of MCA Motion Picture Group, which owned Universal Pictures, called Mankiewicz in to fix the Dragnet script. After working well with Aykroyd and co-writer Alan Zweibel, Mackiewicz “loved” the script and stayed on to direct.
       While Aykroyd was always set to star as Joe Friday, his onscreen partner, "Pep Streebek," was in question. A 29 Mar 1985 DV report said actor John Candy was being considered. The 24 Jun 1986 DV said Jim Belushi was going to be Friday’s sidekick. Ultimately, Tom Hanks won the role.
       Harry Morgan, who played Friday’s partner “Bill Gannon” in the 1967--1970 television series, returned to play Gannon, now promoted to the rank of captain for the film.
       Principal photography began 21 Oct 1986 in the Los Angeles area, according to the 25 Nov 1986 HR production charts. The 29 Mar 1985 DV estimated the budget would be in the $10-12 million range.
       The 20 Jul 1987 People magazine noted that the mansion and pool used for the home of pornography king “Jerry Caesar” was actually part of a convent, the Immaculate Heart Retreat House. Promotional materials in AMPAS files show the film also shot at the Brown Derby restaurant in Pasadena, CA, at Fort McArthur in San Pedro, CA, and in the Mojave Desert.
       After principal photography was completed, Tom Hanks shot an addition scene in which his character foregoes having sex with his girlfriend when his box of condoms is empty. The 20 Jul 1987 LAHExam said the scene was added to send the message to audiences to think about indiscriminate sex in the age of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
       At one point, producers intended to title the film Dragnet 1987, but by the time the film opened on 1,337 screens on 26 Jun 1987, it was just called Dragnet. The film earned $10.5 million in its first three days of release, according to the 30 Jun 1987 DV box-office report. After six weeks, the film had grossed $50 million, according to the 11 Aug 1987 DV box-office report.
       The Dragnet television series was famous for the announcer opening each episode saying, “The story you are about to see is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Since the movie was intended as a spoof of the series, the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, 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 Wiss.”
       Similarly, the series was famous for Jack Webb doing on-air narration that always began with, “This is the city, Los Angeles, California,” and then described the case on which “Friday” was working. For the movie, Aykroyd provided the voice-over narration, saying at the opening, “This is the city, Los Angeles, California. Four hundred and sixty-five square miles of constantly interfacing humanity representing every race, color, creed and persuasion that God, no matter how he is worshipped, chose in his infinite wisdom to deposit here in the cultural nexus of the Pacific Rim. Almost four 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." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1985.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1986.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1987
p. 3, 5.
Daily Variety
30 Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1987
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
20 Jul 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Mar 1987
Section K, p. 3, 86.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jun 1987
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
2 Jul 1987
Section G, p. 1, 13.
New York Times
26 Jun 1987
p. 3.
People
20 Jul 1987.
---
Variety
1 Jul 1987
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Applied Action Bernie Brillstein Production
A Tom Mankiewicz Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Rigging gaffer
Asst chief rigging tech
Key grip
2d company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Aerial photog
Video playback
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Set dress leadman
Set dress leadman
Set dress leadman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Masks made by
Masks made by
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus score engineered and mixed
Orch and addl mus
Orch and addl mus
Orch and addl mus
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd mixer
Sd asst
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley
Boom op
Sd tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Title seq des by
Opticals by
Title motion control photog
Spec visual eff
Spec visual eff, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Spec visual effIllusion Arts, Inc.
