Director Walter Grauman gets creative on “Peter Gunn”

In his Archive interview, director Walter Grauman vividly recalls a story about one of the episodes he directed for the 1950s-60s detective series Peter Gunn.  Despite TV’s short production schedules, Grauman, still in the early part of his career, wanted to experiment with the lighting of a particular scene to enhance the drama, to the clear annoyance of the crew.

“Russell Metty, who was a famous cinematographer, showed me something that I couldn’t believe. I was directing Peter Gunn and I wanted to play a scene entirely in the reflection of a bay window.  And everybody was complaining, ‘oh, we can’t light that,’ or ‘that’s too tough, it would take too much time.’  And I turned to Russ and I said, ‘Russ, can you light this, so I can do the entire scene?’  He said, ’sure.’  I said, ‘how long will it take?’  He said, ‘about 5 minutes.’ And he got brutes and poured light into there.  The only thing was [the actors] were in there for 3 minutes and they were pouring sweat.  It must have been 120 degrees in there. So we’d wipe them off and I’d shoot it real fast.” — Walter Grauman

Although Grauman didn’t remember which episode this scene appeared in, classic TV has never been more accessible to the television scholar and fan, making the identification of this particular Peter Gunn episode possible (as part of the DVD “Peter Gunn, Volume 1″ [which conveniently streams on Netflix®]).  The episode appeared in the first season and aired on February 23, 1959, entitled “Edie Finds a Corpse.”

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