Highway Patrol (TV Series 1955–1959) Poster


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A childhood influence
crazy-1221 May 1999
This show was my very favorite as a boy, and had such an influence on me, that I grew up to become a Pennsylvania State Trooper. I recently retired from the force after a rewarding career. The stories and action of the Highway Patrol always showed the good guys, the police, prevailing over the bad guys. I also enjoyed the open highway atmosphere in which these stories took place. I would very dearly love to get tapes of this show for old times sake, but have not been able to do so.
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Most Excellent TV show.
Alien-5915 October 2000
The music. Do you remember the starting theme? It defined action, and a warning. Too bad the series isn't run more often. Very hard to find anywhere. It used to be on a local private station KOFY-TV 20 out of San Francisco, but our local service provider didn't want to use channel 20 anymore, so we lost out. I remember watching the series as a child in Seattle, and never missed a show. I now live next door to a CHP Officer and it's strange. A very nice family man, couldn't ask for better neighbors. My 2 nephews are now enrolled in the CHP Cadet Explorer program and I help them study the 10 codes. I'll never forget that opening music to "Highway Patrol". Those of you who have heard it, know what I mean.
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John L.10 August 2001
This series did for the California Highway Patrol what "Dragnet" did for the LAPD; i.e. established a mythology and a standard of professional conduct. I knew two retired CHP officers (both retired in the late 1960s) who loved this series. It is no small joke that in the Dan Aykroyd movie comedy Dragnet, Harry Morgan is watching "Highway Patrol" on TV when Aykroyd's character calls him on the phone. I, too, wish the old tapes had been saved for posterity.
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Nostalgic for quality
ivan-2230 June 2001
I remember watching this series with great fascination as a youngster in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1962. We didn't have a TV set yet, but we looked at shop windows displaying TV sets. In Spanish it was called "Patrulla de Caminos". Although I can't give a current evaluation of its quality, I do remember liking this show much more than others. It's a great shame that America, who gave us so much quality TV doesn't appreciate it enough to show it to new generations. How else can vintage TV and films be "preserved" except by showing the stuff? There's too much fascination with new, with color and high resolution than with QUALITY. But even regardless of quality, exposure to "old stuff" has its own charm. Show the darned show, will you! And show "Mama" and "The Goldbergs" and "Our Miss Brooks" and all the golden oldies that I missed. I started watching TV on a regular basis at age 23!!! I need to catch up with the old shows I missed, and which are so much better than the recent ones.
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Great Film. Used for training film
jbdavis30 June 2001
I agree with the other comments about how good a show HIghway Patrol was. I herd that it was used as a training film by some Mexican Police. Probably the best tribute a show could have.
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Crawford was believable and perfect for his part.
illusiondweller27 December 2005
There has been much fun made of the part played by Broderick Crawford---and much denigration accorded the show in general. I have a complete collection of the series. I watch them when I need a fix from the current workaday world of crime now overwhelming law-enforcement...and the courts allowing it to happen.

Crawford, whose mom and dad worked the Vaudeville circuit, was a very talented and forceful visage in "Highway Patrol". One didn't have to look like Clark Gable in order to portray a dedicated cop. No, he wasn't pretty. Yes, he looked like an unmade bed. But, that just added authenticity to the show in my 15-19 year old (at the time) eyes.

I would have hated being interrogated by him even if I hadn't done anything wrong. Think about how much more latitude the first line of law-enforcement had during that show's time. It started four years before the passage of the Miranda Act. Folks who got too chirpy with "the law" in those days, learned a pretty good lesson before they even got locked up. Wish it still held true. Buddy Buchanan
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Broderick The Main Man
mibailiff25 March 2001
This is an unforgetable series. Broderick Crawford set the standard for toughness with a badge. Sgt. Joe Friday couldn't carry Dan Matthews socks...Broderick was tough, scary and that rapid fire dialogue is burned into the memory of anyone who even thought for a nano-second of being a cop and interrogating a suspect. This is an American legand. Long Live ZIV!
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I was a car nut at the time, and still am.
TC-423 December 1998
I was about 14 when this show first aired and like most teenagers I used to like the cars and the car chases. My uncle had a 1955 Buick Century hardtop and I would pretend that it was a Highway Patrol Car. I saw a few poor copies lately and the production values were rough but I still wish I had some good copies of the shows. Too bad they are not on video.
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I could watch this show for hours!...
AlsExGal18 May 2013
... and in fact I've been doing just that with the new DVD releases of the show! Each episode was built for a half-hour TV slot in the 1950's, so in fact they run about 25 minutes apiece. I think they kept things quite inventive with all kinds of different crimes, with the chief of Highway Patrol, Dan Matthews, played by Broderick Crawford, heading the investigation in each case. You've got truck hijackers stopping their prey by faking accidents, a couple of brothers robbing stores and restaurants that cash payroll checks and using a hot-rod to outrun the police, and even a typhoid carrier. You can start watching in any episode since there is really no story continuity to trip you up. Dan Matthews is a very impersonal presence as he outsmarts the crooks, questions witnesses that are often overly chatty about things that have nothing to do with the crime, and sets up road blocks that often catch the criminal. Ironically, most of the "backstory" in each episode usually involves the criminals, often one of which is rather a reluctant accomplice and wants to give himself/herself up.

