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A&E Home Video presents
Peter Gunn: Set #2 (1959)

"I hate people throwing Molotov Cocktails at me. It burns me up."
- Peter Gunn (Craig Stevens)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 26, 2002

Stars: Craig Stevens, Lola Albright, Herschel Bernardi, Hope Emerson
Other Stars: Nita Talbot, Stanley Adams, Jeff York, Peggy Stweart, Ralph Moody, Ruta Lee, Marjorie Bennett, Billy Barty, Jackie Coogan, Jeanette Nolan, Ellen Corby, Meg Wyllie, Bill Chadney, James Lanphier
Director: Blake Edwards, David O. McDearmon, Robert Ellis Miller, Boris Sagal, Walter E. Grauman, Jack Arnold, Lamont Johnson

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 06h:29m:36s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
UPC: 733961703962
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+B+B- C-

DVD Review

Set two of the Peter Gunn series brings another sixteen episodes, which were originally broadcast in 1959. Each half-hour installment follows a familiar theme—someone is offed in the opening, then Pete is contracted to find the perpetrator, whether he knows that's what he's doing or not. His character does away with the raincoat-clad private eye image, instead sporting him in fashionable suits. He doesn't reside in a downtown office, he hangs out at Mother's, a hip jazz joint where his gal croons as the feature attraction, and the establishment's owner, Mother, serves as his link to information on the waterfront underworld. He even has a phone in his car—commonplace now, but this was 1959!

Aside from his classy appearance and smooth demeanor, Peter Gunn has an assembly of associates who help out with his cases. Herschel Bernardi (Irma la Douce, as well as the voice of "Charley the Tuna" and the "Jolly Green Giant"), plays Jacoby, the police lieutenant who has a love/hate relationship with Pete and is always there to back him up, despite wishing he wasn't involved in many of the jobs he winds up on. Pete's informer circle contains an assortment of strange characters, from Babby, the midget pool shark to Wilbur, the jivey jazz club owner.

There were thirty-eight episodes in the first season, and this set brings us up to number thirty-two. The second half of the season contains a number of memorable episodes, allowing Craig Stevens to stretch a bit in the role, while upping the humor. Let's Kill Timothy pairs Pete up with an unlikely companion; Pecos Pete decks him out in western garb; and Scuba sticks him in a wetsuit and flippers. The interplay between Pete and his faithful, always-waiting girlfriend Edie (Lola Albright, Joy House) provides more comic relief to the serious subjects. There is plenty of action, and invariably a showdown before the final credits. This Peter Gunn gets the job done.

Ratings are based on five slugs; the original airdate is in parenthesis.

17. Let's Kill Timothy (1/19/1959)

"We get a lot business after hours." - Mother (Hope Emerson)

After a jewel thief runs off with the goods during a heist, he hires Gunn to protect Timothy, but there's something fishy that Pete won't find out about until the deal is "sealed." Features Mother performing a private concert.

Costars Mel Leonard, Henry Corden, Arthur Hanson, and Frank Richards.

18. The Missing Night Watchman (1/26/1959)

"Enough of your vulgarisms." - Phillip Lasdown (Murray Matheson)

A body gets dumped off the pier, and Peter is hired by the proprietor of an antiquities shop to locate a stash of diamonds owned by an eccentric collector. Be prepared for some great dialogue.

Murray Matheson and Howard McNear costar.

19. Murder on the Midway (2/2/1959)

"Ladies that change their mind that fast, scare me. " - Peter Gunn

The carnival is in town, but there's murder under the big top. Gunn is hired to keep a close eye on a seductive temptress, a job Edie has some objection to when the pair show up at Mother's.

Nita Talbot, Stanley Adams, Jack Lomas and Claire Meade costar.

20. Pecos Pete (2/9/1959)

"Honey, there comes a time when everybody has to go to Texas." - Peter Gunn

There's trouble in Texas when a cowboy gets clobbered, and his brother, a cattle baron, hires Pete to find his killer. The welcome is none too warm, even when Pete goes native and dons the local attire. Mancini's score takes on a western swang. Marks the introduction of the new series logo design.

Costars Jeff York, Peggy Stewart, Ralph Moody and Tom Fadden.

21. Scuba (2/16/1959)

"The police, I gotta talk to. You, I don't." - Mike Garvin (Bern Hoffman)

A series of unsolved robberies have an insurance company looking to Pete to find the culprits. The investigation begins where a partner in a diving company was found murdered, and Pete hooks up with a Don Ho fan who is into water sports.

Costars Charles Cooper, Bern Hoffman, Gertrude Flynn, Jackie Blanchard and featuring Eva Lynd, Diane Webber and Georgina Darcy as the Aloha Sisters.

22. Edie Finds a Corpse (2/23/1959)

"What's the matter?! I just saw what I saw, and you ask what's the matter?" - Edie (Lola Albright)

Edie gets a shock when she discovers a stiff in her apartment, and it's up to Pete to get to the bottom of the caper. There goes the neighborhood.

Costarring Ruta Lee, Myron Healey, Barbara Darrow, Marjorie Bennett, Josephg Kearns, Joseph Sargent, William Justine, William Idelson.

23. The Dirty Word (3/2/1959)

Pete: How's the memory?
Fuzzy Crane (William Fawcett): Forgettin's the tough part.

A swank publisher is shot at his own party, and the chief suspect is an investigator Pete owes a favor to.

Linda Watkins, Tom Brown, Simon Scott, Joseph Holland, Lester Fletcher, William Fawcett and David Hughes costar.

24. The Ugly Frame (3/9/1959)

Peter: You think up something interesting to talk about, and I'll be back soon.
Edie: I don't need to think up anything, I'm loaded with topics.

A popular deli owner is gunned down, and Jacoby is out for vengeance. Pete uses his contacts to help out, but there is more going on than meets the eye. Billy Barty returns as Babby the informant.

Features Lewis Charles, Jimmy Murphy, Sandy Kenyon, Shep Sanders, John Bliefer and John Hudkins.

25. The Lederer Story (3/16/1959)

"Murderers, detectives—it's things like this that are going to give my joint a bad reputation." - Mother

A woman stumbles into Mother's after hours asking for Pete, then collapses dead on the floor. When Pete visits the victim's residence—a yacht—he meets with some resistance to his inquiries.

Costars Otto Waldis, Sam Edwards, Roxanne Brooks, Margaret Muse, Tom McKee, Roy Jensen and Jack Richardson.

26. Keep Smiling (3/23/1959)

"I've already got it nailed down to only 4000 suspects." - Jacoby

A blackmail scheme gone bad leaves a professional bowler dead. Another player, who has gotten himself into a compromising position, hires Pete to recover the evidence. Let's see them choppers, Pete.

Mara Corday, Jackie Coogan, Bob Hopkins, Mario Gallo and David Cross costar.

27. Breakout (3/30/1959)

"That's a lot of money for an address." - Peter Gunn

A man convicted of murder during a payroll robbery escapes from prison. Pete is hired to look for the lost brother of a client swathed in bandages, claiming to be an accident victim. The brother turns out to be a shady character who is keeping a low profile, and Pete begins to suspect his client isn't on the up and up.

H.M. Wynant, Frank de Kova, Tenen Holtz, John Anderson

28. Pay Now, Kill Later (4/6/1959)

"Somebody took some shots at me. I dislike that." - Peter Gunn

Pete is hired to locate a scientist responsible for framing a man who served 14 years for a homicide he didn't commit—who is also the scientist who was supposed to have been murdered.

Costars John Abbott, Torin Thatcher, Vito Scotti, Louis Quinn, Leslie Dennison, Hekene Marshall, William Shallert, Tony Michaels, Jean Engstrom and John O'Malley.

29. Skin Deep (4/13/1959)

"He love 'em rich, but if they're not, he love them anyway." - Miguel (Jose Gonzalez-Gonzalez)

The assignment this time out is to locate a rich woman's sister who has mysteriously disappeared, and foul play is suspected. The path leads to a gigolo who was apparently dating the sister, but as the facts emerge, there's something fishy in the air. This episode features a performance by flamenco guitarist, Laurinda Almeida.

Katherine Bard, Eduardo Noriega, Muriel Landers, William Sage, Marian Collier, Hal Smith, Jose Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Bea Limon and Pat Cominsky costar.

30. February Girl (4/20/1959)

"All men have enemies, it's your friends of whom you must be wary." - Rector (Frank Maxwell)

Edie's friend looks for Pete's help after she witnesses a murder—of the man she had planned on killing herself. The pin-up girl's only problem in identifying the killer is that she is blind without her glasses, something the suspect doesn't know, which makes her a target. More lush dialogue.

Costarring Fintan Meyler, Frank Maxwell, Leonid Kinskey, Mark Allen, Tony Russo and Tamar Cooper.

31. Love Me to Death (4/27/1959)

"Looks are deceiving." - Irma Goffney (Ellen Corby)

A pair of rich spinsters are upset with their sister's new man, who they think is only out for her money. They engage Pete to look into his past, but when it turns out the man has a history of blackmail, the results could be deadly. This episode even features James Bond.

Costars Jeanette Nolan, Robert H. Harris, Helen Wallace, Ellen Corby, Lucien Littlefield, Clegg Hoyt and Pitt Herbert.

32. The Family Affair (5/4/1959)

"To some people, my imminent demise is not quite imminent enough." - B.E. Raleigh (John Hoyt)

After narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, a man who sent his nephew to prison receives a death threat from the young man, and hires Pete to find him before it's to late.

Costars Alan Hewitt, John Hoyt, Reggie Nalder, Bek Nelson and Meg Wyllie.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is quite good overall, but with 6 and a half hours of material dating from the late 1950s, there are some source problems that crop up here and there. For the most part, contrast is good, and grayscale well rendered, if a little shy on shadow detail. Textures come out cleanly except in a few places. Print damage, a few jump frames, and other things one would expect from material this old are here, but aren't that frequent. Compression issues arise on occasion, as do some aliasing and cross-coloration. It isn't perfect, but looks pretty good considering its age.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Like the video, audio quality varies from episode to episode. It is quite good for the most part, but some episodes have noticeable hiss, crackling, distortion, or excess sibilance, which are pretty much consistent for the duration of the program. Infrequent occurrences like pops or clicks generally accompany a video defect. For its age, this is quite acceptable, though there could have been a bit of compensation for the sibilance and hiss levels in a couple of episodes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia game
Extras Review: Each disc has a trivia game covering three episodes. A video clip is played, then you are required to use your observation skills and memory to answer correctly.

Menu access only covers the episode starts, but there are three additional chapters accessable while playing the program.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Sharp as a tack, cool as a cucumber, Peter Gunn is the stylish eye with a nose for danger. With its twisted plots, clever dialogue, abundant humor, and great characters, this 1950s series packs a lot of entertainment value into each half hour. Henri Mancini's trademark theme and jazzy soundtrack put Gunn in a league of his own. Despite some flaws in the presentation, this is still a good-looking set with some hip and exciting stories, daddy-o.


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