Support Your Local Sheriffs and Gunfighters!

April 26, 2016 | By

JamesGarner_pic_sYears ago, when Toronto’s City TV was good old Channel 79, two films seemed to get regular rotation in the late night schedules: Burt Kennedy’s western spoofs Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), a pair of broad comedies starring the indestructible James Garner.

I use the term indestructible because one could regard his career as Teflon-shielded, immune to bad reviews, weak films & scripts, and shifting between genres and mediums. He was a star in film and TV, beginning when he upgraded from the cheeky TV western Maverick (1957-1962) to film classics The Americanization of Emily (1964), 36 Hours (1964), Duel at Diablo (1966), and Grand Prix (1966).

Alongside the Support diptych, Garner also co-starred in the satirical race relations critique Skin Game (1971), and when worthwhile characters became more sparse, Garner moved back to TV, achieving his greatest success in The Rockford Files (1974-1980), a series later reborn via a 8 decent TV movies in the 1990s.

His subsequent film roles were largely smaller and supportive – Clint Eastwood’s extremely goofy Space Cowboys (2000) succeeds purely because of its stellar older male and female cast – but his grin tended to act as an auger for any filmic weaknesses.

Unlike Burt Lancaster’s signature grin – broad and often a wink at the audience which could shatter a film’s suspension of disbelief – Garner’s grin showed the kind of humility that made even cartoon caricatures sympathetic, and making his more subtle wink at audiences oddly organic to a film. Kennedy’s comedic pokes at westerns are quite broad, but they’re refreshingly clever, and extraordinarily well cast with a mass of familiar faces known to fans of 60s and 70s TV, and Twilight Time’s neat double-bill upgrades these perhaps forgotten classics to HD with some notable extras.

Coming very shortly: reviews of two noirs from Twilight Time – Otto Preminger’s underrated Where the Sidewalk Ends (1951) and the Encore Edition of Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953).




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Tags: , , , , ,


Comments are closed.