Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Happy Birthday, James Garner!

Today is the 82nd birthday of one of my all-time favorite actors, James Garner.

I've been a Garner fan since discovering MAVERICK and THE ROCKFORD FILES as a teenager. MAVERICK aired in syndicated reruns at the time, while ROCKFORD was in its original primetime run on NBC.

My admiration for Garner increased when I learned how well he treated his fans via my experiences with the James Garner Fan Club. I was able to meet Mr. Garner on two occasions, and he is a class act.

My favorite Garner film is SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969), which is a comedy gem. I first saw it in a theater when it was rereleased in the '70s. Now we own the DVD; my kids often show this one to their friends, and they all love it too. If you haven't caught up with this movie yet, add it to your Netflix queue or Amazon wish's rib-tickling fun for all ages.

I also especially like THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963), THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964), and MURPHY'S ROMANCE (1985). For the most part, however, Garner's greatest work has been on television, including not only his TV series, but high-quality TV-movies such as ONE SPECIAL NIGHT (1999).

At a recent Home Theater forum chat reported by TV Shows on DVD, Warner Home Video execs asked about the DVD future of TV shows from the '50s and '60s said "We are looking at potential future opportunities, in particular, MAVERICK."

Of course, over a year ago it was reported that MAVERICK was headed for the Warner Archive, and we're still waiting. Perhaps the delay has been because Warner has reconsidered turning the show into a regular retail pressed release? That would be far preferable.

Either way, it's been a long wait for one of TV's all-time great shows to reach DVD. It's been 4-1/2 years since a "sampler" DVD was released with three of the show's most famous episodes. The so-so 1978 TV-movie THE NEW MAVERICK has been out on DVD for a couple of years now, but still no MAVERICK.

Meanwhile, as regular readers know, I am rather appalled by the ROCKFORD FILES remake currently in the works, starring Dermot Mulroney and Beau Bridges. ROCKFORD is one of those rare series where the actor, James Garner, is the character and the show.

ROCKFORD creator Stephen J. Cannell remarked in the L.A. Times yesterday that "it's gonna be so hard" for the remake to succeed, because it won't have the show's key ingredient -- James Garner. I'd say that's an understatement. I'd much rather just slip in a DVD of the original series.

Maybe by this time next year we'll also have MAVERICK DVDs to enjoy and I'll be able to erase my tapes recorded from the Encore Westerns Channel. Here's hoping!

Happiest wishes and my great appreciation to Mr. Garner on his birthday!

2012 Update: Coming to DVD: Maverick - Season 1.

2013 Update: Coming to DVD: Maverick - Season 2.

July 20, 2014 Update: Very sad news -- James Garner has died.


Blogger mel said...

Thanks for this post, Laura - James Garner is one of my top favorites too.

Gawrsh, you actually met him on two occasions? Lucky you!

I sometimes think I'm living on the wrong continent...

8:56 PM  
Blogger ItsNotAPlace said...

We recently viewed Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter - Great fun movies. (Seeing Harry Morgan is fun too). And I loved watching Reruns of The Rockford Files as a kid, until I knew them all! We own the remake of Maverick (with Mel Gibson and James Garner)... still has that spark and I loved seeing Gibson and Garner together as father son! Great match up!.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to know we share another favorite, Mel!

So glad to hear of SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF being a hit with another family. :) Lots of great Garner viewing mentioned!!

Best wishes,

11:49 AM  
Blogger Joan Taber said...

I adore James Garner. How jealous I was of Sally Field who got to play opposite him in Murphy's Romance. In fact, I'm still jealous. Oh well.

2:49 PM  
Blogger CrystalClear said...

Have been a James Garner fan all my life - my happiest childhood memories are of watching Maverick with my dad who was also called James (as is my son)
Hope Mr Garner realises how much his fans across the pond still follow his brilliant work. (His films with julie Andrews and Doris Day are delightful!!)
My best wishes to him. God Bless
Edith Sanderson (Scotland)

9:52 AM  
Blogger guy123 said...

i too am a huge james garner fan....i absolutely love "the rockford files"...thank goodness for "hulu" which show them..when i really want to treat myself to an enjoyable ngt i watch an episode(always satisfying)..James Garner is "the Man"-no one like him...i love how he puts old(but not forgotten) actors/actresses on his show..ex.joseph cotten..thks james garner and thks for this blog!!!

9:22 PM  

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