Posts Tagged ‘Harry Morgan’

My Classic Movie Pick: Support Your Local Sheriff

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.

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.

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Walter Brennan, leader of the baddies, is Pa Danby

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

Prudy and her dad, Mayor Perkins

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.

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Jason likes Prudy so why not start to court her?

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

Bruce Dern as dimwitted Joe Danby

 

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.

They all lived Happily Ever After

They all lived Happily Ever After

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

Jason uses a cannon to outwit the hired guns

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.

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My Classic Movie Pick: The Shootist

Today’s post is for the great James Stewart Blogathon.  Hosted by an excellent  blog that I enjoy reading, Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Be sure to click on the provided link to read other bloggers’ posts about Jimmy Stewart and his various  acting  roles.   T J Stewart Blogathon     When I saw that Classic Film and TV Cafe was going to host this blogathon, I thought for a while as to which  role of Stewart’s to write about.  I decided on  The Shootist, a  movie that came in the latter days of Stewart’s movie acting.   The Shootist, movie poster The Shootist, originally a novel written by Glendon Swarthout  and published in 1975, was sought out by Paramount Pictures and Dino De Laurentiis Company to be made into a movie.  The author’s son, Miles, and Scott Hale wrote the screenplay.  Don Siegel was tapped to direct.   The movie’s plot is about an aging gunfighter, John Bernard, J.B. Books, who learns he has  cancer.  He also learns that despite liking this new town of Carson City, Nevada to live in, he only has 2 months at the most before the cancer will kill him.  Word gets out that the famous Shootist, Books, is in Carson City and old foes and friends appear, all wanting to cash in on the fame that surrounds this dying gunman or to just get final revenge.  It is Books’ dilemma, how to die with dignity amidst the turmoil that is happening around him due to these malcontents and fortune-seekers who are looking for him in Carson City.

Who better to portray the aging gunslinger than John Wayne, the most famous of Western heroes in film?  In 1964, Wayne had surgery to remove a cancerous lung.  Now, in 1976, when The Shootist was made, it would become  an ironic fact that Wayne would act the part of the dying gunslinger,  and he himself  would also die of cancer in 1979. Wayne had to lobby for the role of J.B. Books since the producers originally wanted George C. Scott!  Wayne did get the part and then proceeded to request that former cast members of other films he had made be cast in this film.  He specifically requested James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, and John Carradine.

James Stewart, by the 1960’s, was taking on more paternalistic roles.  He had played opposite Wayne  in another great Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, released in 1962.  Although the two actors didn’t run around in the same circle of friends, they both admired each other’s abilities in conveying characters on screen and had a great respect for one another. Stewart, in The Shootist, plays Dr. Hostetler who J. B. Books makes an appointment with in order to get a second opinion about his back pains.  The clip of that scene can be viewed here.  It is a warm and friendly scene of two old aquaintances re-meeting one another again.  Then the cold, factual Medical Man emerges as Dr. Hostetler gives Books the bad news: the back pains are a symptom of cancer.  Then there is more bad news, that Books only has 2 more months to live.  The doctor tells Books that when it’s time, medicines can be given to him to help ease the pain.

Stewart’s voice is still strong in this film, not quavery as one might expect with an aged actor.  The hair is white, the movements of his body as he walks across a room or sits in a chair are slower than that of a younger man, but it doesn’t distract one iota from his role as Dr. Hostetler.

The Shootist is a great ensemble piece.  All of the cast brought their A-Game to this movie.  Lauren Bacall is Mrs. Bond Rogers, the widowed landlady who rents a room to Books.  She tells him that she doesn’t abide with guns, and yet there is a growing fondness between her and Books.   Ron Howard(former child actor, teen actor, and now movie director) plays Gillom Rogers, son of the landlady.  He looks up to Books because he is a famous gunslinger and Books becomes a mentor/father figure for Gillom.     Richard Boone is Mike Sweeney, out to kill Books in order to get revenge for a brother’s death.  Hugh O’Brien is Jack Pulford,  a gambler and keen shot who wouldn’t mind taking Books down in order to promote himself.   Sheree North is an old flame, Serepta, who shows up hoping to get Books to marry her so  later she can have a book written by a ghost writer about her life with Books and make money off of his notoriety and death.  John Carradine is Carson City’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckem and he pesters Books about having a headstone made.  Scatman Crothers is Moses Brown,  the livery worker who cares for Books’s horse.  Richard Lenz is Dan Dobkins the local newspaper reporter, wanting to write sensationalized versions of Books’s killings.  Harry Morgan is Marshall Thibido, who is anxious to have Books leave Carson City.

The Shootist is available via Amazon to either buy or view through Instant Rent.  It is also available through TCM’s Shop.  To close out my post, here are a few more shots of John Wayne and James Stewart, from The Shootist.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

Giving Books the diagnosis.

TS, arguing with Wayne

 

 

The Shootist, Wayne and Stewart