"Warning Shot has been a personal favourite for many years. It stars David Janssen in what I consider to be one of his best screen roles; that of Sgt. Tom Valens. Without giving too much away, Valens is accused of shooting an innocent man, a doctor, while on a stakeout. He insists the doctor pulled a gun on him, but no such gun can be found at the scene. Can Valens find it and prove himself innocent? It means discrediting a hitherto saintly man who, it seems, never did anything but good in his life.
Janssen is superb in this role! He underplays for all he is worth and that, essentially, was his greatest strength as an actor. It's a subtle, low- key study in desperation, and no one did this sort of thing better.
And what a cast! Some of these great names only have cameo appearances, but here is the line up:
Ed Begley - Valen's bull-necked Captain Keenan Wyn - A fellow Sergeant who can't quite believe his friend is innocent Sam Wanamaker - a cop hater and prosecuting attorney; out to nail Valens in court Lillian Gish - a dotty old lady and former patient of the "good" doctor Stefanie Powers - the doctor's former secretary Eleanor Parker - the doctor's heavy drinking, but still glamorous, widow George Grizzard - a tenant at the apartment block where the doctor was shot, who divides his time between being a private pilot, and having a whale of a time with his bikini clad, babe neighbours! George Sanders - an unctuous, smooth, stock broker who looked after the doctor's finances. Steve Allen - what else, a talk show host, but this time with a nice line in playing devil's advocate Carroll O'Connor - head of the preliminary hearing at which Valens is committed for trial Joan Collins - Valen's estranged wife Walter Pidgeon - a renowned defence attorney And Vito Scotti - a slightly over-the-top, camp fashion designer
All are very effective, but Sam Wanamaker, George Sanders, Steve Allen, Ed Begley and George Grizzard are just superb, and Eleanor Parker makes a fantastic lush, "at least my olive is black" she declares after her husband's funeral.
The story is great, the direction is perfectly paced to allow you to enjoy the material, and the score, by Jerry Goldsmith, is the icing on this particularly moreish cake.
If you are a Janssen fan and haven't seen this film, buy it, you won't be disappointed. If you like a good crime drama with a great twist and a flawless cast, do likewise. When it comes to this type of drama you yanks beat us, all hands down. I have to say, David Janssen was one of the all time greats and his early death was a terrible tragedy. Let's hope we see much more of his work released on DVD. Why on earth are The Fugitive and Harry `O' not available to buy? Am I am alone in wanting to see these shows on DVD? I rather think not! Anyway, until they are, enjoy this one for now.
Where Did that Gun Go?
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 11/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Film noir had aged some twenty years when Warning Shot came out. The film applies some of the traditional noir elements by being shot in a city, shadows, and with a bleak approach to the notion of ends justifying the means. It enters a world where the society turns its back on a public servant - a police officer, and leaves him to fend for himself. Yet, it is not a film noir. It is not even neo-noir, as the film continues to leave a trace of hope and a strong moral sense that lingers throughout the film.
The film opens at a stakeout where police sergeant Tom Valens (David Janssen) and his partner (Keenan Wynn) tries to entrap a psycho killer, which is the way they refer to the murderer they are trying to capture. The stakeout is planned in the manner where one person sits alone and hides behind a bush while his partner sits in the car, which is somewhat baffling in regards to safety. Anyway, Valens awaits the killer to arrive when a little puppy emerges followed by a strange man that runs away after he has identified himself. It turns into a brief foot-hunt through the (smoke-machine) fog, which ends with the man pulling out what seems to be a revolver from his coat pocket. Valens reacts and fires his gun.
The man that Valens has shot turns out to be Dr. James B. Ruston, and later the police cannot find the gun that Dr. Ruston supposedly had in his pocket. It is unfortunate for Valens who is suspended from fieldwork until the investigation is over, but he cannot resist searching for the gun and the motive of why Dr. Ruston was at the location at the late hour. However, he does not find the answers he tries to find, and instead ends up in bigger problems when the district attorney has decided to try him for murder. If he did not have enough problems, his divorce with his wife, played by Joan Collins, is also about to be finalized. Despite the bleak outlook, Valens does not give up while he continues to search for the truth by probing and asking questions that could free him from guilt.
The film does not reach its full potential, as there is some awkwardness within the film. Somehow this film provides an atmosphere of a stage, or a set, which happens mostly when the scenes are shot indoors. The angles and sharpness of shadows thrown by characters and the mise-en-scene accentuate an unnatural environment, which removes some of the genuine suspense. The problem seems to rest with the lighting. There are also a few scenes where the film tries to apply some humor to the film, but it is rather irrelevant to the story itself. This also causes some friction within the main story, as it diverts the audience's attention from what is important for no apparent reason. Despite the cinematic flaw, Warning shot presents a somewhat intriguing story that helps provides a springboard for future police films, as the terrific supporting cast supports the lead when he seeks his own innocence."
Falsely accused again
miel22 | UK | 10/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a fan of David Janssenn, & he was particularly good in this genre. Once again DJ's character is falsely accused ! Settle back & enjoy."
Miss ya, David
Guss H. | 08/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here we have a mystery/drama with David Janssen as a man fighting to clear his name for a crime he did not do. Wow, how original. Actually, I really like this film and was very pleased to find it on DVD.
Though it has a low-budget feel, it is well written and directed with Janssen giving his usual understated performance. He gets excellent support from a cast that is a who's who of hollywood legends. Among them Walter Pigeon, Carrol O'Conner, Joan Collins(at the prime of her young beauty) Keenan Wynn and Stephanie Powers. Janssen made this while on hiatus between seasons three and four of The Fugitive. Reportedly, he was already planning on his 4th season as televisions most wanted man to be his last and was hoping to turn his smallscreen succsess into big screen stardom. (Being a Movie star was his life long dream that eluded him) Sadly, none of his post Fugitive feature films did very well box office wise, and by the early 70's he was back on TV where he was always in demand until his untimely death in 1980. His tall, intense figure fits the role fine in Warning Shot as a police detective charged with excessive force, he shot a suspect and no one believes him that the man drew on him first. The title is a good play on the cop-movie practice of firing a shot in the air to warn or persuade a suspect to surrender. Something that is not done in real life in any city in the country. That issue is adressed in the film at his initial hearing. It's explained that a round fired any where but at the target could strike an innocent even blocks away. Much like how for years, in western and crime films we saw the good guy shoot the gun out of someones hand.
Warning Shoot is highly recommended for fans of film-noir and especially for David Janssen fans. One last thing, recently, while watching this film and seeing Janssen playing a police officer and rattling off official jargon I had a "What If" thought. Suppose someone else had been cast as Dr. Richard Kimble. Say Tony Franciosa or James Franciscus who were leading picks for the role by the network until series creator Roy Huggins and producer Quinn Martin insisted on David Janssen. And then what if Janssen would have been brought on board to play Lt. Phillip Gerard? I'm glad it didn't turn out that way, but even if it had, he would have been convincing. Janssen was one of the most underrated actors of his day, and left us much too soon."
Peggy A. Johnson | Frederick, MD USA | 01/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a huge David Janssen fan. I can't wait for the remaining DVD's of The Fugitive. I don't mind spending money on good, well acted tv.