Sunday, June 13, 2010

'Warning Shots' is a film that hasn't aged well

Warning Shot (1967)
Starring: David Janssen, Keenan Wynn, Lillian Gish, Stephanie Powers, and George Grizzard
Director: Buzz Kulik
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When police detective Tom Valens (Janssen) shoots someone he believed to be armed and dangerous, but no weapon is found and the dead suspect turns out to be a much-loved, famously philathropic doctor, he finds himself on trial of manslaughter. Already found guilty by public opinion, Valens races against the clock--the start of his trail where he will certainly be found guilty and sent to prison--to figure out what happened to the gun he knows he saw, as well as figure out why such an esteemed person was behaving so suspiciously.

"Warning Shot" is a mildly interesting cross between a detective story and a courtroom drama. It's an interesting enough little story, but it suffers from the fact that the character of Tom Valens never really emerges from the generic "tough, honest cop innocently accused" template. Yeah, he lives off nothing but buttermilk, and he has a troubled marriage, but that's about it. Heck, we gain more insight into the character of the DA hell-bent on railroading Valens than we do into the character we're supposed to sympathize with.

There are certain parts of the film that haven't aged well--such as some "news-footage" included to illustrate how the public is leaping to the conclusion that Valens is some wacked-out, gun-happy cop who just blows people away willhe-nillhe. The inclusion of a stereotypical hippy had me giggling, although the filmmakers most certainly were not looking for that reaction. Overall, though, the film is worth seeing, but it's not particularly great, despite its line-up of great actors.

(As of this writing, "Warning Shots" is out of print, but it can probably be rented from any number of sources.)

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