Lee Marvin played Frank Ballinger in this vastly superior crime series set in Chicago that ran for 3 seasons (117 stories) from 1957 to 1960. The addition of the fine Count Basie theme after the first series makes me rate this as the best of the b/w US cop shows.
My reviews of series 1
1.1 The Golden Look - I can see why this was the first shown, as it has a poignancy with a robbery at a finance company that ends in a shooting, and worse, the two crooks crash their getaway car, killing a father and young son. One gangster gets away injured, only clue is he has gold teeth. Ballinger plays a hunch in the harbor area
1.2 The Watchdog - A prowler attacks Prior in his home, leaving him fighting for his life. But the attacker is bitten by Champ, a rabid dog, "unless he gets treatment, he's dead." Dr Sol Bertram is forced to supply the serum, but then the case takes an unexpected turn, when it transpires that Mrs Amy Prior knows the attacker. Frank Ballinger has a hunch and stakes his career on being right
1.4 Pete Loves Mary - Convict Pete escapes jail. Frank questions his mother and brother Steve. His ex-girl Mary is now married and won't co-operate. In Lincoln Park, Frank pounces as Steve attempts to drive his brother away. But Frank becomes Pete's hostage, he is for the chop, but in tragic circumstances Steve saves him
1.5 Face of Evil - Mrs Ferguson is murdered. Husband Eddie had spotted an evil face at the window. She's the fourth recent woman to have been killed. Carrie, who loves Eddie, seems the clear suspect. He had been a war hero, killing five soldiers bravely, "you'll be the fifth." The face is neatly explained
1.6 Street of Fear - Frank's taken a shine to Alice, "a decent kid," even though he's staking her out in an undercover operation to catch diamond fence Louie Prince. When he spots she's an innocent dupe he breaks his cover, "sometimes my job isn't as nice as it could be"
1.7 The Matinee Trade- Frank has to check out if a police sergeant he once knew is bent. He delves the seedy world of bookies and protection rackets, but his hunch about his colleague's bona fides is justified, though he has a yet more distasteful task as a result
1.8 The Hard Case- Ex baseball star Joe Adams is now on Skid Row accused of robbery. Frank goes to jail in order to clear him by nailing his cell mate who committed the crime, "the awful loneliness of the big house."
1.9 Killer in Town- A stranded motorist shoots a cop, so the tense search begins for seven time killer, Rex Lang, but it needs "a small miracle" to trace him: via an old magazine he'd stolen, plus a small blonde and the phrase "you bet," Ballinger traps his man on an ironing board
1.10 Diamond Hard- On his day off, Frank chats up bar girl Hazel (Angie Dickinson), who is about to get married. But Frank sees her later with Joe, "fresh out of San Quentin." By pretending to shoot a cop, Frank gains Joe's confidence, to join him on a safe job. Hazel is forced to drive the getaway car
1.11 The Alibi Witness- The bandit behind a grocery store robbery is identified by an old lady as Wally Gardner, but though even his girl (Jean Carson) and his mother are against the bum, Ballinger wants to prove him innocent, "even a snake deserves family loyalty." Persistence ferrets out Simmons, who can alibi Wally, but he refuses to co-operate, because, it turns out, it would implicate himself in a totally different crime
1.13 Family Portrait (pilot story)- Stoolpigeon Eddie has got hold of gangster Sam Hinder's diary, but before he can hand it over to Ballinger he is shot dead, along with a cop. Frank makes it his task to get Hinder, "we want you dead in the county morgue with a tiger on your big toe." However maybe there is "one elegant clean thing in his whole life," his daughter Lucy, who ain't so dumb as he thinks. But Ballinger's man enough to handle even her kissing
1.14 The Palace Guard- Big Ned Kennedy is done in, Tommy Hatch is guilty but witnesses are too frightened to testify. Police have to guard him, "babysitting for a gorilla." But he gives them the slip, on account of a dame, serve him right when he gets what he deserves
1.15 The Slow Trap- Paul Crowley's experienced bonded messenger Eddie is attacked and robbed of $75,000. As chief suspect, it turns out he has a woman on the side. She had been behind the crime, though Ballinger makes "the most fantastic charge"
1.16 The Cover Up - At the scene of a crime with a man with his head "bashed in," Ballinger spots an unusual vitamin pill. This leads him to the Assistant Prosecutor and a difficult refereeing match between two rivals in love. He is offered a confession from Julia, the lady in the middle, but persuades her to rescind it. Playing a hunch with the pill, he traps the killer
1.17 Blue Indigo - Irene is strangled, the third blonde to be done in in five months. Only witness is Doris, she and Irene were hostesses at the Academy Ballroom. Doris is next on the killer's list, his method is to make himself "suffer" by playing a record of Blue Indigo, after which he smashes it then his victim. But as this makes him steal another copy of the disc, Frank Ballinger can trace him
1.18 The Long Ride- On his way to the Death House, Carl Warfield escapes. Ballinger recaptures him miles from home, and escorts him on the train back to Chicago. The prisoner tricks Ballinger and snatches the police gun and identity- thus roles are reversed. Tommy, a young boy on the train spots the switch, and a young lady proves Ballinger's savior. As the train arrives at its destination, a tense showdown
1.21 Lover's Lane Killing - Connie Meston is out with her father's private secretary Robert. He is killed. Only that evening he had become engaged to Mildred in the old eternal triangle. Which woman is lying?
