Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

September 21, 2020

Henry Mancini, original soundtrack LP for “Gunn” (1967)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:30 am

The 1958-61 television detective show PETER GUNN, starring Craig Stevens, created and produced by Blake Edwards, was a huge success, both with critics and the public, and still holds up today, with its studio-shot foggy and mysterious mean streets, the cool and powerful presence of star CRAIG STEVENS, and the key role of jazz in the show, both on-screen and on the soundtrack via Henry Mancini’s music.

When Blake Edwards decided to revive the Gunn franchise in 1967, with the first of a projected series of feature films (the promotional materials and the soundtrack album for the film called it GUNN…NUMBER ONE, suggesting there will be number two and number three, etc.), he offered the director’s chair to William Friedkin (a shame that didn’t happen!), which WF declined. The studio felt that Lola Albright, Stevens’ seductive co-star on the TV series, was too old to reprise her role (why not just make BOTH characters older? Craig Stevens clearly had aged too…), so that role was re-written and re-cast. Neither did Herschel Bernardi reprise his role as Lt. Jacobi, Gunn’s friend on the police force and a key element to the original show’s success. The 1967 GUNN did not do well at the box office or with critics, though it’s not bad and fans of the original show might enjoy it (I did) if you accept that it’s an older Gunn in a much-changed world that he doesn’t fully understand….and that looks NOTHING like his original black and white, foggy crime-jazz fantasy world.

One thing that was wonderful about the GUNN feature film was the soundtrack, one of Maestro Mancini’s finest jazz-inspired scores. The LP of this is not hard to find, but the brief CD appearances of the album in the 1990’s now go for big bucks. Unfortunately, the GUNN film has never been issued in any video format. Copies that circulate are from a pan-and-scan cable TV showing. Perhaps Kino-Lorber can remedy that and do a new release of the film, which would probably be well-received as this is something that’s been bashed for so long, viewers will see and appreciate its good qualities. If you’d like to HEAR one of its best qualities, here is the original soundtrack LP (in stereo) of Henry Mancini’s music for GUNN–NUMBER ONE, featuring Mancini’s A-team of jazz players, including Bud Shank, Shelly Manne, Plas Johnson, Jimmy Rowles, Bob Bain, Pete Candoli and Ray Brown. Enjoy!

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