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod assoc
Asst to Mr. Mankiewicz
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Auditor
Asst to Mr. Permut
Prod coord
Secy to Mr. Mankiewicz
Secy to Mr. Weiss
Prod asst
Insert car driver
Aerial coord
T-38 pilot
Tech advisor
Police coord
Caterer
Snake des
Scr supv, 2d unit
Loc mgr, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Just The Facts,” performed by Patti LaBelle, written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Flyte Tyme Productions, Inc., Patti LaBelle appears courtesy of MCA Records
“City Of Crime,” performed by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, featuring Glenn Hughes and Pat Thrall, written by Peter Aykroyd, Dan Aykroyd and Pat Thrall, produced by J. B. Moore and Robert Ford, associate producers: Peter Aykroyd and Pat Thrall
“Dragnet” (Danger Ahead/Dragnet March), performed and produced by Art of Noise, Danger Ahead written by Walter Schumann and Miklos Rozsa, Dragnet March written by Walter Schumann, Art of Noise appears courtesy of China/Chrysalis Records
+
SONGS
“Just The Facts,” performed by Patti LaBelle, written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Flyte Tyme Productions, Inc., Patti LaBelle appears courtesy of MCA Records
“City Of Crime,” performed by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, featuring Glenn Hughes and Pat Thrall, written by Peter Aykroyd, Dan Aykroyd and Pat Thrall, produced by J. B. Moore and Robert Ford, associate producers: Peter Aykroyd and Pat Thrall
“Dragnet” (Danger Ahead/Dragnet March), performed and produced by Art of Noise, Danger Ahead written by Walter Schumann and Miklos Rozsa, Dragnet March written by Walter Schumann, Art of Noise appears courtesy of China/Chrysalis Records
“Helplessly In Love,” performed by New Edition, written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Flyte Tyme Productions, Inc., New Edition appears courtesy of MCA Records
“Dance Or Die,” performed, written and produced by Peter Aykroyd and Pat Thrall
“Danger Ahead,” written by Walter Schumann and Miklos Rozsa
“Dragnet March,” written by Walter Schumann.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Dragnet 1987
Release Date:
26 June 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 26 June 1987
Production Date:
began 21 October 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
4 November 1988
Copyright Number:
PA412511
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Ultracam 35 cam and lenses provided by Leonetti Cine Rentals
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28649
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California on Wednesday, January 7, Sergeant Joe Friday of the Los Angeles Police Department works in the robbery/homicide division, just like his namesake uncle did twenty years earlier. When his partner, Frank Smith, buys a goat farm in Ukiah, California, and quits without notice, Friday is assigned a new partner, young Detective Pep Streebek. The no-nonsense, by-the-book Friday and the hipster, free-spirit Streebek initially clash. Friday criticizes his new partner’s attitude, hair and wardrobe, while Streebek feels Friday should lighten up and realize the world is changing. The pair are assigned to investigate a bizarre set of crimes, all connected to a group calling itself "PAGAN," which is gaining notoriety due to the frequency and brazenness of its crimes. PAGAN leaves its cards behind at the Los Angeles Zoo after stealing a bat and an anaconda and trimming a lion’s mane. Friday and Streebek find PAGAN is claiming responsibility for hijacking a chemical train at the freight yard, as well as stealing multiple police and paramedic vehicles. After the entire month’s print run of the pornographic magazine Bait is stolen from the printing plant, Friday and Streebek go to interrogate pornographic publishing magnate Jerry Caesar, who tells them Bait is having its twenty-fifth anniversary party in a few days. PAGAN demands Caesar publish its manifesto in exchange for the return of the magazines, but he is refusing. The manifesto says that PAGAN “believes bad sex and good drugs are the cornerstone of a great democracy.” Friday and Streebek go to investigate a woman’s missing wedding dress. She tells them ... +


In Los Angeles, California on Wednesday, January 7, Sergeant Joe Friday of the Los Angeles Police Department works in the robbery/homicide division, just like his namesake uncle did twenty years earlier. When his partner, Frank Smith, buys a goat farm in Ukiah, California, and quits without notice, Friday is assigned a new partner, young Detective Pep Streebek. The no-nonsense, by-the-book Friday and the hipster, free-spirit Streebek initially clash. Friday criticizes his new partner’s attitude, hair and wardrobe, while Streebek feels Friday should lighten up and realize the world is changing. The pair are assigned to investigate a bizarre set of crimes, all connected to a group calling itself "PAGAN," which is gaining notoriety due to the frequency and brazenness of its crimes. PAGAN leaves its cards behind at the Los Angeles Zoo after stealing a bat and an anaconda and trimming a lion’s mane. Friday and Streebek find PAGAN is claiming responsibility for hijacking a chemical train at the freight yard, as well as stealing multiple police and paramedic vehicles. After the entire month’s print run of the pornographic magazine Bait is stolen from the printing plant, Friday and Streebek go to interrogate pornographic publishing magnate Jerry Caesar, who tells them Bait is having its twenty-fifth anniversary party in a few days. PAGAN demands Caesar publish its manifesto in exchange for the return of the magazines, but he is refusing. The manifesto says that PAGAN “believes bad sex and good drugs are the cornerstone of a great democracy.” Friday and Streebek go to investigate a woman’s missing wedding dress. She tells them that one of her tenants, Emil Muzz, stole it after skipping out on his back rent. When the policemen go through Muzz’s trash, they find a photo of scantily clad women with a phone number on the back of the photo. When they telephone the number, it belongs to Jerry Caesar. The person on the other end of the phone says that Emil Muzz is Caesar’s driver. When the