Stu Bailey and Jeff Spencer were the wisecracking, womanizing private detective heroes of this Warner Brothers drama. Stu and Jeff worked out of an office located at 77 Sunset Strip in Los ... See full summary »
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.,
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Filmed in a film noir atmosphere and featuring Henry Mancini music that could tell you the action with your eyes closed, Peter Gunn worked in style. Known as Pete to his friends and simply as Gunn to his enemies, he did his job in a calm cool way. He got his tips and cautions from Lieutenant Jacoby, a coffee drinking pal from the police. Also providing tips was "Mother" of her self-titled nightclub. Working at the nightclub as a singer was Edie Hart, his girlfriend. Written by
Mathias Banner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was one of the first television shows to have its own original score and it was the first to feature modern jazz for a soundtrack. Previously, producers used generic music scores that were used in many television productions. RCA released an album of music from "Peter Gunn" featuring the title song and other pieces. It reached #1 on Billboard's chart, stayed there ten weeks, and stayed on the list for the next two years. It was so successful that RCA put together a sequel. Henry Mancini received an Emmy nomination for the theme and won two Grammys for the album. See more »
There are so many good things about "Peter Gunn". The classic theme by Mancini will stay in your head forever. Craig Stevens and Lola Albright may not be Bogey and Bacall, but both are attractive leads. Stevens has a Cary Grant debonair quality. Albright was never used correctly, a la Ann-Margret. She was a beautiful actress and a fine singer. Herschel Bernardi is quite likable as Lieutenant Jacobi.
I think the main reason 'Peter Gunn' did not succeed, say, in the way that 'Perry Mason' succeeded are tired scripts, and the fact that the half hour show left little time for plots to develop. 'Perry Mason' could often be an exercise in tedium, as characters move in and out so quickly that it is often hard to follow the story. And forget about trying to figure out who the murderer is. Best to leave it up to Mason, or, worse yet, have the killer confess to everybody in court. (This seems to me to be a lazy writer's plot device; this rarely EVER happens in real life. It's hokey.)
I just viewed one "Peter Gunn" episode where sure enough, the murderer gives it all up on the witness stand. See that once and it is silly...see it countless times and it's irritating and downright stupid.
To be fair, I've seen episodes that contain some flashes of wit. One scene fills with a young punk with a gun in his hand. For a moment, you think it's part of the episode. But the camera pans out and reveals that it is Jacobi watching television in his office, and he vocally decries the violence he is seeing on the tube. That was a clever touch.
"Peter Gunn" had its share of violence, although I don't think it ever reached the gore that became 'The Untouchables'. The Desilu production may have been the first to lead to public outcries about television and violence.
With better scripts, and an hour-long format, "Peter Gunn" may have become a mainstay on television, enjoying a longer run. Certainly there were the beginnings of a fine ensemble cast a la Mason, but at twenty five minutes an episode, there was little chance of doing much more than saying 'hello' and 'goodbye'.
Which is a shame. Lola Albright, had she been born in the days of the studio system, could have become a major movie star. I feel the same about Julie Adams ('Creature From the Black Lagoon'). Both these women were gorgeous, but they came into fame during the television age. Their lovely faces seem out of place on the small screen of the tube, but both women turned in fine performances in just about everything they were handed.
And so all of the parts, Edie Hart's face, her voice, Gunn's suaveness, and Mancini's jazz add up to more than what became known as "Peter Gunn".
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