R.I.P. Harry Morgan 1915-2011

Actor Harry Morgan has passed away at the age of 96. He was best known for his role as Colonel Potter on the MASH TV series (and After MASH for the three of you out there that watched that). There are quite a number of his films currently available on instant Netflix as well as his other signature TV role, that of Officer Bill Gannon in Dragnet, 20 episodes of which are on Netflix.

Dragnet (1987) – Rated PG-13

“Los Angeles detective Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd) — a straight-laced cop who can recite the penal code in his sleep — and his new hipster partner, Pep Streebek (Tom Hanks), put their heads together to solve a series of nefarious, religious-cult crimes. While on the trail of a charlatan televangelist (Christopher Plummer), the mismatched duo tussles with a 30-foot anaconda and saves a would-be sacrificial virgin in this parody of the 1950s TV show. “

Well I imagine fans of the ultra-serious Dragnet TV show were not amused by this 1987 parody. It is neither particularly good or bad. Harry Morgan reprises his role of Officer Gannon, here promoted to Captain. Harry would reprise the role one more time on a Simpsons episode.

High Noon (1952) – Not Rated

“Retiring Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) insists on defending his town from a gang of hooligans who are due on the noon train — but he faces the task alone as the cowardly townspeople flee like rats from a sinking ship. Director Fred Zinnemann creates an incredibly tense Western (rightly considered one of the true genre classics) that unfurls in real time — as the clocks on the wall constantly remind us. Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges co-star.”

This movie is an absolute classic as mentioned above. You can watch it as a simple western with the standard tropes – heroic marshal fights long odds and dastardly villains, including one in a black hat. You can also watch it as a polemic against conformity made at the height of the McCarthy era. Still a third way to watch it would be for the incredible cast – not only do you have Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly starring but backing them up are Lon Chaney Jr., Lloyd Bridges, Jack Elam, Lee van Cleef, and of course Harry Morgan. Harry Morgan (Henry in the credits) only has a small role as Sam Fuller but if you want to watch one of his films in memoriam then this would be my choice.

Other currently available Harry Morgan roles are the James Garner comedy Support Your Local Gunfighter, Dark City with Charlton Heston, Appointment with Danger with Alan Ladd, Wing and a Prayer, What Did You do in the War, Daddy?, About Mrs. Leslie, and Moonrise.

R.I.P. Harry Morgan