The atmosphere is great with all of those shots of the open road and those late 50's cars, any one of which makes today's cars look like dixie cups on wheels. Then there are all of those independent motels, cafés, and gas stations, just a brief time before they all became just a series of plain vanilla homogenized chains. Although it is never clearly stated that this is the California Highway Patrol, it is implied by the geography and some of the cities mentioned. Check it out if you are a fan of 50's TV.
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Okay, Now Everybody, "DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN -DUN..." What's that? It's the theme song, silly!
redryan646 November 2007
In 1950's Television, Syndicating of TV half-hours was truly was big business. By 'Syndication' we mean the sale of programming to individual stations in different markets for showing over said station at the individual managers' pleasure. This is much like a newspaper syndicate distributes comic strips or feature articles to various papers.* And the King of these Syndicated programs was ZIV Television Productions. What with Such entries as "SEA HUNT"', "SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE", "I LED THREE LIVES", "MacKENZIE'S RAIDERS", "WEST POINT" and others. They racked 'em up and kept 'em going', and in the process, became the independent TV stations' best friend.

Although syndicated shows were usually looked down upon as being sub-par to the typical Network Programming, ZIV managed to get some shows out there that topped the "Webs" (Show Biz Jargon for Network) showings. Our featured Highway Patrol show was one of the most successful series in syndication, and was so for the vast majority of its run.

The producers took a half hour and managed to weave in all kinds of criminal activity, all with Captain Dan Matthews (Broderick Crawford, Oscar Winner in 1950 for his lead performance in ALL THE KING'S MEN. There were many rank and file Patrolmen, who had come and gone during the series life on the air, and B.S.** But at least one member of the Highway Patrol was destined to become a career man in Law Enforcement. That Guy was William Boyett, a burly, athletically built sort of "Man's Man" of an actor who portrayed Sgt. Ken Williams. A few years later, in A.D. 1968, the rugged character actor retained his Rank of Sergeant, but being transferred to the Los Angeles Police Department and became Sergeant MacDonald on the non-syndicated Drama of Uniformed Big City Cops in Jack Webb's and R.A. Cinader's Mark VII, Ltd. & Universal Studios "ADAM 12" (1968-75).

As far as the filming, Captain Matthews*** & Company were for the most part (if not completely) on location. These locations would be on the open Highways in Southern California, and in the Truck Stops, Greasy Spoon Grills, Public Kybos and the small towns dotting each route, like Pearls on a necklace. For this the series closely resembled the over-all look of films like WHITE HEAT, THE WILD ONE and so many of those American International epics that kept the Drive In Theatres.

And as far as the realism is concerned we must remember that all Policemen, regardless of their locale or type of assignment, can and do run into all sorts of law-breaking and wrong-doers. Although the real Highway Patrols/State Police are usually assigned to the safe-guarding the highways and byways of our States, with the particular special attention to Traffic Enforcement, Accident Investigation and Safety Inspections of Commercial Traffic.

And please remember, there is no such thing as that "Routine Traffic Stop" that we hear so much about on the 10:00 Newscast. The vast majority of serious, forcible felonies committed in the U.S. make some use of the automobile in facilitating their anti-social behaviour. A Cop doesn't know who he's stopping, so cut him some slack the next time when you're stopped.

Who knows, maybe you'll even get a pass! NOTE:* In reality, the series are not "sold"to the individual stations, but rather rented or leased for a certain period of time.

NOTE:** Now relax, it's not that B.S.but rather the abbreviation for "Before Syndication". Re-runs of successful shows would be sent out via the syndication route to the individual stations for another bite at the Old Apple. Often these re-run episodes had alternate series titles; like "BADGE 714" for "DRAGNET". "SAN FRANCISCO BEAT" for "THE LINEUP" and for our "HIGHWAY PATROL", we had "10-4", Captain Matthews's favourite tag-line.

NOTE*** Broderick Crawford's Captain Dan Matthews became so much of a figure in American Pop Culture, that he made an uncredited appearance as himself, a motorist stopped by Ponch and John for traffic violation! That was in the 9th episode that first year entitled, "Hustle"
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Old Cars
Ritag29 January 2014
Although I often watch this show because I remember watching it as a little girl and still enjoy the plots and acting, my husband watches because he enjoys seeing all of the 1950's cars. He drools over them because they are in pristine condition, a condition that is impossible to find even at car shows. He especially likes the the late 50's Chrysler Corporation cars. He also enjoys seeing the Los Angeles area locations, especially Griffith Park where so many of the chases take place. He also enjoys all of the train stations. Many of them are no longer there, and the ones that remain aren't in the beautiful condition they are in this show. Surprisingly quite a few shows have people getting on and off passenger trains. I would recommend this show if you enjoy police procedural and 1950's ambiance.
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A great show
jamesrl487 June 2002
"Whenever the laws of many states are broken, a fully organized organization swings into action. They may be called the Troopers,the Rangers,the State Police or the HIGHWAY PATROL." This is how each show started and I remember it almost fifty years later. My dad's sold Fords at the time and he didn't like the Buick's and Oldsmobiles saying. "Police forces don't drive high priced cars." It was a really good show. I'd like to see it again.
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Fond memories of this show during a difficult time
pozy26 June 2002
I remember watching reruns of Highway Patrol with my mother back in 1973 that aired from Philadelphia, PA on a syndicated station at 9:00 every morning. I loved seeing Broderick Crawford (who was from Philadelphia) and his gravely voice and those lovely jet black patrol cars, in glorious black and white. Right after this show was over we switched the channel to the Senate Watergate hearings which were fascinating, to say the least.
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America Back then and today
mschuetz229 September 2011
I was a viewer of this show when it originally aired. Now it's one of the few shows I record to view on Time Warner Cable.

It shows small town 50's USA with it's shops, businesses, cafes, motels and back roads in CA.

I am amused by the "machine gun fire" speaking by Broderick Crawford even when giving orders to subordinates, I have never heard one of them ask of him "Would you repeat that, and speak a little slower and a bit more succinctly?" It also is an amazing look into the social fiber of America at that time, it showed an angry Korean Veteran that couldn't find a job using his faked knowledge of bazookas to help do robberies, innocent vacationing honeymooners being kidnapped as well as interesting dialogue.

Do you wonder if American TV today is showing a positive or repulsive, ugly America to the rest of the world? Should it matter?
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A Duly Authorized Law Enforcement Agency
telegonus12 November 2010
Nearly everyone who grew up watching Highway Patrol remembers its opening stentorian narration, "Whenever the laws of any state are broken a duly authorized law enforcement agency swings into action...". Fifty years ago this show was everywhere on the small screen, and it remained a favorite in syndication for many years to come.

It's easy to see why. Academy Award winner Broderick Crawford brings his charisma along as chief Dan Mathews, and he appears in every episode. However the semi-doc style of the series emphasizes the story, not the star, thus the focus is seldom on Crawford himself. As Crawford was overweight, drinking heavily at the time, and, to the perceptive viewer, an east coast big city fish out of water in the then still heavily rural California of the 1950s, this is just as well. On the plus side, Crawford was, for reasons I still can't fathom, a riveting performer even when he was doing very little. With a lesser player, this still would have been an excellent show, but it's Crawford's brusque, ineffable authority that puts it over.

The episodes themselves are, from what I've seen of them lately, uniformly good, and some are better than that. Wisely, the producers chose to shake things up a good deal, thus some shows focus on cold-blooded criminals, others on lost children, some deal with cops in trouble, and there are those that feature amateur or accidental criminals, decent people who have, for various reasons, got in over their heads. Producer Fred Ziv filmed this one on the cheap, as was his custom, and he made a fortune from it. The series channels the style of the semi-documentary films Louis de Rochemont made in the late 40s,--House On 92nd Street, Boomerang!, Street With No Name--while the late Art Gilmore's opening and closing narration at times gives the show the feel of old-time radio. Crawford's closing remarks, as himself, not Dan Mathews, are priceless, the most famous one being "leave your blood at the Red Cross, not on the highway".
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Another young kid that went into Law Enforcement
jlharr5 April 2013
I was 12 when this season came out and had already made it clear that I wanted to go into Law Enforcement when I crew up. This show was short but exciting to watch even though all in black and white. We did not know much color back then on TV. Lucky to have a TV. I did spend 20 years as a deputy sheriff in a large county and am thankful for Broderick Crawford though I never could have been like him, he was better.

