The Lineup (TV Series 1954–1960) Poster


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Memoirs of a face on the cutting-room floor
bigpurplebear-129 August 2003
To this day, fifty years later, I can never go by one of those still-standing Gamewells (the old police call boxes which used to stand on seemingly every other street corner in town) without expecting to find Lt. Ben Guthrie or Inspector Matt Greb leaning into it. Perhaps it's the fact that so much of this series was shot on location -- rather than on soundstages -- and perhaps it has to do with the fact that the producers used a great deal of "local talent" (sportscaster Sandy Spillman seemed to spend as much time in uniform here as he did doing the nightly sports roundup); whatever the reason, "The Lineup" managed to weave itself into the fabric of daily San Francisco life in that era. If you lived here, you grew used to seeing their production van -- with its distinctive silhouetted "Lineup" on the sides -- pulling up to ready another shot. You never knew but that you might end up in a scene. It happened to me once, waiting in line for a 'kiddie matinee' outside the Paramount theatre, only they edited the scene just before the camera panned over me. Ah well, fame is fleeting, or so they say . . .

"The Lineup" owed its inspiration to the success of "Dragnet," of course, even to the characterizations of Guthrie and Greb (while Warner Anderson's stern asceticism could make Jack Webb's Joe Friday look like Chuckles the Clown, it's not hard to imagine Tom Tully's Matt Greb and Ben Alexander's Frank Smith knocking back a few rounds and swapping lies at a cop bar together); this is where the similarities ended. "The Lineup" was tighter, its pace more in keeping with that of daily SF life, and the dialogue was refreshingly free of the "natural speech" um's and ah's in "Dragnet." Fictional as it was, it nonetheless became a fairly faithful chronicle of its time and place

That time has long since passed, and so much of the sights and the sounds of the place have changed. Yet interestingly enough, a large number of those old Gamewells still stand . . . almost as though they're waiting for Guthrie and Greb to return.

Neither of those guys, after all, would ever carry a cell phone!
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Old San Francisco
JRabbit19 September 1998
This series is a nostalgic monument to Old San Francisco;i.e., before the development of high rise buildings. One can hear the old fog horns and feel the dampness as Inspector Grebb and the Lt. walk about in Top Coats and Fedoras. They also frequently use the old Police Call Boxes(dedicated phone lines on the street), painted blue of course. After all, portable two-way radios were still less than reliable. The series also makes use of the old Hall of Justice building on Kearney Street. This elaborate old building was torn down to make way for a new hotel. It is a very different city depicted in this series than was shown in "The Streets of San Francisco" or the Harry Callahan/Clint Eastwood movies.
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Looking for this in Video
ddoran327 May 2006
I grew up on San Francisco Beat. It was a family event each week. It was the precursor to Streets of San Francisco, Dirty Harry, and Ironside. Besides Perry Mason (back in the day)it was the only compelling crime series on at the time. Shot in B&W it and mono it delivered fast passed gritty episodes on a weekly basis.

With local location shots as a SF native it delighted all who watched it. Although predictable story lines lead to obvious conclusion given the era the scenes along with the plot kept the audience captivated.

As the original San Francisco crime show it paved the way for the next generation of S.F. police dramas such as the aforementioned Raymond Burr series Ironside, The Streets of San Francisco with Karl Malden an Michael Douglas and Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry Series.

As a testimony to how well this movie/series was cast, many of the actors went on to perform in some of the later Crime Drama series on television. Warner Anderson as the hard driving Lt. Ben Guthrie delivered grounded performances as he did throughout his extensive career.

Marshall Reed as Inspector Fred Asher went on to roles in Dragnet, and Adam 12.

