Monday, July 21, 2014

James Garner April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014

I heard the news Saturday morning and I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Mr. James Garner.  He lived a long life and had a pretty good career.  I enjoyed many of his films whether he was the leading man, or a supporting character.

I grew up waiting for the phone to ring, just to hear what message was left on Jim Rockford's message machine, before Mike Post's iconic theme song began.  I liked him very much in the "Rockford Files."  Rockford once said, "There are only two things I won't do for money.  I won't kill for money, and I won't marry for money.Everything else is open."  He did a number of "Rockford Files" TV Specials well into the the late 90's

I only got to see reruns of the old "Maverick" TV series, but those were fun.  I saw him in the Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster film of the same name. I enjoyed all their performances, corny as they were. One of my other favorite James Garner Western was "Support Your Local Sheriff" and the follow up, "Support Your Local Gunfighter."

He did Disney Westerns too. I remember my grandmother taking me to see "The Castaway Cowboy."  Starring James Garner, Vera Miles, and Robert Culp.  He is a cowboy washed up on one of the Hawaiian islands after a shipwreck.  He ends up helping the family that rescued him save their farm.

Garner also played the President of the United States once. "In My Fellow Americans"  along with Dan Akroyd and Jack Lemmon.  He also worked iwh Julie Andrews and Robert Preston in "Victor Victoria."  He worked with Andrews 20 years prior in "The Americanization of Emily." 

"The Great Escape" from 1963 is one of my favorite James Garner films.  It also starred Steve McQueen,and Richard Attenborough.  Of the two American leads I liked Garner the most.  His casual way of taking in the war, and his ability to scrounge for supplies made his role appealing.  His seemingly selfishness melts away as he must help Donald Pleasence, the Forger, when he is blinded during their escape attempt.  He refuses to leave him behind and he is recaptured.

The new generation knows James Garner for his work as Duke in "The Notebook." Although it Ryan Gosling plays his role as a young man, it is Garner who people remember as the older man reading to his ill wife. In 2006's "The Ultimate Gift" Garner is the grandfather Howard 'Red' Stevens who wants his grandson to learn 12 lessons about life before getting his inheritance.
On television, he helped out on "8 Simple Rules" after actor John Ritter died. 

One of my favorites, is 2006's "Space Cowboys."  This Clint Eastwood film is preposterous fun.  Although Garner is in a supporting role, he does it well and it is just plain good to see him.  

Goodbye James Garner. 
April 7, 1928 -  July 19, 2014 

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