Thursday, October 03, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

James Garner stars in the delightful Western comedy SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969), just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I first made the acquaintance of this film as a child, when it was reissued theatrically in the mid-'70s. By now I've seen it countless times, and in my opinion, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! is one of the funniest films ever made. I still laugh out loud every single time I see it.

James Garner plays Jason McCullough, who arrives in a wild and woolly Gold Rush town as he's "just passing through on my way to Australia." McCullough is good-natured and unflappable in the face of violence, and he's also a crack shot. He soon agrees to become sheriff, a job which provides room and board while enabling him to do some prospecting on the side and build up a nest egg.

The sheriff's first order of business is to arrest Joe Danby (Bruce Dern) for murder; Danby claims it was self-defense but the sheriff saw how things really went down and is determined justice will be served. There's just one problem: The bars for the doors and windows in the town's new jail haven't arrived yet...

When Joe's mean Pa (Walter Brennan) and dumb but ornery brothers arrive in town to bust him out of jail, most of the townspeople go into hiding, excepting the loyal "town character" turned Deputy Sheriff (Jack Elam) and Miss Prudy (Joan Hackett), the accident-prone but attractive daughter of the town mayor (Harry Morgan).

The movie has one hysterically funny set piece after another, none of which will be spoiled here; simply watch and enjoy. Garner, in the performance most reminiscent of his work in my favorite TV series, MAVERICK, is utterly charming and relaxed; I think this may be his single most appealing performance.

He's very well matched with Hackett; the scene where she praises his proposed plan to flee town as "mature" is marvelous. I love that Garner's character isn't put off by the situations Prudy inevitably seems to find herself in, but instead is amused by her. The evolution of their relationship leads quite naturally to a perfect final sequence.

A number of years later Garner and Hackett would reteam in the fine TV-movie THE LONG SUMMER OF GEORGE ADAMS (1982). Hackett's too-early death in 1983 was a great loss to all who enjoyed her work.

Walter Brennan, not looking much different than he did as Old Man Clanton in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) over two decades before, here gives a hilarious spin on that role as the father of an inept bunch of would-be Western villains. The scene where he confronts the sheriff in the jail is one of the best in the movie.

The film was written by William Bowers and directed by Burt Kennedy; Bowers wrote razor-sharp, funny dialogue in countless film noir titles and Kennedy wrote the best Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher Westerns, making them the perfect team for a Western satire.

A side note of interest, much of the film was shot on the Warner Bros. lot; Miss Prudy and her father live in "Marian the Librarian's" house, though the shooting angles disguise that somewhat. The clarity of the Blu-ray makes it possible for the viewer to notice things such as the fact that the sidewalk surrounding the house has been covered with dirt for a rural Western look, but a close look reveals the curbs peeking through.

The movie runs 92 fast-paced minutes. It was filmed by Harry Stradling Jr.. The supporting cast includes Henry Jones, Willis Bouchey, Gene Evans, Kathleen Freeman, and Walter Burke.

Watch closely as two men try to pull Prudy away from a meeting; the man on the left is Luis Delgado, Garner's longtime stand-in who also played small roles in many of his projects.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray includes the trailer, a trailer gallery for four additional Westerns (including SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER, to be reviewed here soon), and a commentary track by film historian Michael Schlesinger.

Kino Lorber has also released this film on DVD.

Very highly recommended. A good time is guaranteed!

Update: Here is my review of Kino's Blu-ray release of SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (1971), which is not a sequel but has several of the same cast members, along with the same director and cinematographer.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

All these years and I never realized that was Miss Marian's house!

A movie I can never turn away from and often seek out for the most comfortable of pleasures.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

My husband had to point out which house it was, Caftan Woman! A comparison of the screen to my lot photos showed he was correct. :)

Like you, I can't stop watching this if it shows up on my TV screen. A real "feel good" film which always makes me smile.

Best wishes,

11:21 AM  

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