Friday, July 8, 2011

Discretion is the Garner Part of Valor

This week, we of Team Bartilucci are saluting one of our favorite actors, James Garner. We mentioned his playful suavitude as one of our Suave Hall of Famers last October in our "Flico Suave" blog post. But by golly, the former James Bumgarner deserves a post all his own, so here it is!

Dorian's Pick - Marlowe (1969): Out of the Past, Into the '60s
Before the good people of Warner Archive recently made Marlowe (1969) available on DVD, I think the last time I saw it was on the 4:30 Movie when I was a kid in the Bronx! But before we talk about James Garner’s performance as author Raymond Chandler’s iconic private detective Philip Marlowe, I think it’s important to provide some background. Marlowe has been played in the movies (and on TV and radio, too, but let’s stick to the movies for this post) by a remarkable variety of actors, with performances ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. For me, I’m afraid Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye wins in the “ridiculous” category. In Robert Altman’s version, Gould looks and acts like he’s auditioning for Columbo. Yes, I know the Gould/Altman version has its fans, and I’ve liked Gould in other roles, but I just don’t think he’s a good fit as Philip Marlowe. Years earlier, in 1947, George Montgomery had tried his hand at playing Marlowe in The Brasher Doubloon. I’ve never had an opportunity to see the film, alas, but judging from the trailer and the bits and pieces of the film I've seen on YouTube, young Montgomery was trying to look older behind a dapper mustache. Eventually, Montgomery quit show business to run a wildly successful furniture business. Does anybody here know if there's a legal DVD of The Brasher Doubloon available anywhere? But I digress….

Happily, the sublime Marlowes outshine and outweigh the lesser ones. My own favorites include Humphrey Bogart in Howard Hawks’s 1946 film version of Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep; Robert Montgomery directing himself in MGM’s offbeat but compelling 1947 adaptation of Lady in the Lake (I’ll admit that one’s an acquired taste, and by golly, I’ve acquired it!); and three different but thoroughly entertaining versions of Chandler’s 1940 novel, Farewell, My Lovely. The first film version actually used the plot for one of George Sanders’s Falcon movies, The Falcon Takes Over (1942). Instead of Chandler’s Los Angeles, The Falcon Takes Over is set in my beloved New York City, with Ward Bond as Moose Malloy and Team Bartilucci fave Hans Conried as Lindsay Marriott. Edward Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet (1944) was a far more faithful adaptation despite the title change; the producers were afraid that the title Farewell, My Lovely sounded too much like a musical. But by any title, Murder, My Sweet helped Dick Powell shatter his image as a crooner, establishing him as a big-screen tough guy forevermore. Dick Richards’s 1975 version restored the original Farewell, My Lovely title, and Robert Mitchum commands the screen as another one of my favorite Marlowes. Mitchum was terrific in Michael Winner’s 1978 version of The Big Sleep, too, although I wasn’t crazy about many other aspects of the film, especially its transplant from 1946 Los Angeles to 1978 England, and its overreliance on blood and violence to keep audiences awake.

Electric Company: Sparks fly between Marlowe and Dolores 
This leads us to Marlowe star James Garner at last! Vinnie and I have been die-hard Garner fans since we were kids. When we were growing up, we watched him on TV in his long-running TV series The Rockford Files, not to mention vintage reruns of Maverick and films like The Great Escape (1963), The Americanization of Emily (1964), 36 Hours (1965), The Thrill of it All (1963), and so many other terrific films of many genres. Garner is always a likable onscreen presence, with a touch of the antihero about him and more acting range than people give him credit for. Garner is another one of those actors who makes it look easy, rather like a laid-back American Cary Grant. He has a wry, breezy style (I get a kick out of his catchphrase “I’m a trained detective”), but he’s also tough, sardonic, and introspective when he needs to be. He even matches Marlowe’s description in the novels; what’s not to like?

