By Harvey F. Chartrand
PETER GUNN: THE COMPLETE SERIES is now available for the first time ever as a 12-DVD box set from Timeless Media Group… all 114 episodes, with a running time of over 58 hours.
PETER GUNN – created and produced by Blake Edwards – ran for three seasons – from 1958 to 1961. This classic detective show was a delightful blend of film noir and fifties cool, featuring a modern jazz score by Henry Mancini (a bonus CD of the soundtrack is included in the set), outbreaks of the old ultra-violence, a gallery of eccentric and sleazy characters (usually informants, gangsters and Beat Generation bohemians), and great acting by series leads Craig Stevens (as Gunn), Lola Albright (as his squeeze, sultry nightclub singer Edie Hart) and Herschel Bernardi (as Gunn’s friend and competitor Lieutenant Jacoby, who seems to work all by himself 24 hours a day in the 13th Precinct headquarters).
Gunn can morph from suave private eye to tough guy handy with his fists in a nanosecond, but it’s refreshing to see how often he is taken by surprise or beaten up and knocked unconscious. Gunn operates out of a nightclub, Mother’s, where Edie Hart is the featured singer. No lonely neon-lit office in the Bradbury Building for him. (And he doesn’t pay Mother, the big tough old broad who runs the joint, any commission for helping him find clients!)
Gunn is that rarity… a wealthy shamus, and his services don’t come cheap, unless he’s in a charitable mood. His standard fee is $1,000, and his sterling reputation precedes him, keeping the clients streaming in through Mother’s door. Gunn is a hepcat with expensive tastes. He wears $200 Brooks Brothers suits and resembles an American Cary Grant (which is the pivotal reason why Edwards cast Stevens in the role). Gunn drives around in a cool two-tone Plymouth Fury convertible, equipped with a mobile phone! (This is 55 years ago, folks!) He seems to know just about every high-society type and low-life specimen in town. Stunningly attractive women find Gunn irresistible, but his heart belongs to Edie and he never succumbs to temptation.
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