Tag Archives: Steve Allen

Warning Shot (1967, Buzz Kulik)

Warning Shot is almost successful. For most of the film, director Kulik and screenwriter Mann Rubin craft an engaging mystery. Then the third act happens and they both employ cheap tricks and it knocks the film off course. It’s a rather short third act too–the film’s got a peculiar structure, probably to allow for all the cameos–and it just falls apart. What’s worse is the plot was already meandering (and promised more meandering) by that point.

David Janssen is a cop about to go to trial for killing an upstanding doctor. He’s got to prove himself innocent–or the doctor dirty–which means he visits various people. The first act–with Ed Begley as his boss, Keenan Wynn as his partner, Sam Wanamaker as the DA out to get him and Carroll O’Connor as the hispanic coroner–is completely different than the rest of the film. Kulik uses cockeyed angles, which Joseph F. Biroc shoots beautifully (though he doesn’t do as well with the hand-held look Kulik goes for in other early scenes). It makes all the exposition sail. The angles and the actors. The actors are very important.

There’s only one weak performance in Warning Shot–Joan Collins as Janssen’s estranged wife–all the rest are good or better. Even when it’s a single scene like Eleanor Parker or George Sanders. Parker’s better, she’s got a lot more to do than sit behind a desk and be a snot, which Sanders accomplishes admirably. George Grizzard is solid as Janssen’s newfound ally and Stefanie Powers is great as the dead doctor’s nurse. Lillian Gish has a small part as a witness and she’s a lot of fun. Begley, Wynn and especially Wanamaker are all strong. Carroll O’Connor as the–wait for it–Hispanic coroner is a little weird, but he’s not bad, just Carroll O’Connor playing a Mexican.

There’s a lot going on in the story for the first half of the film; the second half doesn’t have much material as far as the mystery, but it does have material for the supporting cast. They work at it and Janssen’s a phenomenally sturdy lead. He’s able to sell everything, from drinking buttermilk as a vice to fending off a seductive Collins. Bad performance or not, the latter seems unlikely.

I suppose the somewhat lengthy slide into troubled mystery waters is a bonus. It makes Warning Shot less disappointing. Even the finale, with its problems, should be better just because of location and Jerry Goldsmith’s competent score, but Kulik fumbles it. He also has some really bad blacking out sequences, one near the end, which might help to forecast the problem finish.

Still, some good acting, some great acting, a fine lead from Janssen; Warning Shot diverts for its entire runtime and intrigues for more than half of it.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Buzz Kulik; screenplay by Mann Rubin, based on a novel by Whit Masterson; director of photography, Joseph F. Biroc; edited by Archie Marshek; music by Jerry Goldsmith; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring David Janssen (Sgt. Tom Valens), Ed Begley (Capt. Roy Klodin), Keenan Wynn (Sgt. Ed Musso), Sam Wanamaker (Frank Sanderman), Lillian Gish (Alice Willows), Stefanie Powers (Liz Thayer), Eleanor Parker (Mrs. Doris Ruston), George Grizzard (Walt Cody), George Sanders (Calvin York), Steve Allen (Perry Knowland), Carroll O’Connor (Paul Jerez), Joan Collins (Joanie Valens) and Walter Pidgeon (Orville Ames).


RELATED


THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | ELEANOR PARKER, PART 3: BARONESS.

Advertisements

Something’s Got to Give (1962, George Cukor)

I wonder how Something’s Got to Give plays if you haven’t seen My Favorite Wife (Give was a remake). This thirty-seven minute edit of footage of Marilyn Monroe’s last–unfinished–film is a disjointed suggestion of what might have been.

Monroe’s good in her part, though she doesn’t have a lot to do in the footage. There’s a lot with Cyd Charisse as Monroe’s rival, expect Charisse is awful and her character’s a harpy anyway. It’s unbelievable Dean Martin would be interested in her, much less marry her.

Give probably would have been most interesting for Martin. He’s sans ego for the most part, playing a man plagued with insecurity and impotence.

The film appears to be rather well-produced, except Tori Rodman. Rodman compiled the footage decades later, mimicking the era well, but it’s a soulless effort.

John McGiver is hilarious as a judge who spars with Martin.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by George Cukor; screenplay by Arnold Schulman, Nunnally Johnson and Water Bernstein, based on a screenplay by Bella Spewack and Sam Spewack; directors of photography, Franz Planer and Leo Tover; edited by Tori Rodman; music by Johnny Mercer; produced by Henry T. Weinstein; released by Fox Home Video.

Starring Marilyn Monroe (Ellen Wagstaff Arden), Dean Martin (Nick Arden), Cyd Charisse (Bianca Russell Arden), Wally Cox (Shoe Salesman), John McGiver (The Judge), Phil Silvers (Johnson), Tom Tryon (Steven Burkett), Alexandra Heilweil (Lita Arden), Robert Christopher Morley (Timmy Arden), Grady Sutton (The Judge’s Clerk), Eloise Hardt (Miss Worth) and Steve Allen (The Psychiatrist).


RELATED