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Warning Shot
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
  • La-La Land Records / 2012 / 58:14 (score 29:31)

Warning Shot was a police thriller released in 1967 in which David Janssen plays a cop accused of brutally shooting an unarmed man and then fights to clear his name.  Janssen was at the peak of his television popularity at the time and Paramount had hoped this would translate into big box office but that didn’t happen and, while he appeared in a few more movies, his biggest success continued to be on the small screen.  Indeed, several reviews of Warning Shot suggest it had more of a television air about it (and in fact IMDB suggests it was a tv movie – which I don’t think is correct).

This was the first of four films scored by Jerry Goldsmith during the year and the ensemble he used to play the music is again rather more suggestive of television than cinema – just 18 players, no strings, and there’s a very jazzy vibe running through the music.  Three saxophones, piano, hammond organ, percussion, bass, guitar and a bevy of brass make up the ensemble, which produces a sound in keeping with a few other Goldsmith projects around the time, most notably Our Man Flint and In Like Flint and The Man From UNCLE.

Jerry Goldsmith in the 1960s

Jerry Goldsmith in the 1960s

The wonderful main theme – again, very much in line with those other projects – is the highlight, a dynamic jazzy showstopper that deserves to be much more well-known than it is.  It’s great in all its incarnations through the score – particularly noteworthy is when Goldsmith turns it into one of his trademark solo trumpet “detective themes” for the finale (but even then he cranks the volume up again to bring the piece to an explosive conclusion).  The other theme of note is “Miss Alice”, piano and flute with harp accompaniment playing the lovely tune.  There’s some decent action material too – perhaps “The Gasser” the highlight there – and the composer’s use of early synthesisers to bring a slightly unsettling sound is in some ways a precursor to the sound he employed on several tv movies in the 1970s.

The soundtrack release for Warning Shot at the time was a bit unusual in that it didn’t feature Goldsmith’s original recording or even a special album recording by him; instead, Paramount commissioned bandleader Si Zentner to record a selection of cues from the score purely for album purposes and to augment them with themes from a few other Goldsmith films.  That half-hour album has also been included on La-La Land’s première CD release of the score.  Inevitably, it captures the jazzier moments of the music very faithfully, but the rather grim underbelly to much of the score is notable by its absence, arguably making the Zentner recording a slightly more enjoyable listen.  Also included are jazzy arrangements of the themes from Von Ryan’s Express, The Prize, A Patch of Blue and The Man from UNCLE.

It’s not really a major Goldsmith score, but it’s nice to have a release of Warning Shot.  The theme is fantastic, so are a couple of the other cues, and there’s nothing in it that is less than enjoyable.  Unfortunately the sound is very poor for the original tracks – mono, culled from the music-and-effects track of the film, it features occasional bleed-through from dialogue and sound effects.  This is rarely intrusive, but if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself looking round the room wondering where the talking’s come from on at least a couple of occasions while you’re listening to the album.  This is a shame, but presumably the choice was to release it in this way, or not at all; and it sounds nothing like as bad as a couple of other Goldsmith scores which have been released from around this period.  By contrast the Zentner album is reproduced in terrific sound, adding to my feeling that it’s probably the recording of choice of Warning Shot for now.  Anyway, this is a good release for Goldsmith fans and the main theme is a little-known treasure.  *** |

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