Marlowe certainly has a promising pedigree, with a terrific cast and multi-award-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, Charly, The Towering Inferno) adapting Marlowe’s script from Chandler’s 1949 novel The Little Sister. Indeed, the theme song was actually titled “Little Sister,” with music by Peter Matz and lyrics by Norman Gimbel, sung by the then-popular band Orpheus, who’d had a big hit with “Can’t Find the Time.” Lang Thompson’s absorbing article on the TCM Web site describes Orpheus as “a psychedelic pop band,” but for me, “Little Sister” and the other Orpheus songs I found on YouTube evoked The Lettermen’s greatest hits more than, say, The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints.”

The opening credits show a young man taking surreptitious photos of a sexy couple getting wet and wild in what’s obviously supposed to be a private pool. The woman turns out to be popular sitcom star Mavis Wald (Gayle Hunnicutt), who should perhaps use some of her sitcom earnings for better security, or at least better friends. You see, Mavis’s pool buddy turns out to be notorious mob boss Sonny Steelgrave* (played by H.M. Wynant, whose many TV and movie appearances include roles on 77 Sunset Strip, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, and the genre spoofs of Team Bartilucci favorite Larry Blamire, of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra fame). Can you say “blackmail”? I knew you could!

Party line-up with camera shop guy,
Marlowe, & his girl Friday, er, Julie
We first see Marlowe when he comes to question one Haven Clausen (love these names!) about Orrin Quest (Roger Newman), the missing person our hero is trying to find. The investigation comes to a literal dead end when Marlowe discovers Clausen with an ice pick in the back of his neck. Cut to our exasperated hero Marlowe and his memorably-named young client, Orrin’s sister Orfamay (Sharon Farrell, who moved on to even greater success in the long-running TV soap opera The Young and the Restless). To borrow a line from Clifton Webb in Laura, Orfamay seems to have “come from an incredibly rustic community where good manners are unknown,” not to mention common sense and emotional stability. Orfamay accuses Marlowe of not trying hard enough to find the long-missing Orrin, who’s apparently gone underground with the hippie/flower-child types, this being set in 1969. Maybe Orrin ran off to be an Orpheus roadie? In any case, Orfamay runs hot and cold under the best of circumstances, tearfully angry at Marlowe one minute and trying to seduce him the next, which might have interesting possibilities if she didn’t dress like a little kid wearing her granny’s dresses, among her other oddball qualities. As gallant as he is world-weary, Marlowe returns Orfamay’s retainer, but over the course of the film, she keeps popping up with her hot-and-cold routine. Look, Toots, Marlowe gave you back your retainer; quit pestering the poor guy and find another P.I. already!

Whodunit? Take your pick!
But even a pesky, emotionally unstable client is better than a dead one. That ice-pick killer is shaping up to be a serial killer, and the latest victim is one of Marlowe’s clients, Grant Hicks (Jackie Coogan). Marlowe calls from the boarding house, trying to get info about Hicks’s murder by feigning a folksy Southern drawl: “I’m a former tenant in Clausen’s roomin’ house. I was just checkin’ out when he tried to call you. That was before somebody mistook him for an ice block.”

Future Emmy-winner Paul Bogart directed; ironic, considering that Humphrey Bogart (no relation) was, in my opinion, the best movie Marlowe (no offense intended to the beloved star we’re saluting this week). Entertaining and well-cast though it is overall, Marlowe could have used a tweak or two. Silliphant’s script works hard to balance out the old and new elements, but the movie sometimes felt a bit unstuck in time to me. True, Quentin Tarantino has been doing that in his films since the 1990s, but Marlowe sometimes feels like its Chandler-esque elements are being shoehorned in. The characters’ first names sound very 1940s even though the setting is 1969 L.A., which might well have been intended as a tribute to Chandler’s original material. And I know the hairstyle Hunnicutt wears in the scene in Mavis’s apartment was probably cutting-edge in the late 1960s, but I wish she had cut it off instead. It makes the otherwise beautiful Hunnicutt look like she has ultra-long sideburns! Does the fact that Chandler’s 1949 novel was updated for the 1969 movie version make this a period piece for us 21st-century viewers? That said, when the ’40s elements work, they work quite well indeed, like placing Marlowe’s office in L.A.’s landmark Bradbury Building.

