A laidback, friendly and funny western spoof – and the same adjectives could be used to describe its star. James Garner plays a man who comes to a small gold mining town on his way to Australia, becomes its sheriff and challenges a family of criminals. Director Burt Kennedy and writer William Bowers have done a fair share of straight westerns. They know all the old clichés and how to turn them into jokes; saloon brawls, hired killers and what not are made fun of here in a traditional but effective way. Garner is cool and easy-going in a part that reminds one of Maverick; Jack Elam and Walter Brennan also send up the parts they played in the westerns of yesteryear.
1969-U.S. 93 min. Color. Produced by William Bowers. Directed by Burt Kennedy. Screenplay: William Bowers. Cast: James Garner (Jason MacCullough), Joan Hackett (Prudy Perkins), Walter Brennan (Ira Danby), Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, Bruce Dern.
Trivia: The director reunited with Garner, Elam and Morgan for Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), but it’s not an official sequel.
Quote: “Joe, you just make me feel tired all over when you talk like that. It’s bad enough to have to kill a man without having to listen to a whole lot of stupid talk from him first.” (Garner to Dern)
Last word: “Western comedies are really a tightrope. I try to make the western part of it as real as I can, but I made a picture called ‘Dirty Dingus Magee’, with Frank Sinatra and George Kennedy, and it didn’t work because everyone was crazy. You’ve got to have one person in the picture who’s completely straight – like Jim Garner in ‘Support Your Local Sheriff!’. He didn’t think he was funny at all. I ran it for him the first time and he said ‘Burt, I’m really disappointed in this,’ and I said, ‘Jim, this is the best picture you’ve ever been in or probably ever will be in.’ Everybody was crazy but him, and that’s the reason it worked.” (Kennedy, interview by Jeremy Arnold)