I’m going to do another Mike Post theme today. It’s for The Rockford Files, and he wrote it with Pete Carpenter. I’m not that fond of it. It’s fine. It’s not annoying. But it is hardly the Barney Miller theme. But I wanted to related a story about the show.
When I was younger, I loved the show. (It is still a very good show with excellent writing.) My friend Will and I used to watch it when we were in middle school. And we saw one episode that had a great impact on us, “Beamer’s Last Case.” In it, Rockford comes back from vacation to find that someone has been impersonating him. He finds out that it is a mechanic at the garage he uses, Fred Beamer (James Whitmore Jr). Beamer has read too much Dashiell Hammett. But he has stumbled upon an actual case involving some local gangsters.
The problem is that he is getting in Rockford’s way. What’s more, Beamer is setting himself up to get murdered. So Rockford sends him away on a bus to northern California on the track of the “Artichoke King.” (There actually was a guy known by that, Ciro Terranova, but he died in 1938.) So Beamer is on the bus, but he can’t be silent. He loudly explains to the woman next to him what he’s doing. And this resulted in one of Will and my go-to lines to sum up stupid bravado, “Do I pack a gun? Yes, I pack a gun!”
This was back in 1978. There was no internet. So that line is just what we remembered after the show was over. And so that is what we repeated. But decades later, I saw the show again. Sadly, we got the line wrong. It is, “Do I carry a gun.” And it works brilliantly in the episode. But if you had to sum up the Beamer character in a short space, “pack” is really helpful because it adds that feel of 1930s hard-boiled detectives. Not that anyone knows what Will and I are talking about most of the time anyway.
I would like this theme a lot more without those Moog and harmonica synth sounds: