With actor James Garner passing away recently I knew I had to write my blog for Friday about one of his movies. Garner was good at dramas, but I especially liked his performances in comedies and thus my choice, Support Your Local Sheriff.
The film begins with the good people of Calendar, Colorado attending a funeral. As the mourners gather around the grave, Prudence Perkins( the lovely Joan Hackett), known as Prudy, sees gold sparkling in the grave and she jumps in to stake a claim for the gold! Townsfolk run to find their shovels and picks and begin digging. More gold is found and soon there’s a gold rush on in the formerly tiny, quiet town.
Prudy’s dad, Olly(Harry Morgan), is the mayor and he has two major problems: 1. The richest family in the area, the Danby’s, control the road that people have to take to leave Calendar. The Danby’s have decided to demand an exorbitant amount of gold from the citizens and visitors in order to let them use that road. 2. The sheriff is gunned down by the Danby’s and so are the other 2 replacements. Calendar is now a rowdy, lawless place, and Mayor Perkins’s at a loss about solving these problems until a stranger arrives in town.
Jason McCullough is just passing through on his way to the coast and a boat to Australia. While at the saloon, he realizes he needs to get a job to earn some money in order to pay the road toll and he sees Joe Danby(Bruce Dern) shoot a man for no reason. Jason is able to impress the Mayor and other civic leaders with his gun skills and he accepts the job of sheriff. His first task is to arrest Joe Danby, who isn’t too smart, and puts him in jail. Unfortunately, the jail is newly built and the bars haven’t been installed yet so Jason draws a chalk line and red paint and psychological mind games in order to keep Joe in the jail! Jason also hires the town drunk, Jake( the always great Jack Elam), to be his deputy.
Calendar settles down, the townspeople like the new sheriff and so does Prudy. However, Pa Danby(Walter Brennan), the patriarch of the Danby clan, hates the new sheriff and vows to have him killed and get Joe out of jail. Danby gathers hired guns to take out Jason, whom the civic leaders and Mayor have informed that he is on his own when he takes on the Danbys. Prudy and Jake valiantly decide to help Jason against the baddies coming to town. All ends well and Jason and Prudy ride off into the sunset with a Happily Ever After ending.
Support Your Local Sheriff was made in 1969 and it was a meant to be a comedy/western. Directed by Burt Kennedy and produced by William Bowers, who also wrote the screenplay. James Garner was also the executive producer on the film.
For a fun look at the traditional western with a professional and spunky cast, seek out this film! One can’t help but imagine that the cast and crew probably had a blast making this entertaining film. It is available to rent or purchase through Amazon, it is on a 3-dvd set available to buy from TCM Shop, and here is a trailer for the movie that audiences would have seen in 1969.