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 <email@example.com>
Grown Up Detective Drama For Beat Generation, The Martini Set and All Fans of Cool Jazz!
Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Mike Hammer and Rocky King (Roscoe Karnes) were all just a few well-known Private Detectives of our Popular Fiction. Though there were some obvious similarities, each one had some individually unique characteristics that gave them their own "personalities". All the above mentioned were multi-media characters, save for Roscoe Karnes' clever, under-stated everyman character from the DuMont Network's "ROCKY KING INSIDE DETECTIVE" series of the early 1950's. The 3 others were first gum-shoeing it first in the pages of the Detective Novel; then were adapted to Radio, Film, Comic Strips/Books and Television.
In the ensuing years we saw some string of original, 'Made for TV' Private I's. There was Ralph Bellamy as Mike Barnett- "MAN AGAINST CRIME" (1949-54), Don Haggerty in the title role in "THE FILES OF JEFFREY JONES (1954-55) and Frank Lovejoy portraying the main guy in "MEET McGRAW" (1957-58).
But it was a case of the cool, urbane and cerebral "PETER GUNN" (1958-61) who brought the sleuthing business to an unprecedented high on the little, living room screen. The series was a creation of a young writer by the name of Blake Edwards. And if Peter Gunn has a middle name, it surely must be "Style".
A typical GUNN episode was a murder mystery and like a good citizen, Mr. Gunn (Craig Stevens) always worked closely with the Local Police; especially with a certain Lieutenant Jacoby (Hershcel Bernardi) who is a regular and the number 1 supporting player. Gunn's home away from home was Mothers, the coolest of cool Jazz Clubs. It was there that he met with girlfriend, singer Edie Hart (Lola Albright).
Peter Gunn was a successful Detective, so there was never any doubt that he could take care of himself and shoot with the best of them. But the gun-play and fisticuffs were played down, though not eliminated. The series instead relied on well constructed plot, clever dialog, skilled direction and fine performances by the fine cast.
The production was also on of contrasts, for there was a lot of real film making skills being put into play to create mood, which could vary a great deal from scene to scene. Most scenes were shot in dark, shadowy lighting. This worked well for both setting up the scenes feeling and taking advantage of being rendered in good, old Black & White.
One Trademark of "PETER GUNN" was the teaser opening that was utilized. In a typical one of these "grabbers", the camera would slowly close in on the subject or subject, often with no dialog. Then the murder would suddenly occur with a shot or some other means, just as the background music would be growing to a crescendo, then suddenly the music changes to the famous Peter Gunn Opening Theme while simultaneously the Peter Gunn opening Title and Credits would rapidly flash across the screen.
And about this music, we just can't say enough for the score written and performed by Henry Mancini and Orchestra. The incidental music was properly exciting and lively or eerie and menacing as needed. And as for that haunting, infectious Peter Gunn Theme, well we just don't have enough superlatives in the English Dictionary to describe it. This is such a fine instrumental that its fame is spread far and wide and surpassed the familiarity of the GUNN Series.
The characterization of Peter Gunn as delivered by Craig Stevens was one of a worldly guy who is highly intelligent, well educated and quite well suited for handling anything that would come his way. In the final analysis, it is almost as if Mr. Craig Stevens was playing it as if Cary Grant were a Private Detective.
Thank God for Re-Run Channels like Nick At Night, Nick's TV Land and local Channels like our WMET TV Channel 23 here in Chicago.
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