Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Classic TV; "Follow That Man" (AKA "Man Against Crime")

Classic Television Shows ~ "Man Against Crime" (AKA "Follow That Man");


Ralph Bellamy is best remembered as one of the plutocrat Duke Brothers from the 1983 Eddie Murphy/Dan Akroyd comedy "Trading Places along side Don Ameche. Bellamy was the larger, jovial grandfatherly one. It might come as a it of a surprise to discover that he was once known as one of the most hardboiled detectives of the early television era.

In "Man Against Crime" Bellamy was Mike Barnett, a private detective of the Mike Hammer school who acted as a lone wolf solving cases through dogged persistence and his fists rather than through any flashy insights or witty byplay. The young Bellamy was an impressive presence, physically large with a beetle-browed glower, a lip-curling snarl and a chain-smoking voice of gravel, Bellamy was no pretty boy and he looked like he was quiet capable of taking care of himself.


The show was quite violent by the standards of the early TV era with plenty of brawls, gunplay and car chases. The opening set the scene; a man runs desperately down a deserted city street street, chased by unknown pursuers, he darts into a building and up to an office when he is gunned down in hail of bullets. Turns out it's Bellamy's office, he pops up to see the unknown man drop dead, then Bellamy has to dodge another fusillade, then Bellamy draws a gun and runs after the unseen gunman. The opening also shows some differences from many of the low-budget TV shows of the era like "Rocky King, Detective". The camerawork is more kinetic than normal and the are some outside shots rather than being bound to a studio set. The actual show didn't quite live up to the opening of course but it was still more hardboiled than was than the relatively easy going "Rocky King" or dry procedurals like "Dragnet", "Racket Squad" and "Decoy".

The show was originally shot live until 1953 when it became pretaped. Originally run on CBS but when it was cancelled in 1953 it became the first show to jump to another network, first Dumont then NBC as well as being syndicated to local stations, although not always under the same title. Originally run as "Man Against Crime" after 1953 it was also later shown under the title "Follow That Man". It is under this name that most surviving episodes can be found. Cancelled once again in 1954 it was then brought back once more in 1956 as a live show without Bellamy who was replaced by Frank Lovejoy, that version lasted only a year. The series ran in total from 1949 to 1956.


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