MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

The Great & Glorious James Garner


Be Sociable, Share!

21 Responses to “The Great & Glorious James Garner”

  1. MarkVH says:

    Garner was a man. Respect.

  2. Eric says:

    The first movie I remember seeing with Garner was Mel Gibson’s “Maverick.” What a presence.

  3. YancySkancy says:

    Thank God Garner’s legacy isn’t based on (or tarnished by) the horrible MAVERICK movie. He was one of those actors who, like Cary Grant, could play light or dark without seeming to break a sweat. His low-key charm made him a natural for episodic television, but he could deliver on the big screen as well. While I wish he’d worked with more great directors, it’s hard to complain about his career highlights. Netflix is streaming every episode of THE ROCKFORD FILES, which is a pretty good place to get an idea of his appeal.

  4. Ray Pride says:

    Uber-cool American male, actor, unapologetic liberal activist. Showed you didn’t have to be a bruiser just to be a solid guy. Watched a couple episodes of first season “Rockford Files” the other night and it was all wry and weirdly almost surrealistic.

  5. Ray Pride says:

    Garner doesn’t mumble, but sometimes he’s doing so much less than nothing that it’s fixating, YK.

  6. Sam says:

    My first exposure to James Garner was Support Your Local Sheriff, a gem of a comedy that, looking back, I don’t think would have worked with any other actor in the role. He probably made a better foil for Doris Day than Rock Hudson did, too, though the latter pairing was more famous.

    I like him in virtually everything I’ve seen him in, even if I’ve not liked the movie overall. But more often than not, his presence alone turned bad movie right around and make it enjoyable. I liked, for instance, My Fellow Americans, but surely without Garner and the equally movie-redeeming Jack Lemmon, it’s not a good movie anymore.

    Yancy, don’t know what you’re on about: I adored the movie version of Maverick, and I thought casting James Garner in a major part (as opposed to just an honorary cameo) was an ingenious move that absolutely worked.

    It’s impressive that his film work alone is enough to demonstrate and celebrate his unique charisma and charm, and yet it’s his work in television that he’s better known for.

  7. Roy Atkinson says:

    If you want to know more about the man, read “The Garner Files” by James Garner and Jon Winokur. It even has a section where Garner comments on his individual films.
    He gives “Mister Buddwing” (1966) a zero rating.
    “I’d summarize the plot, but to this day I have no clue what it is. Worst picture I’ve ever made. What were they thinking? What was I thinking?”
    Garner,of course,has a higher opinion of,for example,”The Americanization of Emily” and “The Notebook”.

  8. berg says:

    Garner may have given Buddwing a zero but it’s a pretty interesting film … an amnesiac wanders around NYC and meets beautiful woman after beautiful woman until he solves his identity crisis

  9. Breedlove says:

    Yeah I always liked the movie version of Maverick…charming, fun…

  10. Hcat says:

    Americanization of Emily is an absolute masterpiece, and perfect turns in Victor Victoria, Murphy’s romance, and I even loved him in his supporting role in Benton’s twilight. I’m surprised he wasn’t an even bigger star, wry charm and he has to have of the top ten most handsome mugs to grace the screen.

    Just the way he delivered a drink order in barbarians at the gate “I’ll have a scotch and soda, no ice, no soda”. Pure gold

  11. SamLowry says:

    I preferred SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (and bought a brand-new VHS of it back in the day after watching it on the local station so many times in the ’70s), and yes, he was the only reason I saw “Barbarians”; he was highly quotable in that one, and it’s too bad the IMBD quote page doesn’t even list the one about needing an extra set of lungs so you can draw on their new cigarette.

    Of course I watched “Rockford” as a kid–who didn’t back in the 70s?

  12. Mariamu says:

    One of the great ones.

  13. leahnz says:

    Aw, RIP James Garner, another legend off to the astral plane. (i bet a whole generation may only know him from ‘the notebook’, and he kills in that, so touching and beautiful with rowlands – i can’t help but think of their final scene thinking of his passing now) peace be the journey Jim Rockford of my childhood, you rocked <3

  14. movieman says:

    Even in a throwaway like 1972’s “They Only Kill Their Masters” Garner made his breezy trademark effortlessness seem like the hippest game in town.

    Speaking of “Masters,” Garner’s cop role feels an awful lot like a future “Rockford” template.

  15. Jack1137 says:

    This is Jim Rockford at the tone leave your name and message I’ll get back to you. Goodbye Jimmy.

  16. YancySkancy says:

    Sam, maybe I expected too much, but I thought the MAVERICK movie was a real misfire, mainly because I didn’t think it was funny. But I certainly didn’t mean to imply that Garner was bad in it. He was never bad. He came close in MISTER BUDDWING, which is indeed a “pretty interesting” film, as brack said. Unfortunately, it’s also a mess, one of those painful Hollywood attempts to be all existential and “with it” in awkward emulation of the international art films of the time. Garner’s role must have seemed like a tour de force on paper: In flashbacks, he’s both a seemingly smart, sensitive composer and a bit of a dick; in the framing story, he’s simpering, confused, and kinda dimwitted in ways that transcend amnesia. Good as Garner was, he couldn’t make it work. I’d still say it’s worth a look for some neat photography and the presence of Jean Simmons and Suzanne Pleshette. Oh, and Lt. Uhura shoots craps in a evening dress.

    Regardless of what Garner thought, I really like SUNSET. It’s a genre jumble, with elements of the Western, comedy, mystery, film noir, and show biz biopics, with a moment in the climax that wouldn’t be out of place in a slasher movie. But the mixture of the comic and the sordid is not untypical of Blake Edwards (who won a Worst Director Razzie for this), and it makes for an interesting movie. And of course Garner is just great as Wyatt Earp.

  17. James Parker says:

    Garner may have given Buddwing a zero but it’s a pretty interesting film … an amnesiac wanders around NYC and meets beautiful woman after beautiful woman until he solves his identity crisis
    Realy gooood one.

  18. scooterzz says:

    i’ve always found it interesting that donner originally offered the ‘zane cooper’ role in ‘maverick’ to paul newman (who apparently accepted)… it was only when newman dropped out that the role was offered to garner…. seems odd to me that garner would be kind of an afterthought when it should have been a no-brainer (imo)….

  19. cadavra says:

    I believe Garner’s problem was not with SUNSET itself but with Bruce Willis, who was in his initial phase of stardom and behaving like a first-class asshole.

    And yes, both SUPPORT films are absolute little gems.

  20. Jermsguy says:

    I liked the Maverick movie.

    Even when the material wasn’t great, Garner was reliable. His voicework’s great in the otherwise forgettable Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

    Loved him in Victor Victoria.

    I didn’t realize he played Wyatt Earp twice. Though Sunset probably doesn’t count.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon