As a fan of the TV series (1958-61) I have to say this is a huge,huge,huge disappointment. Craig Stevens seems uninterested and is the only cast member to show up from the original series. Lola Albright (Edie), Herschel Bernardi (Lt.Jacoby) and Hope Emerson (Mother) wisely sit this one out. A very grown up Sherry Jackson who gained fame as a kid on “Make Room For Daddy” shows up and at the very end Carol Wayne who made frequent appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” makes a quick appearance.
In spire of it all Ed Asner gives an excellent low key performnce as Lt.Jacoby
The Henry Mancini soundtrack is lame. He makes a blink and you’ll miss him appearance as….a piano player. Laura Devon as Edie tries to sing a couple songs. Bad decision. Towards the end a group called The Gordian Knot is just awful doing a song that sounds a lot like The Vogues hit “Five O’Clock World.”
The boring script was written by series creator Blake Edwards along with “Exorcist” author William Peter Blatty. So much time is wasted trying to show that Gunn is hip and there’s not a woman on the planet who can resist him. There’s an embarrassingly bad sequence in a so-called hipster club called The Monkey Farm where everybody calls everybody “Man.”
The movie opens with the murder of gangster Julio Scarlotti on his boat. He sees another boat approaching his and thinks it’s from the Coast Guard. Gunn goes to his funeral and is told by Nick Fusco (Albert Paulsen) that some changes will be made. Scarlotti had saved Gunn’s life and Lt.Jacoby (Ed Asner) warns Gunn not to do anything. Fusco is suspected of the hit.
That night Gunn goes to Mother’s to see his girlfriend Edie (Laura Devon). Mother (Helen Traubel) says Fusco is raising the rates of his protection racket and Daisy Jane, owner of an exclusive bordello is also getting a raise in rates. Daisy wants Gunn to take Fusco out for ten grand.
Showing up in Gunn’s apartment is Samantha (Sherry Jackson) She says she had to meet him. Bad timing. Edie is headed up the steps to the apartment. Gunn almost gets her out when Samantha is heard screaming. A hit man came into the apartment. Gunn chases him and bullets are exchanged. Lt.Jacoby is outside and kills the hit man., Edie’s discovery of Samantha doesn’t go over well.
Gunn goes to see alkie Tinker (J.Pat O’Malley). He gives him a lead to follow. Later he dies when he drinks his wine that someone laced with cleaning fluid. He whispers a name before expiring. Gunn also goes to a club called The Monkey Farm (see above). In an arcade in the back is The Bishop (Regis Toomey). He says the name sounds like a waterfront Marine Hardware store.
Through it all it seems he can’t get rid of Samantha. He’s finally successful and drops her off in town. He goes to Mother’s to make peace with Edie. She gives him a hard time until he manages to get into her dressing room. Before everything can be sweetness and light an explosion occurs in the club. Some one put dynamite under the club. Mother is seriously injured.
Outside Gunn gets in his car. Someone sticks a gun in his neck. Samantha watches them drive away. He’s taken to an athletic club where Fusco likes to play racket ball. Gunn is forced to go into a court where Fusco is playing with one of his minions. He tells Gunn to get up against the wall and the game begins. Gunn is knocked down. Fusco says if he doesn’t find out who is responsible for killing Scarlotti he’ll end up in the river.
The movie drops some of its silliness but it’s too little too late. The supposedly shocking ending has been done several times before. This is a total waste of time. It really trashes the Peter Gunn character. All the smoothness is gone as he comes across as a cardboard cutout of himself.