Armed with a wry sense of humor and a straight-shooting sidearm, James Garner (Maverick, My Fellow Americans) fights for peace, justice and fun in this outrageous, irreverent and "very funny" (Los Angeles Times) farce co-starring Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan and Jack Elam. Support Your Local Sheriff is "sheer entertainment from start to finish" (Boxoffice)! On his way to Australia, frontier opportunist Jason McCullough (Garner) stumbles into a small gold-rush town and decides to earn a little extra pocket money by accepting a temporary assignment as its sheriff. Happily applying himself to his new position, McCullough manages to turn the town derelict (Elam) into his deputy, outsmart the dreaded Danby clan (led by Brennan in a hilarious comic performance), and fend off the lusty advances of the mayor's daughter (Hackett) all without breaking a sweat or dirtying his shiny black boots!
While hardly the first Western spoof to ride out of Hollywood, Support Your Local Sheriff
is easily one of the best. James Garner plays the confident, cool-headed cowboy who strolls into a wild gold rush town on the way to Australia and takes the job as sheriff. Like a parody of My Darling Clementine
by way of Rio Bravo
, he arrests the hotheaded but hopelessly confused son (Bruce Dern) of a ruthless ranching magnate (Walter Brennan). Stuck with a half-built jail (where he keeps his prisoner penned up with pure psychology and a few spatters of red paint), a rummy sidekick (google-eyed Jack Elam in one of his first comic turns), and a disaster-prone tomboy (Joan Hackett), he takes on a succession of gunfighters with increasing exasperation. "Sure is a childish way for a grown man to make a living," he laments before chasing one gunman out of Dodge by pelting him with rocks. Directed with laconic ease by veteran Western director Burt Kennedy, it's a clever spoof of familiar conventions in a lighthearted vein, more understated and affectionate than Mel Brooks's outrageous farce Blazing Saddles
. It inspired a slew of imitators, including a decade of silly Disney Westerns that sank the genre in slapstick shenanigans, and was followed in 1971 by Kennedy's pseudosequel Support Your Local Gunfighter
, which reteamed Garner and Elam in a more mercenary story of con artists and gunslingers. --Sean Axmaker