M Squad


M Squad is an American crime drama television series that ran from 1957 to 1960 on NBC. It was produced by Lee Marvin's Latimer Productions and Revue Studios. Its main sponsor was the Pall Mall cigarette brand; Lee Marvin, the program's star, appeared in its commercials during many episodes.[1][2] Alternate sponsors were General Electric (GE), Hazel Bishop and Bulova watches.

M Squad
Lee Marvin 1959.JPG
Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Ballinger, from NBC's M Squad in 1959.
GenreCrime drama
StarringLee Marvin
Paul Newlan
ComposersMain theme by
Count Basie
Stanley Wilson
Incidental music and arrangements by
Sonny Burke
Pete Carpenter
Benny Carter
John T. Williams
Orchestra conducted by
Stanley Wilson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes117 (list of episodes)
Executive producersJohn Larkin
Richard Lewis
ProducersRobert Bassler
Maxwell Shane
EditorsLee Huntington
John B. Moss
Stanley Rabjohn
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesLatimer Productions
Revue Studios
DistributorMCA TV
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 20, 1957 (1957-09-20) –
June 21, 1960 (1960-06-21)


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
138September 20, 1957 (1957-09-20)June 13, 1958 (1958-06-13)
240September 19, 1958 (1958-09-19)July 3, 1959 (1959-07-03)
339September 18, 1959 (1959-09-18)June 21, 1960 (1960-06-21)

Set in Chicago, Illinois, it starred Marvin as Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger, a member of "M Squad", a special unit of the Chicago Police, assisting other units in battling organized crime, corruption and violent crimes citywide. Paul Newlan co-starred as his boss, Captain Grey. Although Marvin had been appearing in feature films since 1951, it was this series that made him a star, and he later went on to an even bigger film career afterward. Nelson Case was the announcer.[3] The popularity of M Squad was proven in the ratings wars by the NBC network choosing a Friday night time slot opposite Frank Sinatra's ABC variety show in the fall of 1957 and Phil Silvers' long running CBS comedy, Sgt. Bilko, in 1958. Both series were eventually cancelled.

Guest starsEdit


The theme music for the first season was composed by Stanley Wilson,[4] who won the 1959 Grammy Award for the Best Soundtrack Album and Background Score from Motion Picture or Television.[citation needed] In the second and third seasons, the new theme was composed by Count Basie.[4]

A soundtrack album, Music from M Squad, with liner notes by Lee Marvin, was released by RCA Victor Records in 1959 during the last season of the show.[5][4]


In episode "The Jumper", an officer was depicted taking bribes. This prompted Richard J. Daley, the Mayor of Chicago at the time, to discourage motion picture and television location filming in Chicago for the rest of his administration (1955-1976). (He made an exception for the 1975 John Wayne film Brannigan, because of Daley's personal admiration for Wayne.) The Blues Brothers, released in 1980, marked the reversal of the policy under then-mayor Jane Byrne.[citation needed]

Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Ballinger carried two Colt Cobra snub nosed revolvers, the lightweight variant of Colt's "Detective's Special" revolver, which was popular with detectives at the time. Lt. Ballinger was the first T.V. police detective, of any note, to carry a backup revolver. The second Cobra revolver was carried in a more concealed position than the other.[6][7]

A novel was published in 1962, M Squad: The Chicago Cop Killer, by David Saunders. It was published by Belmont Books, New York.

Home mediaEdit

Timeless Media Group released M Squad: The Complete Series on DVD in the Region 1 on November 11, 2008.[8] This release has been discontinued and is out of print.

On November 4, 2014, Timeless Media re-released the complete series on DVD in a new 16-disc special edition collection that contains an entire disc of bonus content.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pall Mall Presents M Squad". Tobacco Videos. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010.
  2. ^ Lee Marvin for Pall Mall Cigarettes (TV commercial). YouTube. July 9, 2011. Archived from the original on December 22, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  3. ^ Alicoate, Charles A., ed. (1960). The 1960 Radio Annual and Television Year Book. Radio Daily Corp. p. 1198.
  4. ^ a b c "Studio City Walk of Fame Highlights: 'M Squad'". Studio City, CA Patch. February 7, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Music from M Squad - Stanley Wilson | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Ahern, Jerry (March 1989). "Movie and T.V. Guns". Petersen’s Handguns for Sport & Defense. p. 43.
  7. ^ Thompson, Leroy (February 1, 2019). "Don't Snub the Snub". Concealed Carry Handguns. pp. 54–55.
  8. ^ "Official Press Release for M Squad - The Complete Series". Archived from the original on November 1, 2014.
  9. ^ "Package Art Arrives for TMG's 'Complete TV Series: Special Edition'". Archived from the original on November 1, 2014.

External linksEdit