Does anyone know where I can get it on DVD?
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What great memories.
legaleagle96823 March 2006
Growing up in the SF Bay area as a kid in the 50's I always looked forward to San Francisco Beat coming on the tube every Saturday night. All the SF locales such as the Japanese Tea Garden,the old Hall of Justice on Kearny Street, Playland at the Sea. Filmed before the "Manhatanization" of downtown SF when the highest point in the city was Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. I can't remember any details of the episodes but clearly recall the "feel" of the show which encapsulate everything that was San Francisco just after WWII. Fog horns, sea gulls, the wharf, this show had it all with a real film noir feel. The two detectives would stop at the police call boxes to talk to headquarters.
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"San Francisco Beat"
sphogheadsf-16 January 2005
As a young boy,"San Francisco Beat" was my favorite TV show.I loved and still do, any film that uses pre-1970 San Francisco as a background.I still can remember the opening shot at the top of Hyde St. with the O'Farrell,Jones & Hyde cable car going down the hill as the old Ford squad car comes up and turns into Lombard St.Later when the show was renamed "Lineup" the scene was the same except a Dodge was used as the squad car and the cable car had changed to a Powell & Hyde car.Has anybody noticed the view outside their squad room window is not correct?It was impossible to get that view from the old "Hall of Justice".I think that shot was taken from the top of "Nob Hill".It was still a great show.I wish I could see this show again!!!
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The first adult cop show.
TC-423 December 1998
I remember seeing this show on Friday nights. What I remember best is that they were not kids shows but were still very enjoyable for the whole family. They were very tight half hour shows, in other words, it went by very quick. I wish these shows would be on some cable channel that would show programs of the fifties like this one.
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redryan6416 May 2007
As in most all other sorts of businesses, in Hollywood,imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Observing that which has worked well for your competitors and trying to emulate whatever 'it' is, is a natural behaviour and part of our analytical process. Only when taken to extreme would it be considered improper.

We can only imagine a top level conference held at the HQ's of the CBS Television Network, some time in 1952 or'53. The CEO would be presiding over the meeting, which would include Department Heads, associated Producers from Series already airing. There would be various types of Gofers and Hangers-on. Lastly, we would also have a full number of what we now call 'the Suits' (the Lawyers) and the Bean Counters (Accountants).

The subject of this meeting would beg the question, Why can't we at the Columbia Broadcasting System have a Cop show to be as good and popular as NBC's DRAGNET with Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday? The project is eventually given to Producer Jaimie Del Valle, who has had some experience in producing shows, going back to his pre video days to the "Old Time Radio" dramas.

Mr. Del Valle hits the ball right out of the park by coming up with what we could probably call 'CBS's Dragnet'. It is a series that would prove to be similar, but not a copy. It would have a realistic style, but one that was its own.

The Del Valle produced series is of course, THE LINEUP. It was shown originally on Friday evenings, not going toe to toe with DRAGNET, which dominated NBC'S Thursday nights.* The series did a lot of location shooting right there in San Francsco. There were a lot of sets used for interiors mainly, like their office in San Francisco Police Headquarters. Their desk sat directly in front on of the circular, almost port hole like windows that looked like a gunners' turret on a B 29.

The cast for this San Francisco Police show was staffed with a roll call of experienced character/supporting actors. These guys would insure a most acceptable final product. Warner Anderson was the lead as Lt. Guthrie. Tom Tully portrayed the partner, Inspector Grebb.** Marshall Read was a regular as Inspector Asher. Bill Kennedy portrayed their boss, the Captain. (There were some others, just can't think of 'em now!) The music was very good and both the incidental music and the theme were recorded for this city and not just canned musical ques and moods from some music service outfit. The Theme in particular was very fine and most memorable, being a variation of a theme from "THE PLANETS" by Gustav Holst, definitely a Classical derivative.*** The formula required that all the above be skillfully blended together with some good, believable scripts-based on cases and incidents culled from real life files of the San Francisco Police Department.

Each episode would start with a snippet of the story, a little appetizer, if you will. This set the stage for what is to come later.****Next, the scene would dissolve into the trademark opening scene of the Downtown of San Frasncisco, with the Detectives' Black, 1950, Ford 4 door slowly climbing up the street to the summit (top) of the hill, only to turn left and start down the other side of the huge mound, then down again.

