1961-1970Buzz KulikFilm NoirMysteryUSA

Buzz Kulik – Warning Shot (1967)

During a stakeout, an L.A. cop kills a doctor who presumably pulled a gun but the coroner’s inquest finds no gun, forcing the cop to look for it to clear his name.

Letterboxd reviews
★★★ Added by mattstechel 03 Jul 2021

Pretty good 60s era mystery that noir maestro Eddie Muller specifically picked for his later Hollywood noir series that’s airing on Friday nights on TCM this month. Normally his Saturday latenight noir series only focuses on 40s and 50s noirs and neglected B pictures from that time so this was a chance for him to showcase some of the noirs that he’s a fan of that were made later on. In the intro co-host Ben Menkiewicz even admitted that he had never heard of it before Muller had picked it to show for the night, (Muller btw seemed very psyched that TCM managed to get the rights to show it, tho its a Paramount distributed film so I’m not sure why the rights to show it would be that hard to come by) They both agreed that even tho its a very tightly made film, that it also plays more like an episode of a tv series from the time since its more concerned with churning thru plot than it is atmosphere or character (But it definitely felt like this movie had both in spades) This is most likely because it was originally meant to be a TV Movie that got bumped up to theatrical release when the tv censors at the time deemed it a bit too violent for broadcast at the time. (Tho i mean i’d assume it turned up on network tv eventually–i mean the movie is stacked with familiar tv faces–not just star David Janssen but Caroll O’Connor turns up as a judge!)

Anyways the plot is nice and straightforward— a cop on stakeout to try and catch a killer ends up getting into a scuffle with a guy fleeing the scene and the cop ends up shooting him dead claiming the guy had pulled a gun on him. When no gun turns up at the scene, the cop is charged with murder as apparently the guy who got shot had a clean record. It looks kinda bad for the cop as public sentiment is soon whipped up against him by the local media. (There’s a local talk show host played by the inventor of the pog himself Steve Allen–who seems to have it out for our cop) and indeed there’s soon protests outside the station against excessive force and police brutality. (ha!) The local DA himself the son of a man beaten to death by policemen wants to make an example out of our cop and so the cop has no choice but to try and investigate why the guy he shot would’ve had a gun or why that guy would’ve even been at the very place the cop was staking out. The idea that our hero has to clear his own name is one that’s been done many a time, but the wrinkle that in order to clear his own name our hero has to dig up dirt on the guy he’s being charged with murdering is I thought a pretty nifty one.

Along the way he gets beaten up by the murdered man’s teenage son, and clashes with the ex wife, and he meets a couple of characters–a movie like this, you know there’s gonna be several red herrings dangling out there. Its not a great movie for the ages to be fair, but its a pretty effectively suspenseful one and David Janssen gives a solid tight lipped stiff jawed, intense leading man performance. (One that if looked at from the right perspective could be the type of performance that Leslie Nielsen was parodying in The Naked Gun movies but also definitely one that was in classic noir tradition as well–if this weren’t intended to be a TV Movie, it wouldn’t be too hard to see like Glenn Ford or Dana Andrews or even the ultimate clench jawed actor–the man who will forever reminds me of Calculon–Jeff Chandler— in this role.) Overall it was pretty rock solid. (Now the question is will i remember it in the future???)

★★★½ Watched by JP Evans 03 Feb 2018

David Janssen’s cop shoots dead a suspected killer on a foggy late night stakeout when he has a gun pulled on him. Only it’s not the suspected killer at all, rather a seemingly saintly doctor doing a late night house call. And there’s no gun to be found at the scene…

As he faces a murder charge Janssen has 10 days to clear his name or it’s prison for sure. Warning Shot touches on contemporary concerns about dirty cops as everyone abandons Janssen believing him a liar or just crazy. We know he’s neither because it’s David doing his best sincere stand-up guy routine.

What makes this good is that he’s surrounded by plenty of subtly out-there support, from the likes of Lillian Gish’s dotty lady via George Grizzard’s smooth playboy pilot and a wonderful Eleanor Parker as the dead doc’s soused and horny widow.

Janssen anchors the film, but under its apparently straightforward surface is a movie that’s pretty batshit and all the better for it. Add to this a superb jazzy score by Jerry Goldsmith and it’s definitely worth seeking out.

3.91GB | 1h 49m | 1920×1080 | mkv



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