By: Oberst von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Actor James Garner made his entire career out of a series of smart-mouthed cowboys in the 1950’s-60’s. On the TV series Maverick he forged the personality that he would use essentially unchanged in every role to follow. 1969 saw the release of Support your Local Sheriff, a comedy western that played gracefully with the genre conventions. The movie was Garner’s biggest film hit at the time, buoyed by an excellent script that managed to appeal to audiences of all ages, without feeling like it was playing down to adults. I’d love to have reviewed this movie in full, but alas it wasn’t on Netflix. Instead I settled for a review of the pseudo-sequel.
White People Problems #378
Support Your Local Sheriff follows Latigo Smith (James Garner), a compulsive gambler and womanizer who is confused for a famous gunfighter in the aptly named mining town of Purgatory. Not keen on impersonating the killer “Swifty Morgan”, but very keen on getting rich, he instead claims to be Swifty’s manager and enlists boozehound Jug May (Jack Elam) to take on the role. The plan goes awry however when the real Swifty Morgan (Chuck Connors) rides into town.
I originally watched this film at a very young age, and remember liking it quite a bit. The humor mostly consists of slapstick and genre parody. Older viewers will catch more jokes though, as there are bits which were clearly designed to go over the heads of younger audiences. The writing is fairly solid though, James Garner’s character in particular receiving some good sarcastic quips. Jack Elam’s role as the shabby-sidekick is also very satisfying. His uncanny knack for physical comedy never fails to satisfy.
And quite the looker too, Ladies
The film’s biggest flaw is over-familiarity. Support your Local Sheriff had a different storyline, and characters with different names, but the cast is almost identical… and the jokes as well. It was overall a better film, though this one has enough original moments to keep the audience interested. If you haven’t seen Sheriff, though, you have nothing to lose.
The plot is ostensibly taken from Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars. Not that you’d really notice, because every plot element is slapped together haphazardly and really doesn’t have any purpose other than to set up the next gag.
Overall, a great Saturday Morning diversion. But if you have a chance to see the first film, see it instead.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: when James Garner gambles
Take a Drink: whenever the name “Swifty Morgan” is used
Drink a Shot: when the girl “Patience” shoots at someone.