Dave Barrett (Manhunter)

Created by Sam H. Rolfe

Taciturn DAVE BARRETT was an ex-WWI marine turned bounty hunter who goes up against a Bonnie-and-Clyde team of bank robbers who murdered his former girlfriend (and his dog!) in Manhunter, a 1974 TV movie. Dave was played by Ken Howard, later to star as television’s The White Shadow.

Killed his dog? Now I know where they got the idea for John Wick!

The film served as a pilot for a short-lived series from 1974-75, which continued Barrett’s adventures as he wandered around the country in his spiffy 1929 Cadillac, well stocked with weapons, tracking down various Depression-era criminals throughout the Western and North Central parts of the United States to for cold, hard cash, while working out of his parent’s Cleary, Idaho farmhouse. Dave’s plan was that the bounty he would collect for all those miscreants he’d capture would help Ma and Pa save the family farm.

The rural setting made for a nice switch for the decidedly urban settings of Banyon and City of Angels, two other private eye dramas set in the thirties that graced the airwaves in the 1970s. And it was good to see Quinn Martin recycling all those old cars, period duds and Tommy guns from his days of producing The Untouchables. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quit tinkering with the format, and the original idea of a grim, hard-boiled avenger setting out from the farm to fight the good fight got lost somewhere down the line, and Barrett became friendlier, more talkative and even genial–not quite what viewers had initially signed up for.


  • “Ken Howard plays a rural private eye of the 1930s as if he were afraid that sudden mobilization of his facial muscles would crack his handsome lines. Luckily the scripts require him to do little more than slip behind the wheel of what bad old novels described as a “high-powered” car and set off on cross-country chases after the current episode’s miscreants. For variety, there are many closeups of the car’s head lamps and fenders, which are about as emotionally expressive as the leading man—and as beautiful in the same old-fashioned sort of way. Such suspense as the show works up derives from one’s fear of seeing either one scratched.”
    — Richard Schinkel (November 11, 1974, Time Magazine)
  •  “There might have been the germ of a workable idea in THE MANHUNTER … but the same Quinn Martin trash-compacter which has already turned CANNON and BARNABY JONES into interchangeable hours of mindless motion seems to have been at work here…”
    — Dick Adler (Los Angeles Times)


    (1974, CBS)
    90 minutes made-for-TV movie
    Premiere: February 26, 1974
    Teleplay by Sam Rolfe
    Directed by Walter Grauman
    Produced by Adrian Samish
    A Quinn Martin Production
    Starring Ken Howard as DAVE BARRETT
    Also starring Gary Lockwood, Tim O’Connor, James Olson, Stefanie Powers, John Anderson, L.Q. Jones, Ford Rainey, Robert Hogan, R.G. Armstrong, Luke Askew, Marie Windsor, Ben Frank, Robert Patten, Mary Cross
    (1974-1975, CBS)
    60-minute episodes
    Premiere: September 11, 1974
    Created by Sam Rolfe
    Directors: Leslie H. Martinson
    Produced by Adrian Samish
    A Quinn Martin Production
    Starring Ken Howard as DAVE BARRETT
    with Robert Hogan as Sheriff Paul Tate
    Hilary Thompson as Lizabeth Barrett
    Claudia Bryar as Mary Barrett
    and Ford Rainey as James Barrett
    Guest stars: Lenore Kasdorf, Katherine Justice, Chris Robinson, Ramon Bieri, Marj Dusay, Monte Markham, Peter Haskell, Robert Pine, Laurie Prange, James Sloyan, John Fiedler, David Hedison, Michael Constantine, Joan Van Ark, Denver Pyle, Tom Skerritt, Christine Belford, Leslie Nielsen, Sam Elliott, Dabney Coleman, Paul Carr, Mark Hamill, Linda Marsh, Parley Baer, Jo Ann Harris, Barbara Rhoades.

    • “The Ma Gantry Gang” (September 11, 1974)
    • “The Man Who Thought He Was Dillinger” (September 18, 1974)
    • “The Baby-Faced Killers” (September 25, 1974)
    • “Death on the Run” (October 2, 1974)
    • “Trackdown” (October 9, 1974)
    • “Terror From the Skies” (October 16, 1974)
    • “The Doomsday Gang” (October 23, 1974)
    • “The Deadly Brothers” (October 30, 1974)
    • “The Trunk Murders” (June 1974)
    • “Jackknife” (November 13, 1974)
    • “The Carnival Story” (November 20, 1974)
    • “The Lodestar Ambush” (December 4, 1974)
    • “A.W.O.L. to Kill” (December 11, 1974)
    • “Flight to Nowhere” (December 18, 1974)
    • “Web of Fear” (January 1, 1975)
    • “Day of Execution” (January 15, 1975)
    • “Man in a Cage” (January 22, 1975)
    • “The Seventh Man” (January 29, 1975)
    • “The Wrong Man” (February 5, 1975)
    • “The Death Watch” (February 19, 1975)
    • “To Kill a Tiger” (February 26, 1975)
    • “Trial by Terror” (March 5, 1975)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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