7 August 2012 | GMJames
Not bad, but not good either.
My memories of the gritty but not totally successful private eye drama "P.J." are rather hazy and incomplete. As several other writers have mentioned, the movie was heavily edited for television after the movie's original release. Even as an impressionable kid, I wondered why P.J. (George Peppard) was badly beaten up without knowing who did it and what happened to the guy on the subway platform that threatened P.J.'s life? The two sequences, as well as several others edited scenes, made "P.J." on TV a rather bland and disjointed mess.
On a hunch, I was able to finally see an unedited, pan-and-scan version of "P.J." a few days ago. Regrettably, the movie was not as good as I remembered. This is despite good performances by Peppard and Raymond Burr, who probably relished the offer of playing a bad guy after many years as Perry Mason, as well as Gayle Hunnicutt as the femme fatale.
The musical score by Neil Hefti and the New York locations certainly set the mood. (Some of Hefti's interludes sounded a lot like his score from the movie "The Odd Couple". "P.J." was released a few months before "The Odd Couple".)
I don't consider "P.J." a classic because of some misguided creative decisions by the writers and director and production choices in which scenes that were obviously filmed on the Universal back lot took me out of the story on occasion.
However, I believe that movie studios are doing themselves a disservice to the public by not releasing this and other movies to the web or on DVD. There are horrible movies in the past few years that are on the web or released on DVD but a 1968 film that was not necessarily a classic and did not win any awards is shown illegally on a popular web page. To Universal, release the film on a widescreen format and let the public decide if the movie is worthy.