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 2
2.2 Dead or Alive - Two "crazy thrill kids" rob a bar killing a customer and barman, also taking a hostage. Ballinger's task is made harder when green reporter Mary Burnett slags him off in the press after he has to shoot one of the crooks. The other, Alvin, flees with his hostage, "we don't do deals with killers" is Ballinger's firm line. But when Alvin tricks her into helping him, she grows up fast! Tough and dramatic, the story asks questions about the shoot to kill policy, and about the society that can raise such hoodlums
2.3 The Missing Claimant - Martha Darrell is concerned as her husband Kenneth has been missing for two weeks after responding to Box 987 in The Chicago Post. He was one possible heir to a large estate, all claims investigated by Allen Lloyd. But Lloyd had stated that a cousin named Julie was the genuine article. But Ballinger shows her up as a fraud, and finds where Kenneth's body has been buried in an intriguing story, "it just didn't work out"
2.4 The Refugees - Hungarian refugee Josef Sandor is a victim of the employment extortion racket. Ballinger meets a wall of silence, "can you put a policeman in every shop, every store?" Breaking down their fear, he offers the frightened Hungarians a police philosophy, "once we know about a criminal action, we can't stop until we run it down." He poses as a warehouse loader, developing a soft spot for Bettina Sandor, before coming face to face with the ringleader. By way of thanks from Bettina, a farewell kiss, "Hungarian for thank you."
2.5 The Trap - The owner of a pawnshop is attacked by young Danny Mitchell, who runs away scared that he's killed him. Ballinger pieces togetherDanny's sad background, his workaholic mother and his devoted girl Susan. Danny is hiding with small time crook Max, "you're not taking me in, mister." This is a frustrating overdramatic story that ends in the murder of a blind man and a shootout with Ballinger
2.6 Force of Habit- Rose Mooney identifies the body killed in a factory explosion as that of Val, her husabnd, a wanted criminal. But it is actually that of her brother, and when Val continues to rob safes "like a real pro," Ballinger suspects Val must still be in circulation
2.7 The Phantom Raiders - Motor bike raiders are robbing gas stations. A bracelet gives Frank a clue. He dons leathers to catch the gang in the act
2.9 The Big Kill - Another bank hold up, but this time a teller is needlessly shot dead. Did she know something? Who did she know? Her friend Luke Porter is suspicious, he has a record under his real name Larry. Luke aka Larry now calling himself Lester chats up Ellen a clerk at another bank. Thus M Squad are waiting when the next job is pulled, but Ellen is taken hostage
2.10 The Sitters - born loser gambler Collins is beaten up when he cannot pay. Frank tracks down an illegal betting ring that uses phones of gullible housewives, including one of a baseball player: "if this ever gets out..." With some pleasure, Frank nails the gang
2.11 The Executioner - A cop tries to shoot Ray, but the guy is only posing as a cop, why? It seems that unwittingly Ray had spotted some jewel thieves. Despite police protection, he is tricked into knocking out the cop guarding him. Frank Ballinger warns a redhead and is on hand to catch the gang
2.12 The Widows - A mechanic at an all night garage is murdered, but what's the motive? His wife Evelyn is hardly mourning, living in luxury. It's part of a bigger swindle run by Arthur Kane who is set up by a policeman. She wants her husband bumped off. This is Frank Ballinger, and outside a bowling alley the killers strike
2.13 Contraband - Newly imported sports cars are being used to smuggle in narcotics. The vehicles are bought by Miss Eve Parker, but it's her business partner who is behind the racket
2.14 Prescription for Murder
- About to be busted, Lucky Costello, a loan shark racketeer, orders Marty the key witness, an ex-cop, to be gunned down in broad daylight.
