WATCHING THE DETECTIVES Themes & Music from Classic TV Crime Shows and Movies


This compilation of 25 tracks covering TV and Film Theme’s if a marvellous find. It’s from London based Jasmine Records, a label for the discerning listener featuring music across many genres’s. Over the coming months they are going to release a collection of original soundtrack albums from US crime tv shows and films, says their CD insert. This, I am looking forward to.

The tracks are digital remixes from the original source and the quality is very good.We start with perhaps the most famous of US crime tv series Dragnet with it’s iconic 4 note motif constantly used to punctuate comedy sketches or impending drama. The theme was recorded in 1953 and hit the top of the US pop charts.
Interestingly both Walter Schuman and a certain Miklos Rozsa have composing credits as Rozsa contested the authorship of the theme claiming it was taken from his 1946 score for The Killers. It was resolved by them both receiving royalties.

2 tracks follow from the late 50’s/60’s tv show Johnny Staccato music by Elmer Bernstein and starring John Cassavetes. This is a fabulous jazz piece blaring in parts and cool nightclub jazz in others. Walk Alone from the same show is pure Bernstein with a slinky under score and a slow brass and guitar main melody. It also has a solo piano piece in the middle which changes the tracks direction to a slow tempo, it’s a gem of a track.

Same can be said for the luscious theme from The Naked City. Slow jazz played by Mundell Lowe and his All Stars. Slow jazz continues to dominated with Fred Steiners opening theme to Perry Mason, another class tv score.
Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane’s hard nosed detective, is characterised with a cool saxaphone theme with an upbeat tempo and is followed by Riff Blues from the same show.
We move into a dark and tense landscape with the theme to the 1950 film noir The Asphalt Jungle. A weaving and low tone piece in which you can hear the signature nuances of Miklos Rozsa. Next and million miles away in style is Duke Ellington’s slick composition for the 1961 tv series of the same name.

Two solid Henry Mancini tracks are next. Experiment In Terror [1962] and the luscious tv theme Mr Lucky which can be enjoyed on most Mancini easy listening compilations. From 1960-64 you could hear the hip Nelson Riddle classic to the TV series Route 66, a finger clicking track oozing of glamour.
A compilation like this would not be complete without a Count Basie tv theme and it comes in the form of M Squad where we also hear The Juke Box from the same series, a smooth trombone jazz composition by Benny Carter. Riddle returns in the anthemic theme to The Untouchables.

You can really let rip with the finger clicking theme to 77 Sunset Street as 2 clicks form the basis of the main melody with backing singers singing it’s show title. This series starred the fabulously named actor Efram Zimbalist Jnr. Theme composed by Mac David & Jerry Livingston. Worth noting that one of the composers of the series music was Jerry Fielding. Accompanying the theme is a 2nd track The Stu Bailey Blues, Stu being the main character played by Zimbalist.

Here’s a treasure of a find, the theme to Danger which ran from 1950 to 1955 which was a series of plays featuring psychological & murder mysteries. This show was a platform for young actors such as Rod Steiger, Anne Bancroft, Kim Stanley and Ben Gazzara. Guitarist Tony Mottola wrote the incredible theme. It starts with a straight guitar strum which is then accompanied by male singers and acts as the base line whilst female singers bring on the melody. It’s eerie and tense and must have stood out from other 50’s themes.

Trumpets and kettles drums herald the theme to Richard Diamond, a tv show I have not heard of. This time it’s about suave private eye played by David Janssen and the suaveness shows in the brass running over a troubled under score, especially in the 2nd track Richard Diamond’s Blue’s. Both tracks composed by Pete Rugolo.

Duane Eddy’s exciting guitar accompanied by a sleazy sax set the tone for Peter Gunn [1958-1961] starring Craig Stevens as the well fashioned private detective. Another theme that has slipped into the realms of ‘iconic’.

Elmer Bernstein is back with the glorious Man With The Golden Arm, a 1955 movie with Frank Sinatra as the burnt out junkie Frankie Machine. With a continuous back beat under a jazz cacophony, this perfectly fits the frantic mind of Machine. Having listened to the whole of Bernstein’s superb score – the theme is enough to eek out the entire soundtrack.

Touch of Evil is a very different score from Mancini, a little hard edged and paired down which fits the corruption and murder in a Mexican border town. It does retain some fun with the bongo drums keeping pace with strong bass. The second track from this movie featured on this CD, opens with the bongo’s and has a faster pace. The Boss is less slick but no less exciting.

It all cheekily ends on another 50’s TV show theme Highway Patrol, heavy brass and a important sounding voice as to what the patrol does which was fighting crime on the highways. A fitting end track to this CD.

This CD is worth having in your collection be it for nostalgia or sheer enjoyment. It makes you realise how prevalent jazz was in the 50’s and 60’s on many soundtracks. And I for one, would like to see a comeback in that. The quality of this CD is very good with a track list which is rich and worth preserving. Sadly, couldn’t find a credit for the cover art which very striking.


1. Dragnet Theme
2. Johnny Staccato Theme
3. Walk A Lonely Street
4. The Naked City Theme
5. Perry Mason theme
6. Hammer Blow
7. Riff Blues
8. The Asphalt Jungle [Movie Theme]
9. The Asphalt Jungle [TV Series Theme]
10. Experiment in Terror Theme
11. Mr Lucky Theme
12. Route 66 Theme
13. M Squad Theme
14. The Juke Box
15. The Untouchables Theme
16. 77 Sunset Strip Theme
17. The Stu Bailey Blues
18. Danger Theme
19. Richard Diamond Theme
20. Richard Diamond Blues
21. Peter Gunn Theme
22. Main With The Golden Arm Theme
23. Touch Of Evil Theme Theme
24. the Boss
25. Highway Patrol Theme

Available direct from
And available as a CD or download.

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