Warning Shot has been a personal favourite for many years. It stars David Janssen in what I consider to be one of his best screen roles: that of Sgt Tom Valens. Without giving too much away, Valens is accused of shooting an innocent man, a doctor, while on a stakeout. He insists the doctor pulled a gun on him, but no gun can be found at the scene. Can Valens find it and prove himself innocent? It means discrediting a hitherto saintly man who, it seems, never did anything but good in his life.
Janssen is superb in this role! He underplays for all he is worth and that, essentially, was his greatest strength as an actor. It's a subtle, low-key study in desperation, and no one did this sort of thing better.
And what a cast! Some of these great names only have cameo appearances, but here is the line up:
Ed Begley - Valen's bull-necked Captain
Keenan Wyn - A fellow Sergeant who can't quite believe his friend is innocent
Sam Wanamaker - a cop hater and prosecuting attorney; out to nail Valens in court
Lillian Gish - a dotty old lady and former patient of the good doctor
Stefanie Powers - the doctor's former secretary
Eleanor Parker - the doctor's heavy drinking, but still glamorous, widow
George Grizzard - a tenant at the apartment block where the doctor was shot, who divides his time between being a private pilot, and having a whale of a time with his bikini clad, babe neighbours!
George Sanders - an unctuous, smooth, stock broker who looked after the doctor's finances.
Steve Allen - what else, a talk show host, but this time with a nice line in playing devil's advocate
Carroll O'Connor - head of the preliminary hearing at which Valens is committed for trial
Joan Collins - Valen's estranged wife
Walter Pidgeon - a renowned defence attorney
Vito Scotti - a slightly over-the-top, camp fashion designer
All are very effective, but Sam Wanamaker, George Sanders, Steve Allen, Ed Begley and George Grizzard are just superb, and Eleanor Parker makes a fantastic lush. "At least my olive is black" she declares as she downs another martini after her husband's funeral.
The story is great, the direction is perfectly paced to allow you to enjoy the material, and the score, by Jerry Goldsmith, is the icing on this particularly moreish cake.
If you are a Janssen fan and haven't seen this film, buy it, you won't be disappointed. If you like a good crime drama with a great twist and a flawless cast, do likewise. I have to say, David Janssen was one of the all time greats and his early death was a terrible tragedy. Let's hope we see much more of his work released on DVD.