Jack Webb Stops The Presses
---30--- (1959) Plays The Mile-A-Minute News Game
This was what washed Jack Webb out of Warner features, but hang it all, the thing grows on me more each time I watch. For authenticity, which news scribes said at the time it lacked, and dialogue irritating for overly cute and clever, still --- 30 --- has unique to Webb dynamism plus he and writer William Bowers' one-of-kind take on news gathering. Insiders at the time thought ---30--- spin on scribes closer to Prohibition than our own times, and aspects are old-fashioned, but it was also no secret that Jack preferred life that way. Consider his takes on law enforcing (Dragnet), music (Pete Kelly's Blues), and our military (The D.I.). In fact, his entire update on Dragnet for 60's consumption was lament for days past when law/order held sway, at least so far as Webb worldview.
---30--- lets good actors overact and ordinary situations be Five Star Finals, Jack himself making live wire entrance of a run up flight of stairs. Bowers wrote sheets of dialogue meant to be clever, and maybe it seemed so on paper, but overfeed of it here takes ---30--- to level of unreality not seen even in city desk comedies like Teacher's Pet. Loopy scoring by Ray Heindorf makes me regret there's not a soundtrack CD available. Jack Webb shot at quick-time and usually under schedule/budget, ---30--- coming in at $509K in negative cost. Unfortunately, it only took back $582K in domestic rentals and $115K foreign (would you have gone in 1959 to see a French or German newspaper drama?). The loss wrote finis for Jack and WB, though they'd later use him to revitalize 77 Sunset Strip. Fifty-five years on, ---30--- must be doing something right, because it went weeks as "Most Viewed" of offerings at Warner Instant, where it plays in HD. There is really fine production/release background for ---30--- in Michael Hayde's book, My Name's Friday: TheUnauthorized but True Story of Dragnet and the Films of Jack Webb, a most informative and enjoyable read.