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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.

Director:

Buzz Kulik

Writers:

Whit Masterson (based on the novel "711--Officer Needs Help" by), Mann Rubin (screenplay by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Janssen ... Sgt. Tom Valens
Ed Begley ... Capt. Roy Klodin
Keenan Wynn ... Sgt. Ed Musso
Sam Wanamaker ... Frank Sanderman
Lillian Gish ... Alice Willows
Stefanie Powers ... Liz Thayer
Eleanor Parker ... Mrs. Doris Ruston
George Grizzard ... Walt Cody
George Sanders ... Calvin York
Steve Allen ... Perry Knowland
Carroll O'Connor ... Paul Jerez
Joan Collins ... Joanie Valens
Walter Pidgeon ... Orville Ames
Vito Scotti ... Designer
David Garfield David Garfield ... Police Surgeon (as John Garfield Jr.)
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Storyline

A police sergeant kills a man who pulls a gun on him during a stakeout. But the dead suspect is a respected doctor with no criminal record and the man's gun cannot be found, and the sergeant is charged with manslaughter. The sergeant works to clear his name and determine where the gun went and why the doctor was there at all. Written by Sean Taylor <st52@cornell.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Gun, Gun, Who's Got the Gun? Is It Here? Is It Here? Is It Here? See more »

Genres:

Mystery

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 January 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Todesschuß See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bob Banner Associates See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Donald Curtis. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Doris Ruston: We're two of a kind, Mr. Valens, remember, two losers. And according to an old Chinese proverb, when you rub two losers together, sometimes you get surprises... sometimes even fire.
Sgt. Tom Valens: I'm a sore loser, Mrs. Ruston... a sore loser.
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User Reviews

Either or . . .
30 March 2006 | by inspectors71See all my reviews

You can take Buzz Kulik's Warning Shot one of two ways. It's either a crackling good cop show, filled with procedure and great pacing, and David Janssen at his most heroically pathetic (and empathetic) as an LAPD detective facing a manslaughter charge or the movie is an over-clichéd snapshot of forced topicality in the Mirandized late '60's. It's really your call.

I'd like to think of Warning Shot as both, the way The Detective and Madigan mixed the vulnerable with the vulgar. After about the fourth time Janssen's character, Tom Valens, gets abused or beaten or gassed by the well-to-do slimeballs he's sworn to defend, you might start to notice how he'd probably be better off copping a plea for shooting a philanthropist doctor. Instead he swears grimly that he's going to defend his own honor to the bitter end (and repeatedly almost gets his way).

Warning Shot is packed with cameos, people who were legends when I was a kid, and now, forty years after its release, most of the performers are unrecognizable, which makes the story more accessible and less of an exercise in "Hey, look--it's . . . "

What makes the movie work is that David Janssen, looking ten years older than 35, is so very real as a man of good character with no excess intelligence, just grim determination.

A key figure in the story refers to Valens as "Sgt. Gumshoe" or something like that. It fits. Janssen's Valens is ordinary and vulnerable to the hyperventilating police-haters all around him. He can't do much more than reel and lurch from one disaster to the next, while awaiting his guaranteed-to-be-convicted trial. At one point, he gets the stuffing kicked out of him and doesn't even lay a finger on his attackers.

His ex-wife (played by the reptillian Joan Collins) tries to screw him while busting the very organs she's depending on for their quickie. The District Attorney (the equally scaley Sam Wannamaker) announces to Valens that he likes to crush solid and stolid cops whenever possible. By the end, Janssen has no one to turn to for even the most rudimentary support, not even a union rep (a very young and lovely Stephanie Powers, the dead doctor's nurse, can do no more than cluck over his sincerity and give him a ride home).

Nobody can help this poor shlub except himself.

Which brings me back to why Warning Shot is a mixture of reality and topical paranoia. Often, in crisis, people have to revert back to their core values to save themselves. Either they don't have anyone to help them or they don't trust anyone and decide to go it alone. Janssen's Tom Valens does just that.

Yet, at one point, he's told that his career is through no matter what happens. You can see the pain of this reality on Janssen's face as he surveys the damage he's done at the end of Warning Shot. He tosses his piece on the hood of a police car (no gun love here--it's just an ugly tool he wants out of his hand) and looks almost ready to cry from frustration and exhaustion. Like Frank Sinatra's Joe Leland and Richard Widmark's Dan Madigan, Tom Valens needs to get as far away from police work as possible.


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