For anyone who is interested, Amazon.com is now selling all four seasons but season 1 is the only expensive one and the other three are in short supply but at least available.

I only wish the U.S. was like it was back then.
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Compelling 50s TV
tenderlovingtony25 September 2013
"Highway Patrol" episodes are especially compelling because they are almost all action. There is very little talk. Compare it to "Dragnet," which is almost all talk and very little action. "Highway Patrol" episodes generally start with a crime, and when Dan Mathews and his team are called in, they snap to and get busy. There is no banter around the police station.

Part of this is because of the 30-minute format. There just wasn't time to set everything up. They had to use every minute to develop and resolve the story.

The compelling drama makes it hard to get up, even for a minute. I wish TV shows were still like this. "24" was like this, but just about every other crime drama wastes a lot of screen time with banter and nonsense.

Just about every episode of "Highway Patrol" is a good ride.
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Please stay seated inside your car!
jglapin19 June 2009
Buddy Morrow composed and conducted this most effective theme music any TV show will ever have. I saw CHP officers in the 1960s rise from their seats when it was played over a public address system. It may be about as effective as the song "Dixie" in stirring emotions.

I was five years of age when this series hit the air. I watched as often as possible and through the entire series run. As a result I grew up to believe the California Highway Patrol was the finest law enforcement organization ever conceived; totally dedicated to preserving the peace and protecting honest citizens from predation and poor driving habits. Most importantly they accomplished this with an air of efficiency and natural superiority. You were lucky to have one pull you over on the highway to correct your aberrant road behavior. This they did with courtesy and ease. You left the encounter feeling the better for it.

Such is the power of myth.
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Unexplained walking in the camera's eye.
sterlinglevy20 January 2006
For some reason, Broderick Crawford spent a considerable amount of time on most if not all episodes of "Highway Patrol" walking around half of the patrol car and then getting into it. If the camera showed him standing by the passenger door, he'd walk around the front or back to enter the driver's seat. If he was standing just outside the driver's door, he'd first make sure that a uniformed officer was in or approaching the driver's seat, and then walk around the front or back and get into the passenger seat. Other observers have pointed this and similar issues out, independently of myself, over the years.

"Highway Patrol" is now newly available on a local station I can pick up. It's so obvious that all the filming was in California -- and in at least one episode the scenes were clearly in a residential, hilly section of the city of Los Angeles, with LA street signage, and City Hall not far away at all in a background scene. Yet when I saw the show as a kid I knew nothing of such issues. Hence, just as Beaver Cleaver's "Mayfield" was never definitely linked to one state, it was fun to pretend that Crawford and crew provided law enforcement in an unnamed and unnameable state, in a rural area where people knew to call the "highway patrol" for first response. There were and still are areas like that in the U. S.

And, yes, Broderick Crawford still has to walk around the car before he gets in and drives away, usually to the familiar music.
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Lively Action Series
dougdoepke26 October 2017
Good action series from the 50's. There were a number of law enforcement programs at the time, Dragnet, The Line-Up, State Trooper, et al. Highway Patrol, however, lasted four years, an unusual span amidst its many competitors. Success certainly didn't come from a telegenic leading man. In fact, I doubt Crawford would have had a shot without the name recognition that an Oscar afforded. Still, his aggressively bluff manner was perfect for the commander's role. To my knowledge, unlike some series (Dragnet), Patrol made no claim to be based on actual cases. Thus writers had free reign.

The 50's was a popular decade for cars of all kinds. I expect another reason for success was action on the highways, where speed and skill prevail. A typical episode included riveting chases or some kind of speedy action. Never mind that highway locations seldom left greater LA with its non-scenic scrublands and mountains. On the other hand, city scenes were usually shot on location as well. Part of the series appeal, I think, came from consistent use of locations, showing 1950's styles and car models.

Plots were usually unremarkable, mainly the kind of kernel (escapes or pursuits of some sort) that drew in Mathews and the Patrol. Generally, casts didn't include name actors or celebrities. That way focus remained on the story and action rather than actors. Even though the series remains mainly a period piece, there's enough entertainment value to keep modern audiences tuning in, as I do. As Mathews would say, "10-4".
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A Time Capsule of America and Cop Culture Before Your Time
BigSkyMax4 February 2020
Made with the cooperation of the California Highway Patrol at first, they soon jumped ship, and for just cause. It was clear, as in Art Gilmore's bare-knuckled narration, that "Highway Patrol" was only a metaphor for any police enforcement agency, including 'the militia' which isn't a state agency at all. The ZIV gods were not interested in stories restricted between two highway lanes. So Broderick Crawford rapidly expanded into performing police duty in the city, the country, and even the air. So much to admire and more to be amazed at in this time capsule of Americana. Look at how rural so much of Los Angeles was, even as late as 1959. Those country shacks are now someone's million-dollar home. Look at the smog covering the hills. Reviews dated 20 years ago are now outdated by technology. Once "lost", this series is now available in a wide variety of formats, including YouTube. I'm watching on METV, who time compress it and edit out Crawford's hey-pal-listen closers, but are still fun. Lots of early career actors to spot. The plots are as bare-bones as HP's detection skills. It seems Crawford's hunches are always right, and he's rarin' to pull out his gat and start blasting away. The body count is pretty high. Google "Fearless Fosdick" if you like. But when your TV screen was only a 13-inch circle, it must have been great fun! Still is.
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Protecting our roads
bkoganbing15 September 2017
20 years before Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox started issuing tickets to motorists on California's highways, we had the Highway Patrol series that starred Broderick Crawford for four years. His role of Inspector Dan Matthews became one of two signature roles for him, the other is his Oscar winner from the big screen Willie Stark in All The King's Men.

This man was a criminal investigator and he commanded searches for criminals on California's highways. Be it looking for a radioactive part or a fleeing fugitive Matthews was out on the job directing the CHIPS officers in whatever case he was assigned.

Crawford's style was no nonsense, a lot like Jack Webb without the staccato speech pattern. The half hour stories were mini- documentaries unto themselves. And in those more innocent days, Crawford always nailed his quarry.

I'm surprised no one ever revived this on the big or small screen.
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Great Series Warning: Spoilers
I see people wanting copies of this program. They are available on DVD. I scored season two, three and four with a total of 6 DVD's per season. There's a total of 72 episodes. I got mine through some small catalog that comes to my mail box a couple times a month. I don't know what/where it is right now. They get tossed after leaving my "bathroom library". With some on-line research, I'm sure they could be found. I love looking at the vintage vehicles although most are new at the time of filming. Ones that stand out are a 1956 Chevy Nomad wagon, lots of Wedge & Hemi-powered Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler products, a vintage small block powered model 'A' hot rod w/a '32 grill in the episode titled "Hot Rod", and others.

Kind of funny that the first season used the same white Ford pick up truck for multiple episodes and different locations. Limited budget I guess. In the "Hot Rod" episode, two "youths" use the car for a fast getaway after armed robberies. After 1 robbery, they "peel out" and are going about 100mph down a rural highway. The driver accidentally hits a granny lady who's standing in the road watching her husband change a flat tire. I mean, he hits her dead on and the next scene shows her lying next to the car with one shoe lying next to her, and she's not bleeding and in one piece. Even her hair is still in place. I laughed out loud! Why? Had she been hit at 100mph, they'd be picking her out of the orchard trees with a stick and a spoon for a 1/4 mile down the road! (not to mention the car would have been totaled!)

Another bit of fun is the tire spinning. These guys, cops and perpetrators alike, cannot seem to start off without "scratching out", usually on dirt. This is where the vintage vehicle fans like me go, "Look! It's got the optional limited slip rear end!" Fun stuff and highly recommended.
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bux20 May 2002
Even when this series made it's first run, I laughed at it. The stories had the Highway Patrol doing EVERYTHING except what the Department's charter called for. I don't think I EVER saw a CHP in the show write a simple ticket-but they DID solve bank robberies, murders, kid-nappings and sundry other crimes, normally assigned to other law enforcement agencies. It is also obvious that Crawford had a serious drinking problem during the show's filming-he often would flub or mumble his lines, or deliver them with little or no conviction, sometimes he even appeared to be stumbling. I once met a CHP Officer that claimed he arrested Crawford for DUI, said it was the toughest thing he ever had to do...he claimed the actor sat in the backseat of the patrol car hollering "TEN FOUR!!" all the way to the station.
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Dated, dated, dated
Poethell12 May 2021
A simply terrible show. Bad acting, bad script equals terrible. Broderick Crawford plays the lead investigator here and he looks like he's on the beer and Pall Malls diet. The idea of him actually apprehending or running down a perp is Pretty slim here.
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