Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Follow That Crime
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 08/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'll admit that I'd never heard of this TV series before I saw the DVD sitting in the bargain bin (for a buck; can't beat that with a stick). I decided to take a small risk, and I'm glad that I did, as these three episodes are a hell of a lot of fun.
First, some practical matters. The DVD packaging states that the name of the show is "Man Against Crime". However, the actual opening credits (and the DVD menus) would name the show "Follow That Man".
Whatever the title, this show ran from 1949 to 1954 and starred Ralph Bellamy as detective Mike Barnett. He's ostensively a New York City cop, although he seems to do some freelance detecting during a couple of these episodes, so I'm not exactly sure what his relationship is to the NYPD. He's your typical tough, macho, no nonsense, charismatic character, and I found him one of the more appealing things about this show.
He's a very human character. He doesn't make deductive leaps out of thin air. He doesn't beat the truth out of people. He simply keeps plodding along until he solves the case. It's a simple characteristic, I know, but I couldn't help but like it.
Purists may stop short of placing this show into the film noir genre, but it certainly seems heavily influenced by it. The dialog could have come straight from Raymond Chandler. These are only half-hour episodes, so there isn't time for hugely complicated plot lines, but they're great little nuggets of crime thriller.
The first episode on the disc is "Death Takes a Partner". Barnett helps out a friend who runs international bicycle races. The mob has a large amount of cash riding on the outcome and Barnett wants to make sure the race is fair. There's a nice double-cross in this one, and the plot keeps the episode moving at a brisk pace. I did, however, have to stifle a laugh at Martin Balsam's attempt at a French accent.
The second episode is "Day Man", and is -- to be honest -- just the tiniest bit silly when all is said and done. Houses in a wealthy neighborhood are being robbed, and the only visible connection is that the criminal helps himself to the owner's beer before leaving the scene. The crime isn't particularly interesting, so we have to be satisfied with Bennett's investigation. Thankfully, that part of the story is the episode's strength. But if you don't see the so-called big surprise coming, then you weren't paying attention.
"Doll Bandit" rounds off the three episodes. The doll bandit is so named after a high-profile bank robbery (though they're only sticking up the FIFTH national bank). Three armed men raid a bank, threatening to shoot a mother's baby if anyone tries to stop them. It turns out the "baby" is a doll and the mother is in on the heist. The story revolves more around the criminals turning on each other than it does on the police investigation. I really enjoyed this one. Barnett manages to be clever in a very simple and direct way.
The DVD case of this Digiview productions version has the hilarious typo: "What really made the show unique was that the show were [sic] done live." The show were done live, were it? I'm in no position to mock someone else's typing prowess (as readers of my reviews can attest), but couldn't they have hired a better copyeditor? Digiview seems to have a gaffe like this on every single release. It's only a two sentence summary for crying out loud...
And I'm not sure how "done live" the show was. There are a number of on-location scenes, which I'm sure were filmed prior to broadcast. According to the Internet Movie Database, this program stopped going out live in 1952. I can't find a good episode guide on the web, so it's possible that the episodes here came after the show switched to a recorded format.
I have no idea whether these three episodes are typical, but if they are, then this is a show I look forward to seeing more of. Hopefully more episodes will be released on DVD in the future. Until then, these three are certainly worth a view."