July 15, 2020

Tudor City on Film: DECOY

This installment of Tudor City on Film looks back at Decoy, a '50s TV series about an undercover policewoman, said to be the first show to feature a female cop as its star. Set and shot in New York City, Decoy premiered on October 15, 1957, and ran in syndication for 39 episodes. 

Its star, Beverly Garland, was a B-movie actress better known for her television work, appearing in everything from My Three Sons and The Twilight Zone to Magnum, P.I. and Friends. On Decoy, she plays Casey Jones, an undercover cop who impersonates various characters ‒ drug addicts, babysitters, nightclub photographers, exotic dancers ‒ to solve crimes.

Tudor City appears in the very first episode behind the opening credits, a 42-second tour de force that firmly establishes the show's noir credentials.

The sequence begins with Policewoman Jones racing out of No. 2. It's mid-morning, and she's wearing a walk-of-shame-worthy outfit: a black evening gown with matching gloves, and a mink stole.
To the sound of screeching violins, she rushes over to the Tudor City Bridge.

She turns to face the camera, and the show's title appears.

She lights a cigarette, a favorite noir gesture.
Tribute title card appears.

She draws heavily on the cigarette, which she plainly needs.

Turning away from the bridge, she walks down Tudor City Place.

The sequence ends as a car drives by and picks her up. In the background is No. 2, then a year old.

Amazingly enough, this title sequence has absolutely no bearing on what follows, and is only vaguely explained ‒ Jones is driven to a crime scene, where a detective looks at her evening gown and asks what she's been working on. "Narcotics," she replies coolly, with no further explanation.

Decoy is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. See the first episode on YouTube here.

A big thank you to Anne Stoddard and Debra Register for sharing this gem!

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