pair go to the marina to talk to Muzz, he drives off at high speed in Caesar’s limousine, but crashes the car. They arrest him and Muzz confesses that he was a plant in Caesar’s organization and is really working for PAGAN. Muzz also reports there is a large meeting at the PAGAN clubhouse in the San Gabriel Mountains that night. Friday and Streebek change into biker outfits and go undercover to the meeting. Just before they arrive, a police car stops them, but the officers turn out to be PAGAN operatives and let them pass. Guests at the gathering wear bizarre costumes. Friday and Streebek are given leggings made out of goat fur and offered an array of pills to swallow. Streebek grabs a handful to blend in, but does not swallow them. As the ceremony begins, they learn that PAGAN stands for “People Against Goodness and Normalcy.” A high priest wearing a goat mask announces they are going to sacrifice a virgin, releases the bat stolen from the zoo, and throws the lion’s mane into a pit. As the priest pushes the virgin wearing the stolen wedding dress into the pit, Streebek and Friday jump in to save the woman and find the giant anaconda from the zoo in the water. Streebek shoves the pills down the snake’s mouth to tranquilize it. Streebek and Friday free the woman and escape in one of the stolen police cars. They drive the virgin, a young woman named Connie Swail, back to her home in Anaheim, California. Streebek thinks Friday is smitten with Connie, but Friday dismisses the idea. When the pair’s commanding officer, Captain Bill Gannon, does not believe their story, they take him to the crime scene, but there is no evidence of a party having taken place. Police commissioner Jane Kirkpatrick threatens to have them both fired over the incident. The next day, Friday goes to Venice Beach to pick up Streebek, but Emil Muzz follows him. When the two return to the car, it explodes into flames. Streebek suggests they investigate the chemicals stolen from the freight yard and they go to the only laboratory in town capable of mixing the two chemicals to create liquid fertilizer. When mixed improperly, these chemicals can cause death to those who breathe the fumes. Friday drives a tank with a battering ram to get inside, but discovers the facility is a milk pasteurizing plant. After they leave, Emil Muzz comes out of the building and orders the toxic chemicals moved in a milk truck. Police Commissioner Jane Kirkpatrick rallies against Mayor Peter Parvin, demanding his resignation due to all the PAGAN activities. Meanwhile, Reverend Jonathan Whirley, head of the Moral Advance Movement of America (MAMA), which is rallying against pornography, announces that Jerry Caesar is donating $1 million to MAMA. Curious about Friday’s life outside work, Streebek follows him when their shift ends. He finds Friday taking his grandmother, Grace Mundy, and Connie Swail to dinner at the Brown Derby restaurant. Rev. Jonathan Whirley, Commissioner Jane Kirkpatrick, and Captain Bill Gannon are also having dinner at the restaurant. Connie panics upon seeing Whirley, claiming he is the one who kidnapped her and was the high priest in the goat mask who threw her into the pit. Friday arrests Whirley, but Kirkpatrick and Gannon are outraged. Kirkpatrick fires Friday and Gannon takes his gun and badge. Friday and Connie drive into the hills to view the stars. They are about to kiss when Emil Muzz overturns their car, pulls a gun on them, and holds them captive at Griffith Park Observatory. The next morning, Connie’s mother telephones Streebek, worried that Connie has not yet returned. Jerry Caesar meets with Rev. Whirley at a cemetery. Whirley reports the mayor is not responding to demands for his resignation, so they will drug him during the Bait magazine anniversary party and destroy his career. Once the mayor is out of the way, Jane Kirkpatrick will be a shoe-in to win the election, at which time Whirley and Caesar can split the territory. After Caesar leaves, Jane Kirkpatrick comes out from behind a gravestone and says she does not trust Caesar. Whirley tells her not to worry as the pornography king will not be alive in a day’s time. At Griffith Park Observatory, Whirley explains to Friday and Connie that the Jerry Caesars of the world are needed to create the moral outrage upon which he builds his power. Whirley has his men take Connie away and is about to execute Friday when Streebek arrives and saves Friday. Later, Friday and Streebek stake out the entrance to Caesar’s mansion as people arrive for the Bait party, including Mayor Parvin and Rev. Whirley. Friday wants to go in and arrest everyone, but Streebek reminds him that he is no longer a police officer. PAGAN operatives disguised as caterers place hoses from a catering truck into the house ventilation system, preparing to pump the poisonous chemical mixture into the mansion. However, Streebek stops them, then telephones Gannon asking for backup. Meanwhile, a dump truck arrives, dropping the stolen copies of Bait magazine in the front yard. The PAGAN operatives douse the magazines with gasoline. Whirley drives out, telling Emil Muzz he is in charge for the next few days while he goes to Acapulco. Whirley throws his cigar on the magazines, setting them ablaze. As the police arrive, Muzz has his men fire at them with machine guns. However, Friday drives the police tank through the gate. Muzz tries to shoot Streebek, but Friday stops him. Jerry Caesar thanks them for saving him, while Gannon gives back Friday’s badge. At the airport, Whirley gets on a private jet with Connie as his prisoner, but leaves an angry Jane Kirkpatrick behind. Whirley flies off just before Friday and Streebek can stop him. However, in the air, a police airplane with Friday inside pulls beside Whirley’s private jet, ordering them to land. Once on the ground, Whirley is arrested and Connie is reunited with Friday. Whirley is found guilty on multiple counts of attempted murder, kidnapping, arson, and obstruction of justice and sent to jail in Chino to serve forty-three consecutive ninety-nine year sentences. Meanwhile, Friday and Streebek remain partners and Friday has sex with Connie. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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