During the opening of THE LINEUP, the voice over Announcer***** would,in addition to giving verbal accompaniment to the graphic titles, tell the sponsors name. This was still the age of strong sponsor identification. I recall that two alternating sponsors one season were Viceroy Cigarettes and O'Cedar Sponge Mops.

Just about every weekly episode (but oddly not one that's my favourite) would involve the scene at the big Lineup at Police HQ's, with the victim's brought in to view basically all the arrestees for any offense of a serious nature. Usually Inspector Grebb (Tom Tully) did the report reading, describing to the victim/complainants just what were the circumstances of each arrest.

Once again, THE LINEUP managed to give CBS and the televiewing public a cop show with a certain realistic look and sound to it. But unlike DRAGNET's rapid fire, staccato dialog, THE LINEUP slowed it down, which worked quite well for the pair of Police Detectives, who reminded one of, if not one's Father,at least a couple of our dear Uncles.

Me thinks that both CBS and the viewing public were much better off than before. After all, there were now two top cop shows on the air. Mr.Del Valle, the production crew and cast most definitely succeeded in doing what they set out to do.

UPDATE: November 1, 2007. Like rival program, "DRAGNET", "THE LINEUP" had also gotten its start on Radio!

* DRAGNET was a staple on Thursday evening, where along with YOU BET YOUR LIFE with Groucho Marx, it gave NBC one up on 1st Place in the Nielsen Ratings. In fact, being so identified with that day of the week was the Jack Webb revived DRAGNET in 1967, NBC used the catch phrase of "Friday is coming to Thursday!", as a promo.

** Messrs. Anderson and Tully brought with them many years experience in supporting and character roles. They worked very well together, perhaps from working on several motion pictures together, like DESTINATION TOKYO and THE CAINE MUTINY.

*** The opening theme was given a slight variation, sans voice over in the syndicated re-runs, which were distributed and shown under the title SAN FRANCISCO BEAT.

**** This is the same kind of opening that has been so well used by Producer Dick Wolf in his long running Cop Show, LAW & ORDER over the NBC TV Network.

***** Announcer, that would be Art Gilmore, who, in addition to this announcer gig, did so many movie trailers. He also, coincidentally did some announcing (along with George Fenimen) and acting on DRAGNET.
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A great series
petet10920 February 2005
I remember watching it when I was a kid. This show was the basis for all the later partner police stories such as Streets of San Francisco and others. I like Tom Tully and Warner Anderson together - kinda like Joe Friday and Frank Smith from Dragnet. This show provided a later rematch for these two actors - they worked together in the 1943 movie "Destination Tokyo" where Warner Anderson was an Officer and Tom Tully was the enlisted man. They kept this relationship in The Line-Up - the scariest part was in the opening credit when all of a sudden you see the car come up over the top of the hill and make a quick left turn - used to scare me to death. Looked like a 1949-1951 ford. I would like to see this show in reruns sometime.
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Old San Francisco
jglapin27 January 2007
I was raised in SF during the years of this TV series. The outdoor scenes of the old city before the high rise buildings, the 1950 Ford sedan the two detectives drove, the old SFPD telephone call boxes (two way radios in police cars were just coming in. Police cars had radio receivers but not a transmitter. They would receive a message over the radio and then hunt down a blue painted police telephone call box to reach HQs), the overcoats and hats, the old Hall of Justice building, the dignified and grave manner of Inspector Grebb and Lt. Guthrie, all of this is long gone and very nostalgic. The SFPD of Chiefs Ahern and Cahill is a long way from the multi-ethnic, multi-gendered SFPD pf today. When this TV series was filmed the SFPD was largely a club of Irish American gentlemen. And it was a good thing, too, to be sure! I am afraid the video masters of this show have long since decayed along with "Highway Patrol".
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What I remember most
dencar_122 April 2009
April, 2009

What I remember most about THE LINEUP is the final roll of credits. You'd see a slow dramatic panorama of San Francisco at that time, mid 1950's, as the theme song pounded over the view. At that time Coit Tower was the tallest point in the skyline. Then you'd hear the voice over express thanks to San Francisco Chief of Police, think it was Tom Cahill at that time--but I also recall that it may have been Patrick Duffy in the earlier days of the series.