When Marlowe’s client gets knocked off, there’s hell toupee!
In addition to Garner, Hunnicutt, Farrell, and Coogan, Marlowe’s great cast sparkles with past and future award-winning TV and film stars, including Carroll O’Connor as Lt. Christy French, before the groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family put him on the map as bigoted loudmouth Archie Bunker; Rita Moreno, who later had a recurring role on The Rockford Files with Garner, as well as winning an Oscar (for West Side Story), a Tony (for The Ritz), a Grammy, and and Emmys, ALMAs, BAFTAS, and so many more, bless her! No wonder Moreno is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records! And let's not forget superb supporting actors William Daniels (not to be confused with the film’s Director of Photography, Oscar-winner William H. Daniels!); Jackie Coogan as the ill-fated Grant Hicks; and Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World, among others) as Sgt. Fred Beifus.

Warning: Drugged cigarettes can be hazardous
to a private eye's health!
The plot has shades of old Hollywood, including a nice bit where Marlowe is in a TV station and finding himself more absorbed in a Greta Garbo film than in the live rehearsal going on. But with all due respect to Garner and company, it’s young Bruce Lee who steals the show as smiling, snappily-dressed henchman Winslow Wong, who basically beats up Marlowe’s office! Lee only has two scenes, but they’re the very best scenes, if you ask me. Good thing Marlowe doesn’t have any staff; someone could get hurt! Ah, the pros and cons of being an independent contractor!

Who needs HGTV? Leave your next office makeover to Winslow Wong!

“Sonny Steelgrave” was a character name also used by the late writer and TV producer Stephen J. Cannell, if I recall correctly. (Vinnie says: "She's right - he was a bad guy on the first season of Wiseguy, played by Ray Sharkey.")

Vinnie's pick - Support your Local Sheriff (1968) : "We're All Behind Ya!"
Most of James Garner's greatest roles are virtuous men who know how to fight perfectly well, but choose to think, talk or bamboozle their way out of a situation, if not just plain run away, so they may live to to run another day. Jason McCullough, lead character of Support Your Local Sheriff, is a perfect example of this. He arrives in Calendar, Colorado a short time after gold is discovered in the open grave of one Millard Frymore. Everyone's so gold-mad that the few people in the service industries (and I don't mean Madame Orr's House) are able to charge eight dollars for a "tasty home-cooked meal" and twenty for an eight-hour shift on a cot, so Jason is forced to find work, and the position of Sheriff happens to be available. As opposed to the previous three holders of the position, Jason takes to it easily, using a combination of confidence, bluster, and a reputation that spreads like wildfire. Ten minutes on the job and he arrests Joe Danby (Bruce Dern) whom he saw kill a man in a gunfight earlier in the day. Now the brand new jail has no bars yet, but with the help of a few drops of red paint on the floor to pass as blood, Joe stays in his cell nice and tidy.

The town is filled with wacky characters played by beloved character actors, including Harry Morgan, Henry Jones and Jack Elam as Jason's deputy Jake. Joan Hackett plays the mayor's daughter Prudy, a tomboyish young lady who doesn't seem to know what to do with her hands when the Sheriff's around. Garner walks smoothly through the chaos unruffled, pulling his gun when he has to, but most of the time getting people to do what he wants by wits and generally confounding the hell out of everyone. When Pa Danby (Western legend Walter Brennan, parodying his role in My Darling Clementine) shows up to break Joe out of jail, Jason stops him by sticking his finger in Pa's gun barrel. After killing endless hired guns, he drives one out of town by throwing rocks at him.

When the Danbys assemble a small army to come after the Sheriff, he makes it clear that he plans to pack up and run. Expecting to be branded a coward, he's surprised when Prudy describes it as the most mature thing she's ever heard from a man. That so flusters Jason that he changes his mind and plans to stay and fight it out against the Danbys. The final gunfight is as good as in any classic western, but still packs in the laughs.

