THE Dragnet WEBB SITE

-30- (1959)

This tale of a typical night at a city newspaper leaves a lot to be desired, but any true Jack Webb fan will still want to see it. Jack is Sam Gatlin, the managing editor of the paper, riding both the dramas in the newsroom as well as the ones in his personal life. As the movie begins, his second wife, Peggy, unable to have children herself, is about to pick up their new adopted son. Gatlin is against the idea , because he’s afraid that his grief concerning his first wife and son, killed by a drunk driver some years before, will keep him from giving the boy the love he deserves. The unfolding newsroom dramas include that of a young girl lost in a storm drain during a torrential rain storm; a plane crash that kills the grandson of the paper’s longest-ranking editor, “Lady;” and a rich girl cub reporter who gets her first big break. Comic relief (such as it is) is provided by William Conrad’s city editor, Jim Bathgate, and his relationship with the job-slacking copy boys (including David Nelson from The Ozzie and Harriet Show), as well as his attempt to bet on the outcome of a starlet’s impending childbirth.

(A.K.A. “Deadline Midnight”)
Produced and directed by Jack Webb
Cast (in alphabetical order):
Richard Bakalyan as Carl Thompson
James Bell as Ben Quinn
Whitney Blake as Peggy Gatlin
William Conrad as Jim Bathgate
Joe Flynn as Hy Shapiro
Louise Lorimer as Bernice Valentine
David Nelson as Earl Collins
Nancy Valentine as Jan Price
Jack Webb as Sam Gatlin
Dick Whittinghill as Fred Kendall

Other credits:
Written by William Bowers; Cinematography by Edward Colman; Music by Ray Heindorf; Film Editing by Robert M. Leeds.

The film has a great cast of character actors, including The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Deacon as an underappreciated staff artist, and McHale’s Navy’s Joe Flynn as one of the reporters.

Script Excerpt
Final Shooting Script, -30-, a Mark VII Production for Warner Bros., June 12, 1959. Scene added August 5, 1959. Written by William Bowers.

Copy Aide Ron Danton (John Nolan) and City Editor Jim Bathgate (William Conrad) discuss newspapers in front of Collins (David Nelson) who has just quit. It is raining.

RON: (referring to a newspaper) Have you ever seen one of these things on a newsstand in a rainstorm like this? They look like a lot of old bags whose faces have fallen.

JIM: That’s right, Aristotle–that’s because nobody’s come up with a waterproof paper yet. But even if they did, we wouldn’t use it and the Examiner wouldn’t use it and neither would any other paper in the country.

Because we have to print on the cheapest paper they can make. Otherwise, we couldn’t sell for a dime. You know what people use these for? They roll them up and swat their puppies for wetting on the rug–
–they spread them on the floor when they’re painting the walls–
— they wrap fish in them–
— shred them up and pack their two-bit china in them when they move–
–or else they pile up in the garage until an inspector declares them a fire hazard!

But this also happens to be a couple of more things! It’s got print on it that tells stories that hundreds of good men all over the world have broken their backs to get. It gives a lot of information to a lot of people who wouldn’t have known about it if we hadn’t taken the trouble to tell them. It’s the sum total of the work of a lot of guys who don’t quit. It’s a newspaper, that’s all. Well, you’re right for once, stupid.

And it only costs 10 cents, that’s all. But if you only read the comic section or the want ads–it’s still the best buy for your money in the world. I’m sorry to see you go Collins–here–you’ll probably want something to read on your way home.
Note: Some of the information on this page comes from the Internet Movie Database.

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