My father had a jewelry store on Columbus Ave. in North Beach and the shop flashed by once in a scene from an episode.

Yes, the '49 Ford coming up the street in the opening sequence with Tom Tully driving and Warner Anderson looking out. And that theme song again.

I just watched a part of an episode on You Tube from 1958. But nothing comes up if you type in the series title: But you will get it by typing in "1957 Dodge and 1957 Plymouth." It features Richard Jeckel, Jr., as a kid; and a very young Eli Walach. Good chase scene that shows the Embarcadero under construction; Sutros near Playland; and shots of the bridge.

Dennis Caracciolo April, 2009
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One day this great series and movie should be released on DVD!!
valdezben25 August 2007
You figure since streets of San Francisco, the untouchables, swat, Hawaii five-o, and the fugitive are all put on DVD the that San Francisco beat should also see the light of day hopefully. The movie "THE LINEUP" is a great movie seeing old school San Francisco and also included with the old cars seeing those old GM, FORDS, DODGE cars is really cool if their are two productions that should be on DVD are 1. SAN FRANCISCO BEAT TV SERIES 2. THE LINEUP MOVIE 1958 , i was able to get the movie poster at a collectors show last year i had heard that Highway Patrol with Broadrick Crawford might be coming to DVD sometime soon.
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What a long time ago!
gmr-410 October 2001
I can vaguely remember THE LINEUP. It surprises me that the show lasted until 1960; I would have thought a couple of years earlier. There is only one episode I can clearly recall, about two killers -- the old one who scrupulously recorded the victims' last words -- and their young hot-shot wheel man. [SAN FRANCISCO BEAT] always seemed pretty good to a kid, and I would like to see some episodes now.
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Supreme Court Outlaws "The Lineup"
Toobin6 June 2012
This show had a rather leisurely aspect that I enjoyed on our first TV in the 50s. Dragnet was tenser. Suspect whines: Hey, I want to see a lawyer. Friday: Don't worry... Suspect: Huh? Friday: You'll need one! (Dum da dumb dumb) The Lineup featured a row of lowlifes on the police stage with an ironic Greb officiating: OK, next is Harry Jones... step forward, Harry. Take off your hat. Seems you got into a little trouble last night, Harry, got caught with your hand in a safe where it didn't belong. How'd that happen? Suspect: Ahh, it's a bum rap. Greb: Sure, Harry, that's what they all say...OK step back. The witness wasn't peeking through a one-way mirror, but sat in the audience, and the suspect was identified by name and crime. No way that would hold up today. Of course, like Dragnet terse justice was essential in a half-hour show. After the last commercial they had a a really short wrap-up: Victim: Lieutenant, what's going to happen to Smith? Guthrie: Oh, he was sentenced today. Gas chamber. The End. Followed by 20 years of appeals.
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The Narcotics Addict Robberies "San Fran Beat"
gordonl5629 March 2007
I managed to dig up a few of these great oldies. Here is a review of one of them.

Warner Anderson and Tom Tully play a pair of San Francisco Police detectives in this 50's standard. The two are assigned to find who is behind a string of armed robberies. The bandits simply walk in, calmly stick a gun in the clerks face and ask for the cash. The victims are so frightened that not one of them can give the police an accurate description. The police catch a break though when a witness catches the plate number off the get-away car. They trace the car to a rental outfit. They then follow the leads to a less than sober woman who tells the detectives her new boyfriend had borrowed the car. This info leads them to a seedy rundown hotel. A talk with the desk clerk gets them a room number. A quick boot to the door and the detectives catch a man laying out the doings for a drug fix. As they are slapping the cuffs on the first suspect, the second shows up with the heroin. A gun is stuck in his face for a change as he is relieved of the drugs and his pistol. The two are drug addicts and the string of hold-ups were to feed the habit. This episode was directed by Felix Feist who did the noirs DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE, THE THREAT, TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY and THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS. A DRAGNET style police procedural with the added bonus of great location shooting.
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