Old Time Radio: Dragnet with Jack Webb
The Big Escape (I)
Originally aired January 5, 1950
To listen, go to this page:
and click on episode no. 26, Big Escape

Note: This radio drama was first broadcast in 1950, so the sound quality is not the best, though most of it should be more or less understandable. Earphones may help you hear it more clearly. In addition to less than ideal sound quality, the language is difficult. There is quite a bit of slang in this program, and lots of very formal legal language. The slang expressions you should be able to guess from context or find in a slang dictionary (e.g. The Online Slang Dictionary). It is not necessary to understand the formal legal language; just try to get the main idea of what's happening. In any case, however, most of the difficult or unclear words and expressions are provided for you in the vocabulary list (some items are missing because I can't hear them clearly myself), so if you do some dictionary work ahead of time, then follow along in the vocabulary as you listen, you should be able to get most of what's going on. You might want to do this assignments in a few sessions rather than all at once, since it is a bit more demanding than some listening assignments we've done so far. Those of you studying law should especially benefit from this selection.


to protect the innocent
Fatima cigarettes
to bring = sponsor (a program)
detective sergeant
to be assigned to
robbery detail
armed bandits
to rob
jewelry store

to contain
Turkish and domestic tobaccos
to blend
extra mild
flavor and aroma
to double and redouble

documented drama
actual crime
in cooperation with
Los Angeles Police Department
to travel step by step
on the side of the law
through an actual case
official police files
from beginning to end
from crime to punishment
police force
in action

night watch
out of robbery detail
Ben Romero
Thad Brown
chief of detectives

on my way over from
City Hall
Georgia Street Receiving Hospital
treatment room
It hurt for a while.
Fixed with a grain of morphine and Novocain injection.
about ready to
take it out
soon as I get
to clean
soap and water
alcohol sponge, please
shallow, penetrating wound
deltoid area
the slug's lodged in the soft tissue right here
no bones...on it
Feel OK?
Feel better.
Let's see now.
Where'd you leave Tyler, Joe?
interrogation room
Reynolds and Thompson are with him.
Let me have the probe, Nurse.
There. Anything the matter?
that's it
Hear that?
I located the slug with a probe.
Nurse, forceps.
Here we go.
Hold it steady.
You call your wife?
(This section is very unclear. Don't worry if you don't understand most of it - it's not too important to the story. Later parts are clearer.)

Give it to me. I will.
Nurse, sterile saline solution.
Better get going.
How long did you know this Tyler?
Before he went wrong, I mean.
to help to line up a job when he got out
Sure is funny, meeting a friend of yours pulling an armed robbery.
I was just surprised.
to drive you home when the doc's finished here
Let's go back to the office and talk to Tyler.
to stay right here
to release
only a flesh wound
to take chances
gunshot wounds
for infection to set in
to be laid up
the pension committee
sounds like an order
pick him up
Do you need anything?
phone to tell my wife to tell her I won't be home for dinner

Max Tyler
medium build
twin boys
to serve in the army
when the war finished

on the force
to fit him
small trouble
to grow fast
to surprise
to hold up
Main Street
to exchange shots
holdup man
to escape
to apprehend
Glad you got here.
Tyler says he won't talk to anybody...
to stand by
if you need anything
You're in deep this time.
You shot a cop.
I didn't.
It was the guy that was with me.
I didn't fire once.
You were in on the job.
Don't expect presents.
Glad you came back.
same department
no alibis
I just didn't realize...
won't buy it
to pick s.o. up for
bum checks
to pass
to hang some paper
I'm no hood.
I needed dough.
Dorothy and the kids
I need a break.
I went to bat for you.
to get off with
Then you turn up with another caper.
One free ride's enough for anybody.
Now that's it.
I'll serve my time.
to owe
to ask s.o. a favor
to hook s.o. on s.t.
to do one's time
to stay with relatives
out in Englewood
to keep an eye on them
dough = money
Dorothy can work.
kinda watch out for them
give 'em a break
it's not their fault
Will you do it, Joe?
Anything you want, guy.
straight story
George Cresta
Red Owl bar
to hang out
to give a list of
he sure hooked me in
rough stuff
S & W .38 (gun)
to jam the gun in my hand
to get s.t. out of sight
to rope me into this
second time around
it sounds like one
I got nothing coming.
a full statement on the holdup
anything you say
you got the feeling too late

