Kennedy of The Free Press & Captain Steve MacBride

Created by Frederick Nebel

The most famous of the pulp newsmen — and one of the most popular series presented in Black Mask in the thirties — was freewheeling  KENNEDY OF THE FREE PRESS, as he was always introduced, whose job as crime reporter invariably led him into conflict with the infinitely more strait-laced Captain Steve MacBride of the Richmond City Police Department.

Kennedy was, in the glorious tradition of pulp newshawks, a hard-drinking, smart-ass son of a bitch; an ace reporter when he wasn’t falling down drunk, a frequently sodden mess and constant thorn in the side of big, tough, professional, by-the-book MacBride.

Nebel sold the rights to MacBride and Kennedy to Warner Brothers in the 1930’s, but had nothing to do with the adaptations. Perhaps it’s just as well. Somewhere along the line, skinny, drunk-as-a-skunk Kennedy became a wisecracking motormouth newswoman, Torchy Blaine, and the gruff MacBride the object of her affections. Nine B-films were made in the series.

When pressed about it, Nebel would respond, “Hell, they always change the stuff around. But I don’t mind–as long as I don’t have to make the changes.”


  • “Raw Law” (September 1928, Black Mask)
  • “Dog Eat Dog” (October 1928, Black Mask)
  • “The Law Laughs Last” (November 1928, Black Mask)
  • “Law Without Law” (April 1929, Black Mask)
  • “Graft” (May 1929, Black Mask)
  • “New Guns for Old” (Sept. 1929, Black Mask)
  • “Hell-Smoke” (November 1929, Black Mask)
  • “Tough Treatment” (January 1930, Black Mask)
  • “Alley Rat” (February 1930, Black Mask)
  • “Wise Guy” (April 1930, Black Mask)
  • “Ten Men From Chicago” (August 1930, Black Mask)
  • “Shake-Down” (September 1930, Black Mask)
  • “Junk” (March 1931, Black Mask)
  • “Beat the Rap” (May 1931, Black Mask)
  • “Death for a Dago” (July 1931, Black Mask)
  • “Some Die Young” (December 1931, Black Mask)
  • “The Quick or the Dead” (March 1932, Black Mask)
  • “Backwash” (May 1932, Black Mask; 1995, Hard-Boiled)
  • “Doors in the Dark” (February 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Rough Reform” (March 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Farewell to Crime” (April 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Guns Down” (September 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Lay Down the Law” (November 1933, Black Mask)
  • “Too Young to Die” (February 1934, Black Mask)
  • “Bad News” (March 1934, Black Mask)
  • “Take It and Like It” (June 1934, Black Mask; also 1977, The Hard-Boiled Detective)
  • “Be Your Age” (August 1934, Black Mask)
  • “He Was a Swell Guy” (January 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Hell on Wheels” (February 1, 1935, Dime Detective)
  • “It’s a Gag” (February 1935, Black Mask)
  • “That’s Kennedy” (May 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Die-Hard” (August 1935, Black Mask)
  • “Winter Kill” (November 1935, Black Mask; also 1965, The Hardboiled Dicks)
  • “Fan Dance” (January 1936, Black Mask)
  • “No Hard Feelings” (February 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Crack Down” (April 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Hard to Take” (June 1936, Black Mask)
  • “Deep Red” (August 1936, Black Mask)


  • Raw Law: The Complete Cases of MacBride & Kennedy, Vol. 1: 1928-30 (2013) Buy this book
  • Shake-Down: The Complete Cases of MacBride & Kennedy, Vol. 2: 1930-33 (2013)Buy this book
  • Too Young to Die: The Complete Cases of MacBride & Kennedy, Vol. 3: 1933-35 (2013) Buy this book
  • Winter Kill: The Complete Cases of MacBride & Kennedy Vol. 4: 1935-36 (2014) Buy this book


    (June 13, 1936, CBS)
    Unsuccessful pilot?
    Written by Charles Tazewell
    Based on the Kennedy and MacBride stories by Frederick Nebel



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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