Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn
PETER GUNN Season Three. 1960.

The third and final season of the popular private eye program was unexceptional but entertaining. "Mother" is gone, and Peter's girlfriend, Edie (Lola Albright) opens her own restaurant-club, and hires a maitre'd, Leslie (James Lanphier), after the man's own restaurant is bombed. Although well-played by Lanphier, the character did little more than interrupt Edie and Peter (Craig Stevens) to tell the latter that he had a phone call. Edie herself only appeared sporadically [giving Gunn a girlfriend never made much sense, as it would have been more fun to have him involved with a different "dame" each week, which only happened on occasion]. Hershel Bernardi as Lt. Jacoby appeared in virtually every episode, again functioning practically as Gunn's partner. Late in the season four episodes in a row took place in Acapulco, to which Peter flew for one case and remained for several more. It seems clear that Gunn must have been a wealthy man slumming as a private dick because he rarely makes a lot of money and is always giving away very large bills to his informants. The most memorable episodes this season include: "A Kill and a Half," in which a midget hit man pretends to be a trick or treater; "A Matter of Policy" involving an insurance scheme and a bomb on an airliner; and "Than a Serpent's Tooth," in which Pamela Britton  [DOA] is notable as a woman who is carrying a secret in regards to her husband's death. The final episode -- although it has a standard plot of a millionaire wanting Peter to deal with a blackmailing female -- is very entertaining and features Peter Gunn director (and actor) Robert Gist and the show's executive producer Gordon Oliver in main roles, and both are excellent. Guest-stars for the third season include John Fieldler, Tommy Rettig, Jack Lalanne (who proves to be a terrible actor although he looks fit), Regis Toomey (in a very good turn as a desperate, aging P.I.), Ann Robinson, Kent Taylor [The Day Mars Invaded Earth], Hayden Rourke, Virginia Grey, and Patric Knowles. Robert Altman [That Cold Day in the Park] directed a couple of energetic episodes.

Verdict: Not a true classic, perhaps, but it has its moments. **1/2.

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