Just the Quotes, Ma’am


Ladies and gentlemen, the blog you are about to read is true.  Today in 1920, the great Jack Webb was born.  The name Jack Webb immediately makes you think of Sgt. Joe Friday on radio and TV’s Dragnet.  The show began on radio in 1949 and transitioned to television in 1951.  It ran for 9 seasons on radio and a total of 16 seasons on TV.  Jack Webb produced the show and wanted it to give listeners (and viewers) a sense of the heroism and danger that a policeman deals with daily.  The show opened with 4 ominous notes that still, some 69 years later, are instantly recognizable.

There were also two Dragnet films which Webb starred in.  The first was in 1954 and the second in 1966.  In the 1954 film, actor Stacy Harris plays Max Troy, who has some very funny lines.  During an interrogation, for example, he says, “If you’re gonna eat onions, why don’t you find a closet!”  When confronted with evidence he tells Friday that it isn’t enough and says “That’s all the evidence you got?!  You take that downtown and they won’t let you in the washroom with it.  Now get off my back and hand me that ashtray!”  Webb, of course, has his share of great lines, too.  My favorite is when Troy’s friend starts to get up.  Friday sneers and says, “Unless you’re growin’, sit down!”

Prior to Dragnet, Jack played Pat Novak, a private investigator on the radio series Pat Novak for hire.  This show played almost like a film noir movie.  I love film noir because the dialogue is just so damn cheesy!  You eat it up!  What follows are some of my favorite Pat Novak lines.  Feel free to use one or two in conversation today in Jack Webb’s honor:

“She was at least 50, because you can’t get that ugly without years of practice.”

“He’s a good guy who never learned that if you keep your foot on the bar rail for twenty years, it will do more good for your arches than it will for your brain.”

“She walked with a nice easy swing of a satisfied leopard. And for a smaller leopard, she had pretty good spots too.”

“She stood leaning there for a minute, sort of a girl who moves when she stands still. She had blonde hair. She was kind of pretty, except you could see somebody had used her badly, like a dictionary in a stupid family.”

“His head was over to one side, and his body was twisted over the other away, as if he couldn’t make up his mind which direction to die in.”

“Somebody had gone duck hunting in the middle of his back.”

“She’d been traded around more than a Red Sox pitcher.”

“Houdini couldn’t get out of that one in two hours, with both hands, and a can of olive oil. It was like chasing cyanide with a bucket of Brandy: it tastes bright, but it’s only a matter of time.”

“For some reason, I felt like a man in quicksand complaining about his height.”

“I hit the floor and made Rip Van Winkle look like an insomnia victim. I didn’t like the floor, but it was in better shape than my face. I don’t know how long I was there, but it must have been a couple hours. I rolled over once and tried to get up, but it was like trying to barbeque a cake of ice.”

“I was up to my knees in mud and didn’t even know it was rainy season.”

“When I came in, she was sitting on the couch, drinking my whiskey. She could have all she wanted–a 1949 panther model, just the right amount of size 12, in a dress that looked like a well-tailored fig leaf. When she was through looking you over, you felt like the Sunday suplement.”

“I woke up with a head the size of Rhode Island. I rolled over and tried to get up, but I was about as strong as a moth in a wind tunnel. The room was dark and I couldn’t see very well. There was a stale, musty odor, could have been a marathon dancer’s dressing room, with a little fixing up, the sort of place you wouldn’t be found dead in. There was a guy lying next to me who didn’t feel that way about it. One look at the guy and I could see he was dead from the crew cut down. Somebody had wrapped a towel around his throat and forgot to say ‘when.’”

“I should have got out of there right then, but I use my brain like a bottle of medicine: a small dose every three hours.”

“We tried to follow the car, but it would have been easier to win the Kentucky Derby on a pogo stick.”

“I’m not crazy about waking up with strangers sitting on my bed, especially if they’ve got baritone voices.”

“My head must have looked like a jackpot–everyone in town was hitting it.”

“The rain hadn’t helped the alley much. It’s like washing your kid’s face and finding out he was ugly to start with.”

“He was a tough, hard cop, with a heart big enough to hide behind a piece of birdseed.”

“He was smiling like a vulture with the first option on a massacre.”

“Joe Feldman wasn’t very friendly. He sat over in the corner of the cab and he didn’t say a thing. He just kept looking at me and waiting, like a guy feeding arsenic to a rich aunt.”

“The veins stood out in his face and made a pattern as if he slept on an alligator bag instead of a pillow.”

Happy Birthday, Jack!







One thought on “Just the Quotes, Ma’am

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