Thursday, 13 August 2015

No.228 : Warning Shot

Warning Shot at the IMDb

David Janssen leads a stellar cast in this 1967 police drama. Technically it should be called ‘No Warning Shot’ but let’s save the nit picking until after the plot summary.

Janssen plays Sergeant Tom Valens who is on a stake out with his partner as the film opens. They are supposedly looking for a psycho killer but they should probably be after the man with the rogue smoke machine instead. They discuss how foggy it is but it looks more like bonfire night. Janssen spots a suspicious character who runs when challenged. Our man soon has him cornered but when the felon moves to draw a gun Janssen shots first sending him into the swimming pool of the apartment complex.

So far so good, but wait? An ID check shows the shot man to be a doctor who was visiting an elderly patient and more worryingly there is no gun. Things quickly spiral downwards for Janssen as he is suspended and the public want his head - this is well demonstrated with interviews with placard wielding protesters some of whom suggest white policemen may get an easier ride - glad things have changed since the 1960’s!

Criminal charges are soon brought and, unwilling to accept a plea, Janssen tries to unravel the life of his victim to see if he really is the good man all seem to think he is. Whilst this is going on he also has to deal with him impending divorce from the lovely Joan Collins - can things get any worse?!

The investigation is well done with a few red herrings thrown in such as woman killed in the same apartment complex due to an illegal abortion which turns out to be unconnected to our case. Other angles include a nutty old lady with a penchant for dog toys, a playboy pilot and a young Stefanie Powers who lacks her ‘Hart to Hart’ hair but still brightens up the screen.

The pieces slowly fall together but who can be trusted and where is that darn gun?

I liked this gritty crime drama. There was no sex or swearing but it was a seamy slice of LA life with some decent brutality thrown in for good measure. The simple premise was laid out at the start and although the film’s sympathies clearly lie with Janssen, the pivotal scene at the start is shot in such a way that we, the audience, aren’t sure if the gun ever really existed.

The detection was good although the resolution was a little bit improbable for my liking. Janssen was a compelling lead and although not that sympathetic, his tough guy with values won me over. He also gets smoochy with Joan Collins but casts her away when she’s half out of her dress - that man has strength! The cast also has Ed Begley, Sam Wanamaker, Walter Pidgeon and  Lillian Gish - Lillian Gish this film is not!

Things do play out as you’d expect but I was wrong footed a couple of times and the pace and drama kept me interested throughout. Well worth checking out.

Best Bit : Joan shows a bra strap!  ‘W’ Score : 18/23

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