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A late '50s crime thriller for a Saturday evening

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: February 19, 2009

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STORYLINES connected with upholding the law, or for that matter breaking it, have been a great favourite with TV programme makers ever since television first came into our living rooms.

For the past couple of years Alan Keeling has provided us with details of a clutch of memorable television programmes, dominated to a certain extent by Westerns and those good old crime thrillers, and this time round we again wander down a thoroughly well worn track by presenting the M-Squad. Alan writes:

"This was a rather intense and violent US TV crime series that starred the unforgettable Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Ballinger, ably assisted by his boss, Captain Grey, played by Paul Newlan. Lee Marvin exposed his gravelly voice even more by doing the narration during the programme. Ballinger and Grey both worked as special plain-clothes detectives with the M-Squad Division of the Chicago Police Dept., whose job it was to battle organised crime and various other criminal activities. The music that accompanied the series was written and recorded by Count Basie and Stanley Wilson, and was such a success in its own right, that an LP was produced which popularised M-Squad even further.

The series was made by Latimer Productions for Revue Studios and was screened in the Midlands area by ABC on Saturday evenings from January 1958. Altogether 117 half-hour episodes made in black and white were filmed in Chicago, Illinois, between 1957 and 1960, and included a guest artist list to savour. Bruce Gordon, Kent Smith, Paul (Cannonball) Birch, Jack Elam, Charles Bronson, Jim Davis and Burt Reynolds."

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