1.22 The Frightened Wife- A good old whodunnit, when The Queen of the Gold Coast demands the DA find her nephew Norman. His wife Martha, so she claims, has "done him in." However, it is Norman's secretary Susan Spencer who knows the truth. In an old museum, Martha confesses, but it's only so she can be put on trial when she won't need a Perry Mason to get acquitted
1.23 Black Mermaid- Whitey Carson is wanted for an armed robbery in which his two partners were killed. Ballinger, posing as Slim Mader, gets to him via his girl Elsa, but finds himself Whitey's prisoner and sold for $25,000 for the insurance reward on Slim, well nearly
1.24 Man in Hiding - A pencil found at the scene of a bank robbery leads Frank Ballinger to an exclusive prep school. Another such robbery ends with a witness, a teacher at this school, being shot dead. Another witness noticed a piece of string hanging from the crook's pocket, and this takes Ballinger back to the school, to catch a con posing as a teacher. A simple but effective detective script by Harry Junkin, the tense finale sees Frank a hostage in the classroom
1.25 The Chicago Bluebeard- A new wife is poisoned. She had been introduced to her husband-to-be via a lonely hearts club. He has now disappeared. Frank joins such a club, where an old teacher of his, Miss Mary Larsen, is being set up as the next victim. She is poisoned and Frank swoops on Miller her boyfriend, a poor waiter. But he is not the bluebeard. Instinct leads Frank to the right man
1.26 Girl Lost - Ricky Salter owes a quarter of million to his buddy just out of jail, the proceeds of a bank robbery. Ricky's wife Laurie develops amnesia when she is snatched despite police protection. It seems Frank Ballinger has a soft spot for her
1.27 Hideout - Bank robbers hole out holding Mrs Grayson and 8 year old Lori hostage in their home. Frank Ballinger poses as a boyfriend to give a new slant on an old theme. After being tucked up in bed by Frank, Lori bravely gets a gun to make her the heroine, "Frank, be careful." He is, in that final shootout
1.28 Shot In The Dark - A girl is shot outside a movie house, the third such random killing, then a fourth, that of Walter Endicott, Ballinger wastes time with nutter Bill Wesson, before closing in on the sniper, who stood to gain a heap of insurance money
1.29 The Twenty-Six Girl- The Traynors are missing, Ed was being blackmailed over his prison record. The couple are found murdered in a vacant lot. Ballinger exposes a devious plot at the Club Hangover. Great opening quote: "trouble is like an elephant- it's pretty hard to hide"
1.30 The Fight- Potential boxing champion Eddie Loder (Charles Bronson) knocks out Sunny who later dies. Someone blames Eddie, because death threats follow, then a bomb in his locker. Who is behind it? As the "big fight" rages, Ballinger proves his case
1.31 Guilty Alibi - A car knocks a woman down, Miss Cranston the victim, claims in hospital that the driver was a woman. But it is a Mr Hurd who has belatedly confessed. However is it a coincidence that Jack Crane, Hurd's boss, was murdered at the same time? A simple tale, but clever plot
1.32 The Healer - "I'm going to kill you," Ellen (Gloria Talbott) announces on the phone to her father Arthur Carter, "tonight." She has been seeing quack psychiatrist Jonas Warman, yet it's her own doctor that she shoots, then, surprisingly, comes to the station to shoot poor Ballinger
1.33 Day of Terror- A mother wants her baby back from Helen, who has adopted him. The latter is a friend of Frank Ballinger, so though not strictly M Squad business, he acts as mediator. In a sad case, he finds that the adoption had been privately arranged by a Mrs Warren for $4,500, and to keep the child, aniother $10,000 is now demanded. It ends in a tense climax
1.34 The $20 Plates - Ballinger helps Joe in the Treasury Department to track the printer of counterfeit notes. A child's coloring book leads Ballinger to a phoney cop, "I smelled danger," though in the end it's only "a little guy"
1.35 The Case of The Double Face - Ballinger arrests an unlikely jewelry store bandit, though he is sure "it just has to be somebody else."
Has the suspect Evans a double? An old shirt leads Ballinger to a painter, but a reverend gives him a solid alibi. However an alibi can be broken, "we only believe what we can prove"
1.36 The System - A disgruntled punter gives Ballinger the lowdown on illegal crap games run by Eddie Constantine. Frank gets to a game, despite the crooked Margo trying to dissuade him, she even warns the cops, just as well for another crook, Harrison, is out to do Constantine
1.37 The Woman From Paris- Suicide in a hotel, that of "a very attractive" French woman. Industrialist George Braden has remarried to a French girl, Simone. She clearly knew the dead woman, though won't admit it. Their daughter Liz is planning to run away with fortune hunter Andy (Paul Maxwell). A fingerprint is enough to solve this case, which turns out to be murder
1.38 Accusation - Wealthy 55 year old wheelchair-bound Arthur Reardon is gassed by Paul, his chauffeur. It's made to look like suicide. Ballinger works out the suicide note ain't genuine, and then how the room could have been locked from the inside. The interest in this familiar but intriguing storyline is whether his new young wife 26 year old Ruth is an accessory, "they wanted him to die"
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