The 1928 Dragnet bears no relation to the 1950s TV series of the same name. This Josef von Sternberg exercise in esoterica stars George Bancroft as tough cop Two-Gun Nolan. When he becomes convinced that he has accidentally killed his partner, Nolan goes on a bender. Actually, the crime was committed by one of gangster William Powell's henchman. Powell's moll Evelyn Brent takes a liking to Nolan; she tells him the truth, whereupon Nolan pulls himself together and goes after Powell all by himself. The evocative subtitles in Dragnet were written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, who reportedly never read the original script nor ever saw the finished product.
by Hal Erickson synopsis