BR: Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)

April 26, 2016 | By

SupportYourLocalSheriffGunfighter_BRFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: Good

Label:  Twilight Time

Region: All

Released:  February 16, 2016

Genre:  Comedy / Spoof / Western

Synopsis: A gambler and womanizer is mistaken for a hired gun in a wacky mining town with feuding families and eccentrics.

Special Features: Isolated mono music track / Theatrical Trailer / 8-page colour booklet with liner notes by film historian Julie Kirgo / Also includes 1969 precursor Support Your Local Sheriff! / Available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment and / Limited to 3000 copies. 



Burt Kennedy’s follow-up to the hugely successful Support Your Local Sheriff! (1971) isn’t a sequel nor sort-of sequel, but a regrouping of the director’s stock company in an alternate reality where James Garner is trapped in a lawless mining town with feuding entities, and a combustible finale.

It’s a novel approach that’s more clever than a straight sequel, assembling most of the familiar faces from the original, but placing them in somewhat different roles. Garner plays womanizer Latigo, an okay gunslinger who escapes a spontaneous marriage to a Madame fueled by booze and greed, while Jack Elam returns as a sidekick who’s still not quite bright, but inherently decent, even when he’s being served up as a decoy for the rival mining factions drilling from opposite ends to the central location of an assumed mother load.

Suzanne Pleshette goes extremely broad playing love interest ‘Patience’ as a crackhead brat who confuses Latigo for an enforcer hired by the rival mine, and spends a good chunk of the film trying to kill him. Harry Morgan, Willis Bouchey, and Henry Jones return in slimy roles, and the chief villains are John Dehner as a sly, corrupt self-styled mining magnate, and Chuck Connors as the minimally verbal (and bald!) gunslinger Swifty Morgan.

Dub Taylor steals the film as the local doctor whom Latigo needs to remove an embarrassing chest tattoo that’s never properly attended to because Latigo can’t stay away from the roulette table, pissing away every fortune that amazingly comes his way. Folded into the loony antics is Madame Jenny, the spurned would-be bride that keeps Latigo running and ducking for cover.

Kennedy’s cartoon flair hits gold in Gunfighter, with dynamite actually packaged in giant cherry red crates, and unlike Garner’s McCullough in Sheriff, Latigo has that one big gambling problem, betting everything on number 23 for reasons never quite explained. James Edward Grant’s script offers a stronger (yet still quite offbeat) buddy bonding between Latigo and broke cowhand Jug May (Elam), and the film has a similarly cute closing monologue which breaks the fourth wall, winking at the audience and pretty much saluting them for supporting this second spoofy misadventure.

Harry Stradling Jr.’s cinematography is more elegant in this production, as is the elaborate mining town and town centre where gunfights, dances, and explosions occur. Jack Elliott and Allyn Ferguson’s score is pretty solid, and is isolated in mono in a separate track.

While Cinema Retro’s Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo didn’t contribute a related commentary track for Gunfighter, their ruminations that accompany Sheriff provide enough context on the regrouped actors and director who created this unique alternate reality. It’s perhaps a shame a third effort never materialized, but then maybe Garner and Kennedy felt they’d struck gold in transcending the perils of a sequel, and left good enough stand on its own. (Garner was also appearing in his short-lived series James Garner series, whereas Kennedy filmed two other movies released in 1971: The Deserter for producer Dino De Laurentiis, and the grubby rape-revenge western Hannie Caulder with Raquel Welch.)

Twilight Time’s disc includes fine transfers of Gunfighter and Sheriff, each with its own isolated mono music tracks sporting previously unreleased scores, and respective trailers.



© 2016 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  —  Soundtrack Album
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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