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DVD Review: Dangerous Assignment Starring Brian Donlevy

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Dangerous Assignment is a four-DVD set containing 32 of the original 39 episodes of a weekly series that appeared on television between September 1952 and June 1953. The star of all the episodes was Brian Donlevy, a famous TV and movie actor of the day.

It also had a pretty good cast of well-known (at the time) supporting actors that some old TV buffs may recognize, including Hugh Beaumont, Ralph Moody, Lyle Talbot, Strother Martin, Adele Jergins, Harry Guardino, Michael Ansara (who later went on to play Cochise in the highly successful Broken Arrow TV series, as well as many other TV and movie roles), Henry Rowland, Elena Verdugo, Frances Rafferty, and William Boyett, some in multiple episodes.

The stories take place in various cities of the world and have a variety of plots, all with the common theme of the star of the show being the hero. Obviously, some of the plots would seem tame and amusing to today’s viewers, rather than dramatic and dangerous as they were to audiences of the day, but at the time they were made they were gripping, action-packed episodes that people looked forward to watching every week. One thing that audiences of today will particularly notice is that the hero smokes in every episode, anathema in most of today’s movies and television shows, particularly for the hero.

Brian Donlevy plays Steve Mitchell, an undercover operator, suave and debonair, working for some vague, unnamed US government agency as a sort of troubleshooter/jack of all trades, getting himself into a different sort of jam every week, and skillfully, sometimes luckily, out of trouble, all in thirty minutes. He was the James Bond of the small screen before there was a James Bond of the big screen, but he’s lacking the gadgets that Bond has. There’s usually a sexy, Mata Hari type who he manages to run into in every episode as well, and who is usually in some way involved in the plot.

Overall, the stories are fairly simplistic, the plots mostly dealing with ordinary crime as opposed to something the usual international operator would get into today. The locales are all shot on Hollywood sets, except for the occasional, vague location shot to add authentic flavor. It was typical television fare for the era, not big-budget enough to compete with the more successful, similar type series such as Passport to Danger which starred César Romero. Still, it’s a pretty good series with good acting for the most part.

You can find short summaries of each the episodes, along with supporting casts, at

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