One of the coolest aspects of the character is how he really is a tremendous fighter and a better shot, but chooses to keep that under wraps, like a claw. When presenting himself for the position to the town council, they ask for his credentials. He replies with a simple "Oh, don't worry, you'll be glad you hired me". When they ask for some provenance, he takes a large washer, flings it up in the air and shoots through the center. The council is reticent to believe him, pastes a stamp over the hole, and asks him to repeat the stunt. He does, effortlessly. The change in tone from Harry Morgan is priceless.

James Garner produced the film through his company Cherokee, and like Humphrey Bogart's self-produced films through Santana, his films are tailor-made for him. He followed this up with Support Your Local Gunfighter, which did not feature the same characters, but did feature much of the same cast, giving the mistaken impression that it's a sequel. It doesn't hold up for me; for one thing, his character is more of a con-man in the film, and as I've mentioned, I prefer it when he plays a good guy, as opposed to my other favorite character type, the charlatan with a heart of gold.


  1. Where do I begin? Where do I begin? Take deep breaths, Yvette.

    That's better.

    I love James Garner too. But I'm afraid when I was watching MAVERICK, it was the first time around, Dorian. (Vintage reruns - HA!) Yes, I am an old geezer. (Hence all my understandable memory lapses.) Wouldn't have missed a MAVERICK episode for the world. Now when THE ROCKFORD FILES came up a few years later, I watched, of course. But in my heart, it was always Maverick for me.

    First and foremost I don't think I've ever seen MARLOWE in its entirety. Something about it is very familiar though - Rita Moreno for one - but it's possible I've only seen snatches of it for one reason or another. Still, as always, I've enjoyed your post.

    And may I say that I am, obviously, the only member of the I Love George Montgomery Club (Mr. Dinah Shore).
    Wait, that makes two members.

    I LOVED his Phillip Marlowe and THE BRASHER DOUBLOON is one of my favorite movies if only I could find it these days to watch again....sigh!
    I just have such fond memories. But maybe it's better not to have them dashed. I mean, it's possible that I'm wrong and the rest of the world is right about George.


    H.M. Wynant. Kenneth Tobey. Carroll O' Connor. What's not to like? And you know I love Rita.

    It's possible that the updating of this MARLOWE to 1969 L.A. when fashions and hairstyles were at their lowest ebb kept me from watching the film completely through in the first place. I'm just guessing.

    At any rate, I should watch it straight through one of these day and thanks to you, I probably will.

    On the western front: Was there ever a man who looked more easy in his western clothes and attitude than James Garner?


  2. Yvette, one person's "vintage" is another person's "new discovery." When I talk about my favorite classic movies and TV shows (including MAVERICK -- and I agree, Garner wears Western gear well! :-)) to my daughter Siobhan and our nieces and nephews around her age, I feel like I'm teaching a pop culture history class -- and I love it, because I'm planting the seed that'll grow future classic movie fans and/or book fans, and so are you! The world needs more people like us! :-) By the way, thanks for reminding me that Dinah Shore and George Montgomery were husband and wife. Dinah certainly had a dazzling array of notable fellas in her life -- but that's a story for another time. :-)

    I agree that the late 1960s styles of hair and clothing feel like an odd fit in MARLOWE; I can't help thinking of the stories set in the 1930s/'40s. Filmmakers who want to adapt stories by Chandler, Hammett, Cain, and other hard-boiled storytellers of that ilk should embrace that era when they tell these stories -- but maybe you and I and others we know who enjoy these stories are "old souls," inside no matter what our birth certificates say! :-)

    As always, Yvette, it's a delight to chat with you here at TotED! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Fun Fact, folks: According to the IMDb, the title of SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF is a parody of a bumper sticker popular around the time it was made, "Support Your Local Police" part of the "law and order" movement led by such contemporary politicians as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Wallace in the 1960s. In fact, I remember seeing those bumper stickers on cars when I was a just a wee shaver myself!

