For a change of pace, we’re going to shift from big screen to little in order to check out the way film noir style made its way into in late 50’s and early 60’s American television (via both film and radio, I should add). We’ll see the familiar hard-boiled dicks, mobsters, and scaled-down versions of the femme fatale, played out against urban landscapes of both splendor and savagery. Because a series needs to keep its hero alive, the shows may pull a few punches, but there’s plenty of action.

Here’s a guide to the four episodes we’ll watch from among the half-hour noirsque shows you might see on your set from ’58-’60, with emphasis (after the first show) on one-season wonders:


Series: Peter Gunn

Season/Episode: (1.1, 1958) “The Kill”

Protagonist: Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn

Occupation: private investigator and sophisticate

Setting: Nameless fictional riverfront city

Sidekicks/Sweethearts: Herschel Bernardi as Lt. Jacoby; Lola Albright as singer/girlfriend Edie Hart

Longevity: 1958-1961 (114 episodes)


Series: Johnny Staccato

Season/Episode: (1.1, 1959) “The Naked Truth” (apologies for subtitles)

Protagonist: John Cassavetes as Johnny Staccato (also directed 5 episodes)

Occupation: Jazz pianist and private detective

Setting: New York City

Longevity: 1959-60 (27 episodes)


Series: Dante

Season/Episode: (1.8, 1960) “The Bavarian Barbarians”

Protagonist: Howard Duff as Willie Dante

Occupation: Nightclub owner and former gambler

Setting: San Francisco

Sidekicks/Sweethearts: Alan Mowbray as Stewart Styles (maitre d’); Tom D’Andrea as Biff (right hand man); Mort Mills as Lt. Bob Malone

Longevity: 1960-61 (26 episodes)


Series: Man with a Camera

Season/Episode: (2.10, 1960) “The Picture War”

Protagonist: Charles Bronson as Mike Kovac

Occupation: risk-taking photographer for hire

Setting: New York City

Longevity: 1958-59; 1959-60 (26 episodes)

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Join us Sunday, 3/15 at 9pm EST for #BNoirDetour TV Noir!

Link for the full four-show line-up: