Monday, July 21, 2014

James Garner (1928 - 2014)




James Garner, whose great ease and charm on screen has convinced generations that he was only playing himself, does his thing in the greatest comedy-western of all time, 1969s Support Your Local Sheriff!. Written by William Bowers and directed by Burt Kennedy, the movie spoofs everything which is near and dear to my heart, My Darling Clementine, Red River, Rio Bravo, High Noon and Winchester '73, et cetera.

Jim plays Jason McCullough, a stranger in town who drifts into the sheriff's job.  Life is complicated by every character actor from every western you have ever seen including Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, Willis Bouchey, Walter Burke, Bruce Dern, Gene Evans and Kathleen Freeman.  

The scene posted here for your pleasure has Jim/Jason working out his High Noon dilemma with off-kilter leading lady, Prudy, played by the extremely talented Joan Hackett.

16 comments:

  1. Perfect choice, Caftan Woman! For title of greatest comedy-western, I might put it in a tie with the 1939 Destry Rides Again, but on this sad occasion, I'll concede the title. James Garner had an extraordinary gift for the seemingly effortless light-comedy performance. He made it look so easy.

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    1. Your choice for the top spot, Lee, is one I have very little argument with. Actually, I can't argue with it at all. What nudges "Support Your Local Sheriff!" into the top spot for me might be the line: "He stuck his finger in the end of your what?!"

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  2. I remember liking SHERIFF when I saw it, but I didn't realize it parodied so many Westerns - not that I'm an expert on the genre.

    I may have watched THE ROCKFORD FILES, but I would've been way too young to remember it. I remember those Kodak commercials he did, though. And he was very good in THE CHILDREN'S HOUR.

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    1. The more westerns you see, the more you can see the direct aim of the spoof in "Support Your Local Sheriff!". I know for certain that I didn't get any of them the first time I saw the movie. It is only thanks to my misspent youth that I can pick out the specifics.

      "Rockford" was regular viewing in our house. My dad loved the show, and so did we girls. What's not to love?

      The Polaroid ads: http://www.technologizer.com/2014/07/20/james-garner/

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  3. My wife and I watched SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF about a year ago. I had forgotten how delightful it was. The sequel, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER, is still fun--just not as good. You're right about James Garner making acting look easy. That was one of his gifts.

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    1. "Sheriff" really holds up to repeat viewings. It's just as fun knowing when the laughs are coming up.

      I get a kick out of "Gunfighter" as well. Love John Dehner! Suzanne Pleshette's line about Miss Whozits school for young ladies on the Hudson cracks me up.

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  4. Ah, what a man he was! I guess my fave is Murphy's Romance. He is just so sweet in that - made me want to take him home!

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    1. When "Murphy's Romance" was released I wasn't yet 30 and Jim, a5t 57, was playing an "old guy". Seems just about right to me now!

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  5. I thought he was sadly underrated in "Victor/Victoria", a steadying influence amidst all the lunacy. He seems to be the character the audience can identify with, very smart casting from Blake Edwards. There will never be another like him.

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    1. I so agree. With so many outlandish characters, there was "King" like "Alice in Wonderland" trying to keep up with it all. That movie still makes me laugh as much as the first time I saw it. Actually, a rare occurrence - a night at the movies with my mother. She's the sort who doesn't do repeat viewings even if she saw the movie once in 1954!

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    2. Loved "Support your local Gunfighter." Jim was great at Light comedy and RomComs. Next to Rock Hudson, he's probably my favorite Doris Day Co-star. And of course, there's Rockford. I'll never forget the episode with Tom Selleck (Lance White), Garner's expression of exasperation would have made Eddie Albert proud.

      Great write up.

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    3. "White on White and Nearly Perfect" lives in legend around here. I keep telling my daughter about the episode, but she hasn't seen it yet. It's a keeper!

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  6. Garner made it look so natural, so easy and I think that's why it's easy to overlook him as one of the 'greats'. I'm happy to have been reminded of the full breadth of his legacy over the past few days, the role I always remember is Victor Victoria and (of course) Maverick

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    1. I so agree. The trouble with those "makes it look easy guys" is that they "make it look easy". We'll always have the memories and the great performances to enjoy again and again.

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  7. Nice tribute to one of the greats, Caftan Woman! I was very saddened when he passed recently. He made everything he did on screen look so easy.

    I can't remember if it's ...SHERIFF or ...GUNFIGHTER that has one of my favorite comedy moments in a western, when Garner draws a chalk line on an open floor in the "jail" and tells a bamfoozled, recently arrested inmate (Bruce Dern, maybe?) that he's not to step past the line. Good stuff.

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    1. That chalk line cell is one of my favourite part of "...Sheriff!". Bruce Dern is a hoot!

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