At St Andrew's Hospital, brain surgeon Dr Stephen Renzig might yet save his life, so Lucky kidnaps Anita Renzig, and issues this chilling ultimatum, "if you want to see your wife again, don't go thru with that operation... she lives if Marty don't." Once Ballinger has sussed out the doctor's classic dilemma, he moves to save his wife, the doc then saves Marty and Lucky is arrested
2.15 Trade School aka The Teacher- Sharpy and his young hoodlums run this junior protection racket in a trade school. Ballinger fails to make honest Pete (Burt Reynolds) testify against his tormentors, whose sense of evil nastily pervades this school. Sharpy finally flips it when confronted by the principal, and pushes him out of the window. Though the coroner says suicide, Sharpy's next bloody warning to Pete's girl Irene, leads to a showdown amongst the jagged lathes at the school. Ballinger strikes, odds of 4 to 1 against him, but Pete chips in. This is stunning drama
2.16 The Third Shadow
- $20,000 is still missing after a robbery- did cop Dave Price nick it? Dying thug Al Stemple says he did. But Ballinger finds out there was another crook on the job, Greg Cook, but singer Grace Richards (Monica Lewis, who sings My Baby Left) alibis him. Leaning on her, Frank can't make her shift her story, but just as it had started with a shootout, so it ends, "that's why the blues are written"
2.17 One Man's Life - Walter a haberdasher, offers to bury the hatchet with his rival Ralph. The latter is done in and Ballinger has 48 hours to prove him innocent. He exposes the old protection racket, then he breaks down one lying witness. Well dramatised but protracted ending
2.19 The Last Act - Box office attraction Laura Dennis is attacked, part of a scheme to close the theater, so Jerry can purchase the plot. The show mustn't go on, yet it does until two killings follow. Next on the hit list is Laura herself, bringing on one of those theater shoot outs
2.20 Mugger Murder - Coin dealer Robert Hummel claims he was attacked in the street by ex-con Garcia and in self defense had to strangle the villain. Ballinger is suspicious and catches an unlikely serial killer, "I'm glad you stopped me"
2.21 The Star Witness - On a cold night, Mary, an innocent woman, takes shelter in a night club and witnesses a killing. "The girl who saw the killer" is hidden in a hotel, but she finds it difficult to give the man's description. Actually she cannot, but she does recall one vital clue, enabling Frank to nail him after the traditional shootout
2.22 The Take Over - "This sort of thing went out with Prohibition," but it's another protection racket, run by Troy Jordan, who talks a la George Burns, though maybe his sidekick Flicker is trying to muscle in. Troy and Ballinger race to find Flicker first, in this "old fashioned gang war," though it's bad girl Marla who helps solve this case
2.23 Voluntary Surrender - Sarah Thurston, an old recluse, is robbed and murdered. Petty crook Harry Frost is one of the two villains and to have an alibi he confesses to the theft of a hardware store at the same time. Surveillance by Ballinger, then Harry is taken to the scene of the crime and tricked into giving himself away
2.24 The Death Threat - Who tried to kill Ballinger? A great film noir scene as an assassin takes a shot at him in the dark outside a restaurant. Ted Stevens (Paul Burke) is chief suspect, jailed for a crime he claims he didn't commit. But since his release from jail "Stevens sure lives a model life," and he believes McShane a fellow prisoner is framing him. To get at the truth, Ballinger bravely sets himself for another attack outside the restaurant, then pursues his masked attacker
2.25 The Harpies - At 1.15am in the snow, Lloyd Weldon is gunned down after leaving redhead Carla Kinross. Ballinger suspects harridan Ma Nelson is up to her old tricks, though actually it's her weird daughter who's following in ma's footsteps, the reason, Ballinger had put her daddy in jail. The story tries to go down three storylines, so misses the mark, though Ballinger's sympathy is touching for the widow who's sure her man wasn't cheatin' on her
2.26 Ghost Town- Police shoot dead the killer of a taxi driver who was delivering a case containing $100,000. Vincent Brooks had withdrawn such a sum to pay off a blackmailer, who had kidnapped his daughter Suzanne, "Miss Goody Two Shoes." Now noone knows where she is hid. Ballinger chases a jazz player she admired- a blind alley. She's concealed in Ghost Town, houses being demolished at an alarming rate. With a bit of child psychology, Ballinger finds her- of course
2.27 The Vanishing Lady - A stockbroker is held up by a masked bandit and after a struggle is shot. A cufflink starts Ballinger on the trail of the murderer, who needs to bump off a witness- but Ballinger reaches her in the nick of time. "I'm no killer," cries the killer, but Ballinger warns him, and us, "a gun is not a toy"
2.28 The Crush Out - Racketeer Larry Barker has been maltreated in jail, claims his wife Marlene. An inquiry at the prison gives the con an excuse to shoot his way out, a senator his hostage. Just like the old 30's gangster movies, though not so exciting. Ballinger has a secondary role, a bit slow in working out that Larry's gun has been tampered with
2.29 The Fire Makers - unusually, two big names in the supporting cast. 'J Boruff Dresses' is the latest victim of a gang of arsonists, but this one is worse, for a nightwatchman is murdered. Ben Blacker (Leonard Nimoy) shops his brother Harry (James Coburn) when the latter gets cold feet. Ballinger catches Ben in flagrante, who is then trapped by his own smoke bomb
2.30 The Terror on Dark Street - "A big wild-eyed badly scarred man" is terrorizing a neighborhood, though he's only in disguise. Frank traps a wife who uses him to kill her husband
2.32 The Baited Hook- Carol and her dad Jack are walking the dog, when a man comes up and shoots it. He is escaped convict Miller, who wants his revenge on Jack, who had been in jail with him. Miller later shoots Jack, but he ain't a good shot. Ballinger pursues him for a shootout in the library
2.33 Model in the Lake- Model Shelly is found drowned, she had been blackmailing an ex prisoner. When her roommate Jo is nearly strangled, Ballinger gets on to the killer, Jim Leeds, who is tricked by Frank's chat about "a new angle"
2.34 The Outsider - Ellen falls into a diabetic coma. Who has watered down her insulin? Two suspects: her brother or her husband she is divorcing
2.35 High School Bride - As his wife wants to divorce him, Lonnie poisons her then hides her corpse. Frank's search is for a woman reported missing, and he finds the inevitable other woman, Lucy. Confession is good for the soul, Lonnie claims it had been suicide. Lucy is nearly his next victim
2.36 Dangerous Game - A model and her widowed employer Arthur Leslie are celebrating their love when Alan's shop is robbed of valuable furs. "Flatfoot" Ballinger is soon on to a "sweet talker" who sells off one of the minks a little too quickly... to an undercover Ballinger. In a tight spot, it's lucky the "old fool" Leslie steps in to his rescue
2.37 Decoy in White - The boss of Maitland Plastics is buying up hot cash. When he lowers the black market price he will pay, he is karate chopped. One killing leads to a second, which leads Ballinger to a kidnap murder ten years ago. Kitty has one of the hot $20 bills and is destined to be the third victim unless Ballinger can prevent it
2.38 Mr. Grim's Rabbits - The murder of a seaman at the docks leads Ballinger to R Franklyn Matson III, the boss of a fur smuggling gang. But he is already dead, shot by a dissatisfied client, Olivera. Unknowingly, she chats up Frank Ballinger, the case ending with a sad study of the crippled Doris, whose caring father John Hibbins is using the stolen furs to pay for his child's cure
2.39 The Platter Pirates - DJ Sy Mitchell in his broadcast from The Musical Tent, promises listeners tomorrow an expose of racketeeering in the music industry. Of course he is silenced. Manager of the club Danny is the guilty man, but Dick Pyper, one half of The Pypers who have improbably got their disc into the Top Ten, sees what happens. He's scared when he is nearly killed, but he won't tell Ballinger, who uncovers a very up-to-date crime, bootleg recordings
2.40 Death is a Clock - Paul Danzig is to be hanged for a killing he claims he remembers nothing about. His wife Loretta fails to persuade him to remember, but Ballinger takes her to the scene of the crime and finds a witness who can identify the real killer. Before he can close the case Ballinger is shot in the tummy. A moody story, well acted, even if I got to the killer ages before M Squad
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