Movies watched: Support Your Local Sheriff, Support Your Local Gunfighter
Where watched: Home
Time: 92 minutes, 91 minutes
Total elapsed time: 15 hours, 59 minutes
When I saw that Twilight Time was releasing these two titles on one blu-ray, I was pretty excited. These two Western parodies were mainstays of my youth, shown frequently on television. I hadn’t seen them in many years. I wondered how they would hold up.
Of course any conversation about western parodies begins and ends with Blazing Saddles, and rightly so. There have been other good western comedies, such as Bob Hope’s The Paleface. Then there is The Apple Dumpling Gang, which seemed very funny when I was little, but doesn’t really work.
The first thing I noticed about Support Your Local Sheriff on blu-ray is how great it looks. The transfer is absolutely superb, and I was blown away by the detail. Director Burt Kennedy was essentially a B-movie western director, but he had a good reputation for making movies on a small budget that usually turned a profit. This movie stars James Garner as a man who is just passing through a mining town, on his way to Australia of all places. There is plenty of broad physical comedy, which just seems corny today. But Garner makes the movie watchable, with every glance, every line of dialogue just right.
Garner befriends the town mayor,played by Harry Morgan, and he eventually falls for the mayor’s daughter Prudy, played by the charming and short-lived Joan Hackett. Garner defends the town from the Danbys, the local cattle baron family that makes life hard on its citizens. Walter Brennan plays the leader of the Danby clan, and a young Bruce Dern plays his young, dim-witted son.
Despite some of the jokes falling flat today, the movie does hold up, primarily because the performances are all quite good, especially those of Garner and the unforgettable Jack Elam, who steals every scene he is in.
The movie was so successful that a follow-up was made just a couple of years later, titled Support Your Local Gunfighter. It is not a sequel, but does feature many of the same actors, playing different characters. It was also directed by Burt Kennedy, and also stars Garner, Elam and Morgan. Morgan’s daughter in this movie is played by Suzanne Pleshette. This movie involves to feuding mining families, and has a similar comedic tone to the earlier film.
Unlike the first movie, in which Garner was an accomplished gunman, in this one he eschews gunfighting, using his wits to get out of some sticky situations. This movie is not as strong as the original, but is definitely a suitable companion piece. Jack Elam is just as funny in this one as he was in the earlier film. If you are a fan of James Garner, or Western comedies, they make a good double feature. Twilight Time has done a great job once again with this blu-ray release.
In both of these movies, Jack Elam breaks the fourth wall at the end, giving the audience a closing narration, describing what happened to the characters. It is nice to see Elam close out the movies, and have his starring moment.