Dragnet (theme music)

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Single by Ray Anthony
Released 1953 (1953)
Genre Theme song, instrumental, big band
Length 2:52
Writer(s) Walter Schumann

"Dragnet" is an instrumental theme from the radio and television show of the same name. It was composed by Walter Schumann for the radio show, and was also used on the subsequent television series and later syndication of the TV series under the name "Badge 714". The theme is in two parts: an opening signature "Main Title" (the ominous "Dum - - - de - DUM - DUM") and the "Dragnet March" used over the end credits.

A 1953 recording by the Ray Anthony band that combined the "Main Title" and "Dragnet March" became a popular music chart hit (reaching #2 on the Billboard chart).

After the theme became a chart hit, the publishers of the score for the 1946 film version of The Killers composed by Miklós Rózsa challenged the authorship of the copyright of the Dragnet "Main Title". They contended that Walter Schumann had visited the sound stage in 1946 when Miklós Rózsa was recording "The Killers", and so had picked up (perhaps subconsciously) the melody of a cue for that film known as "Danger Ahead". A settlement between publishers resolved the case by allowing both composers and publishers to share the royalties for the short opening signature "Main Title", which became known as "Danger Ahead" after that. The "Dragnet March" remained the exclusive composition of Schumann.

Film and television composer Nathan Scott, who began orchestrating for Schumann beginning in 1952, later became Dragnet's second composer following Schumann's departure from the series.[1]

The theme (both sections, including "Danger Ahead" and the "Dragnet March") was later covered by the band Art of Noise to become the theme music for the 1987 film based on the TV show. Its familiar opening signature was also adopted as a jingle for Tums antacid medication. The version performed by the Frank Chacksfield Orchestra was used by Radio Veronica as the opening theme to the Dutch Top 40 and Tipparade.

A dramatic rendition of the opening signature can be heard at the beginning of each stage in the 1980 video game Wizard of Wor, with the last note occurring on the "DOUBLE SCORE DUNGEON" screen.

Stanley R. Lee wrote a mystery, Dunn's Conundrum,[2] whose title sounds like the opening signature.

A parody of the theme opened the 1967 Eric Burdon and The Animals hit "San Franciscan Nights". A sample of it was used in the 1973 song "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" by First Choice.

The 2003 Dick Wolf-produced version of Dragnet used a modified version of the "Danger Ahead" theme composed by Mike Post.

A variant on the Main Title is used in the video game Donkey Kong.

The opening signature is frequently played during NHL hockey games by the home team (Detroit is one example) whenever a member of the opposing team has drawn a penalty.

WFAN uses the theme during its 20/20 traffic reports.

Brødrene Dal, a Norwegian TV show used a variant of this symbolic tune to mark the end of their episodes.

Pitfall! By Activision uses the opening signature when the main character is killed in the game.

In the Cat in the Hat live-action film, this theme is played when Things 1 and 2 dressed as the police stop Joan Walden and Larry McQuinn who are in her car.


  1. ^ Burlingame, Jon (2010-03-03). "Nathan Scott, 94, scored TV shows - Composer's credits included 'Dragnet,' 'Lassie'". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  2. ^ Lee, Stan (1985). Dunn's Conundrum. New York: Harper & Row. 

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