When William Smith was still Bill Smith, he co-starred in his first series, Asphalt Jungle, a short-lived police drama which replaced a short-lived adventure series (The Islanders) on the ABC lineup. It followed three Westerns (Maverick, Lawman, The Rebel)in the ABC Sunday night lineup. It played, apparently unsuccessfully, opposite the NBC Dinah Shore/Loretta Young shows and the CBS Jack Benny/Candid Camera shows. His character, Sgt. Danny Keller was part of a squad led by Capt. Gus Honochek [Arch Johnson] who worked with Deputy Police Commissioner Matthew Gower [Jack Warden] to fight crime in the city. It was loosely based on the 1949 W. R. Burnett novel of the same name. The paperback edition pictured below was released to tie in with the series. To many, the most notable part of this series was the theme song and background music composed by jazz great Duke Ellington.
When we first put together this site we had never seen Asphalt Jungle. Bill hadn't seen the series since he made it. Bill and the NiteOwls thank Susan Ott of Delaware for supplying Bill with two episodes. While Bill is the last person to claim that he brought great acting skills to his role in this series, an actor's first regular series role has sentimental value. There is a pilot movie for the series which is available from some video collectors but be aware, Bill is not in it. Johnson and Warden star with another actor of Bill's age and general type. (Bill was a "type" back then. He later, of course, took on a unique persona.]
We have to admit that unless these two episodes are completely atypical, it's no mystery why this series didn't last. According to the Complete Directory of Prime Time Network & Cable TV Shows this show was supposed to be about a special squad of men helping the Deputy Police Commissioner break up large organized crime rings. To this end they frequently went undercover. The Complete Directory has been known to publish descriptions of series taken from press release versions which have no resemblance to the finished product. (See for example the very inaccurate description of the characters in Laredo taken from an abandoned press release version of the series.) Either this is another case of an inaccurate press release version, or the two episodes we have really are atypical. There was no undercover work, no large organized crime gangs. Worse, there was no chemistry between the characters, what little action there was was stiff and the occasional humor was forced [in the Jack Webb vein]. This series is truly worth collecting only for its value as William Smith's first series role. But for that reason, we would be thrilled if anyone has any additional episodes.
To ASPHALT JUNGLE Episode: "The Scott Machine"
To William Smith Series Zero One
TO WILLIAM SMITH SERIES - RICH MAN, POOR MAN
TO WILLIAM SMITH SITE CONTENTS PAGE
TO WILLIAM SMITH ADDITIONS PAGE