  4. Is it weird to say that my favorite James Garner role is "Space Cowboys?"

    Anyway...I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on something. Neither Gould NOR Garner are Philip Marlowe. Only Humphrey Bogart is. I'm sorry...but it's just one of the facts of life.

  5. Nate, no apologies necessary -- as I said myself in my part of today's Team Bartilucci blog post, Humphrey Bogart is THE best movie Marlowe EVER! Elliott Gould, eh, not so much! :-) While James Garner is always an amiable presence, I'm the first to agree that Bogart could take all comers! :-)

  6. Well, I became a Permanent James Garner Fan with the debut of the original Maverick series too, but I refuse to call myself an old geezer! :) I mean, I was only 13 at the time! Oh well, enough of THAT!

    I really enjoyed Marlow - James Garner was in it! - perhaps because it was so much like another Garner effort that I loved a few years later. Does anyone remember the line from Marlow when Marlow was getting beaten up by a thug, and he said, "Does your mother know what you do for a living?" Do you remember when he spoke that same line in The Rockford Files?

    As for Support Your Local Sheriff, it's in a class by itself - even for Jim Garner. I don't know how many times I've seen it, but I laugh every time. Gotta love it when Jim sticks his finger into the barrel of Walter Brennan's six gun.

    My all time favorite Garner movie - Duel At Diablo. Yep, that's it.

  7. Suzanne, welcome to Tales of the Easily Distracted, and thanks for Following this quirky little blog of ours! :-) We're delighted that you love James Garner as much as my husband and I do, including the line "Does your mother know what you do for a living?" That line has always been one of our favorites! I read your latest post from "James Garner - The Quintessential American," and I totally enjoyed it! I've signed up for your updates. Thanks for joining in the conversation, Suzanne; feel free to drop by any time!

  8. What to do...what to do? Truth or fib? I guess only truth will do. First, just to get it out of the way, my vote goes to Robert Montgomery as Marlowe in Lady in the Lake. That said, -- your articles were great fun, lots of really interesting history and humor, as we have come to expect from Team Bartiluccie, and you never disappoint. But...the Big But (we used to love to say that as kids tee hee)...I don't like either movie. (Don't hit me!) James Garner is handsome, easy-going, charming -- I'm just not a big fan except for a few of his performances.

    In his best-known persona, I liked him very much in the Americanization of Emily and the Great Escape. For his easy-going humor, I liked Space Cowboys (don't feel alone, Nate!) But I think his best performances were in two Hallmark Hall of Fame shows -- "My Name is Bill W." and "the Promise", both with James Wood. "The Promise" in particular was outstanding. Maybe it's because I am drawn to the genre of drama most of all. The majority of Garner's movies and TV shows tend to be light and laid-back, or at least I always thought of them that way, and it's just not my thing.

    I already made one ill-advised confession of classic movie blasphemy on another blog (No, I'm not tellin'!). So maybe fibbing would be better? Nah...the real point is the excellence of your reviews, and there is no doubt about that!

  9. Becky, the truth is always better, if only because it's easier to remember! :-) And for the record, I like SPACE COWBOYS, too; heck, how can anybody NOT love that ensemble cast? Anyway, Vinnie and I assure you that you're allowed to feel lukewarm about James Garner and still be our friend, this being a free country and all! :-) We're glad that you enjoyed our writing even if the subject matter wasn't your cup of tea. Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for Team B.'s SLEUTH blog post for the Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Appreciation -- I suspect that'll be more to your otherwise impeccable taste, my friend! :-)

  10. I love the way you put your sweet and subtle point -- "OTHERWISE impeccable taste." ROTF! Sleuth is definitely in my line -- fabulous movie! Looking forward to it!

  11. "Support Your Local Sheriff" spoofs everything near and dear to my heart (My Darling Clementine, Winchester '73, High Noon, etc.) and I consider it the number one comedy-western of all time.

    Garner voices the bad guy in the Disney animated feature "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". My daughter was young when we saw this, but to this day she teases me about my shock and dismay at "my Jimmy" turning into a Disney villain.

  12. Caftan Woman, I speak for Vinnie and myself when I say I'm delighted that you love SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF, too -- thanks! Also, I agree with your daughter: when I first saw Disney's ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE, we were stunned to see (or more accurately, hear :-)) that James Garner's character turned out to be a bad guy. On the bright side, it was a nice reminder that Garner really does have range! :-)

  13. Hey, gang, our ever-delightful Yvette brought this Jim Rockford "action figure" to my attention! It's a hoot! Check out the link below:

    Thanks, Yvette!

  14. Finally, Blogger's commenting system no longer hates me! I HAVE been reading your posts Dorian...just sadly unable to comment due to the evilness of Blogger. I'm just going to say, I LOVED the ones on Laura & All About Eve especially!!

    GAH! James Garner is deffo my favorite Sixties actor. I can't think of a "least favorite" performance from him -- and even Cary Grant doesn't have that kind of record with me.

    I started watching Maverick when I was 12 or 13. And since then I've eagerly watched every hard to find episode that I could get my hands on! There was even an episode where Bret got stuck being the sheriff of Duck-N-Shoot...and it reminded me of Support Your Local Sheriff! in some ways. Except that he didn't want to be the sheriff and left poor Brother Bart with the job in the end. I LOVE THOSE MERCENARY MAVERICK BOYS.

    I also love James Garner's two pairings with Doris Day. In my opinion, they made a better screen team than Rock Hudson & Doris Day. (Everyone raises their eyebrows a la Simon Templar at me when I say this.)

    But clearly, James Garner is just Bret Maverick forever and ever. The man could con me into almost ANYTHING. I'm rather tempted to hunt up Marlowe now!

    I don't know if you've heard, but I've taken up blogging again in small way -- at The Stupendously Amazingly Cool World of Old TV!

  15. Emm, we're delighted to have you back, out of Blogger's evil clutches -- we miss you when you're not around! Thanks for following us here at TotED in spite of the Internet obstacles! Glad you loved my posts about LAURA and ALL ABOUT EVE, too!

    You said: "GAH! James Garner is deffo my favorite Sixties actor. I can't think of a "least favorite" performance from him -- and even Cary Grant doesn't have that kind of record with me." Once again, Emm, you've proven yourself to be a young lady of superb taste and breeding! I also agree that Garner and Doris Day were a terrific screen pairing, even better than Doris and Rock Hudson; you could feel that playful "zing" when Jim and Doris shared the screen, especially in THE THRILL OF IT ALL.

    Emm, I'm also happy to see you blogging again! I've already left a comment for you on THE STUPENDOUSLY AMAZINGLY COOL WORLD OF OLD TV, and I look forward to following your posts!

  16. Garner also has the honor of starring in the film of one of the most stolen plots in the history of entertainment, maybe second only to The Most Dangerous Game.

    36 HOURS is about a soldier who, after being attacked by the Nazis, wakes up in a US Army hospital. He's told it's six years later, the war is over, and he's been having memory lapses ever since the attack, which is the last thing he remembers. It's all a scam; he's been taken by the Nazis to get the details of the D-Day invasion.

    Written by Roald Dahl, from whom all good things come, the story has showed up in varying forms on episodes of Mission Impossible, The Prisoner, UFO, and so help me, G.I. Joe.

    Garner's most recent (I refuse to say "last") role was to play the wizard Shazam in one of DC Comics' DVD movies. This is awesome.

  17. Now THIS I'm interested in! Remember, I did say I liked Garner in his more dramatic roles. I've never seen 36 Hours and it sounds right up my alley. I don't know, Vinnie -- you and your better half (I was going to say "other half" but "better" is funnier), are forcing me to open my brain to Garner rethinking. Clever subliminal sorcery!