municipal court
to set bail at
came his preliminary hearing
superior court
to enter a plea
not guilty
to set a date
the hunt for
to go on
there wasn't a sign of him
to have no lead on
all points bulletin
to bring in nothing
to hold a trial
to be subpoenaed to appear
the victim
to testify
to be questioned by
the prosecutor
the counsel for the defense
to testify
to leave the stand
If it please Your Honor
to approach the bench
I wonder what that's all about.
Something's up.
George is shaking one's head
public defender
counsel's table
counsel for the defense
it is my client's desire
to change his plea to guilty
Will the defendant rise
to face the court
true name
City and County of Los Angeles
State of California
robbery of the first degree
to plead/pled
not guilty
the charge in question
to change that plea
to reach this decision
of your own free will
Was there no force employed,
no promise of gratuity or reward
to induce you to reach this decision?
to be arraigned
first degree
as set forth in this information
How do you now plead?
it is stipulated that
at the time of the commission of the robbery
the defendant
to be armed with a deadly weapon
to wit, a revolver
so stipulated
The court fixes the degree of robbery is robbery in the first degree.
in the interest of justice
the people move
to dismiss
count two
assault with a deadly weapon
waive the time for sentencing
to ask that he be sentenced immediately
just a moment
you did enter the premises
and there did attempt
the felonious (adj. of 'felony')
taking of personal property
in the possession of another
from his person and immediate presence
and against his will
further, said attempt was made
while you were armed with
a dangerous and deadly weapon
Max Tyler
this court finds you guilty
statement of this court
to return to the county jail
the sheriff will transfer you
state penitentiary
to serve the sentence
as prescribed by law
court recessed

Miss Tyler
over there
to take s.t. pretty hard
I'll give it to you straight.
you drank right along with him
you don't deserve those kids
Don't make it harder.
all alone

to be delivered to
San Quentin State Penitentiary
to serve his term
telephone operator
to help s.o.
to go by
the search
to go on
to fail to uncover a single lead

to check in for work as usual
Did you pick up...
a letter in your box
clean record
fair job
prison library
for parole
to keep one's nose clean
to go to bat for
to see anything in s.o.
Maybe a lot of people have given him the same.
I wouldn't trust him with dirty laundry.
George Cresta
Jessie Street
rooming house
to interview
mug shot
stand clear
have a look
to pass out
to slip the cuffs on
he'll have a big hangover
he'll have a long time to get over it
on suspicion of
Stan Brown
to come up for parole
parole board
not to have much of a break
I was off both him and his wife.
to give a tip
up at Q (= San Quentin)
to stick your chin out
helping a con with a parole
a big risk
to need direction
to get it from all sides
to deserve another chance

Listening comprehension questions:
1. Explain: 'Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent'. (This is a well-known cliché from the Dragnet series that is repeated before each show. It is still quoted today.)
2. Why do you think they use the second person singular at the beginning of the show to introduce the case to be presented?
3. Why is it 'cold in Los Angeles'? What time of day is it?
4. What happened to Sergeant Friday's partner, Ben Romero?
5. How did Friday know Max Tyler?
6. Why did Tyler insist on talking only to Sergeant Friday? Did Friday agree to Tyler's request?
7. Why did Tyler say he committed this crime? Does Friday believe him? How did Tyler help Friday?
8. What is a stenographer? Are these still used in courts of law today?
9. What plea did Tyler enter at his first trial? At his second trial?
10. Why did Tyler's lawyer request that the second charge, that of 'assault with a deadly weapon', be dropped? Was the request granted?
11. What charge was Tyler found guilty of? Which prison was he sent to?
12. What does it mean to 'take something pretty hard'?
13. Does Friday sympathize with Dorothy when she's crying? Why or why not?
14. How is Tyler doing in jail?
15. What does it look like Friday is doing for Tyler?
16. How did Friday and Romero finally apprehend George Cresta after he had eluded police for so long?
17. How does Friday's supervisor feel about Friday's interest in Tyler?

To Part 2