  18. Thanks for putting in your two cents about 36 HOURS, Becky! No charge for the "clever subliminal sorcery"! :-) (We aim to please!)

  19. Great reviews of two fine James Garner films. I agree that MARLOWE has its flaws, but it's still an entertaining picture. Its source novel is probably the weakest of the Marlowe books (excluding Chandler's draft of PLAYBACK, which was eventually published). For me, Dick Powell is the definitive movie Marlowe...but I still enjoyed Garner's interpretation. I agree, though, that Bruce Lee steals the show in his few scenes. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF is the kind of vehicle that capitalizes on Garner's strength and that makes it a very entertaining film. Loved your take on it, Vinnie.

  20. Rick, we of Team Bartilucci thank you for your praise of our James Garner double-feature! Good point about the relative weakness of MARLOWE's source material, Raymond Chandler's THE LITTLE SISTER. For the record, while Garner did a great job as Marlowe, Humphrey Bogart is still my favorite movie Marlowe, but your choice, Dick Powell, is definitely a VERY close second in my book! :-)

    It had been a while since I'd had a chance to give SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF my undivided attention, but both Vinnie and I were happy to use our blog as an excuse to gush about it! :-) It's one of the laugh-out-loud funniest Western comedies ever, and we're delighted that you enjoyed Vin's take on it!

  21. I so agree about SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! It really is amazingly laugh-out-loud funny. It's my favorite Garner film, probably followed by THE THRILL OF IT ALL. AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY and MURPHY'S ROMANCE are also really good.

    I also agree about SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER and him being better as a hero than con man. One of the mistakes the BRET MAVERICK series of the '80s made is they treated Bret more as a conman, when if you watch the original show, the Mavericks used their tricks against bad guys (the most notable example being the famous "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" episode). They were the good guys, not really con men! :)

    I'm also a Garner fan from way back. ROCKFORD started when I was a pre-teen and I became a HUGE fan of MAVERICK reruns as a teenager. I've even collected some original scripts from the show! I was also a longtime member of his fan club and met Mr. Garner twice. (Also met Jack Kelly!)

    Thanks for a most enjoyable post, along with the great "conversation" in the comments!

    Best wishes,

  22. Laura, we're happy to hear you love James Garner and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF as much as Vinnie and I do! I'm also glad to hear you're a fan of THE THRILL OF IT ALL, which I don't think is appreciated as much as it should be. I agree with you that James Garner's characters, especially in MAVERICK, are more appealing and entertaining as clever good guys who use their tricks against bad guys, rather than being roguish (albeit charming) con men themselves. Thanks for joining in the conversation, Laura; stop by TotED and sit a spell anytime! :-)

  23. Sorry to be just now catching up with this post, Dorian. I've always had a soft spot for Marlowe, maybe because I played Marlowe myself in a stage adaptation of The Little Sister 24 years ago. (My favorite Marlowe, just for the record, was Powell. But whaddoo I know; I even prefer the early, Bacall-deprived cut of Big Sleep.)

    As for The Brasher Doubloon, I have (I hope) good news for you: It's available here from Loving the Classics. Legal? I guess so, since they're right out there on the Web for all the world to see -- although with more than a whiff of bootleg, and variable quality. Still...

  24. Jim, I bet you were a knockout in that stage production of THE BRASHER DOUBLOON! Any photos to show us? Furthermore, Dick Powell is one of my very favorite Marlowes; granted, I'm a fan of Powell's comedy and tough-guy performances anyway. And many thanks for the tip about THE BRASHER DOUBLOON being available from Loving the Classic, even considering its semi-legal status. :-)

  25. Great Stuff! Found you through The Official James Garner Fan Page where you posted the link to your blog.

  26. Hey, Man (if we may so address you :-)), we're delighted that you found us and enjoyed our post about Our Man Garner! Any fan of James Garner is our kind of person! Thanks a million for your kind words, and feel free to drop by TotED and join the conversation anytime!