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A Good Friend Says Goodbye,
This review is from: The Rockford Files: Season Six (DVD)
If ever a star had that certain something which put him in the same category as those shining ones from the 1930's and 1940's, it was James Garner. He had a fine film career, to be sure, but it was his laconic charm as Jim Rockford on television with which he will always be most identified. He was an ex-con given a full pardon when it was discovered he was innocent after all. Working as a P.I. and parking his gold Firebird in front of his trailor on the L.A. beach, Rockford could never quite shake the ex-con tag, nor could he shake his old cellmate, Evelyn "Angel" Martin.
Stuart Margolin was Angel, always looking for the easy buck, and getting his old buddy Jimmy into trouble with him. Neither Rockford or the viewing audience could stay mad at Angel for long, however, because in Margolin's hands, Angel was really a stand-up guy at heart and you had to admire his enthusiasm. Noah Beery, Jr. portrayed Rockford's lovable dad, Rocky, with equal aplomb.
Rocky was an easygoing retired trucker who loved to fish, and passed on the hobby to Jim. Between the car chases, cons, and mad scrambles to stay out of jail were simple moments of life we all recognized from our own. It was that down to earth formula, coupled with Garner's charm and some excellent writing from Juanita Bartlett which kept Jim Rockford coming into our homes week after week for years. Rockford would only work on closed cases in an effort to avoid the cops which, of course, never quite worked out.
Joe Santos was Rockford's often exasperated police pal, Dennis Becker. He was the buffer between Rockford and Becker's superiors, who in season 6 was James Luisi as Lt. Chapman. He hated Rockford and wanted any excuse to pull his P.I. license. Becker was a pal, but could only do so much for Jim as he had to stay out of hot water himself. He had a wife and kids to support, and for some strange reason, that sometimes took priority over helping his old buddy Jim out of a complicated jam. Beth was gone by this season, but Rita Moreno lit up the small screen as Rita Capkovic.
Season 6 only had 12 episodes, but some really fine ones, and some terrific guest stars. Rockford got to go to Hawaii in one installment. In a way, looking back, as someone has already mentioned, it was sort of the changing of the guard type of season. Tom Selleck would reprise his role of Lance White, the detective so perfect it drove Rockford nuts! Larry Manetti would guest star on an episode as well. They would make Magnum P.I. a television staple the following year, and by the end of its long run, Joe Santos would star on that classic also.
Season 6 episodes are: PARADISE COVE (MARIETTE HARTLEY) -- LIONS,TIGERS, MONKEYS AND DOGS (LAUREN BACALL--2 PARTER) -- ONLY ROCK AND ROLL WILL NEVER DIE (MARCIA STRASSMAN--2 PARTER) -- LOVE IS THE WORD -- NICE GUYS FINISH DEAD (TOM SELLECK) -- THE HAWAIIN HEADACHE -- THE NO-FAULT AFFAIR -- THE BIG CHEESE -- JUST A COUPLE OF GUYS -- DEADLOCK IN PARMA
It was only from December of 1979 through January of 1980 that we got to enjoy Mike Post's Rockford Files theme song, which only began after we'd heard one of those crazy messages on Jim's answering machine. It had only been a couple of years since Garner had finally gotten his Emmy Award for his fine portrayal of the affable Rockford. There is comfort food, and comfort television, and Rockford certainly falls into that category. A really fine television show worthy of its fan base.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 19, 2009 10:01:07 AM PST
Mad Mau says:
Nice review, I agree wholeheartedly. The Rockford Files is one of my top 5 all-time favorite T.V. Series.
The one thing that puzzles me (and you're not the first I've seen describe Rockford this way), is the term "laconic charm" to describe Garner as Rockford. I couldn't disagree more. Rockford could sell an air conditioner to an Eskimo. That's the beauty of the character. He's a P.I., but deep down a Confidence Man at heart. He uses the con artist in him to extract information as he goes about solving his cases. Rockford was shrewd, cunning and sly, like a fox, but I'd hardly call him a man of few words.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2009 4:58:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2009 4:59:46 PM PST
Yeah, Rockford could pull a con with the best of them in that show. But what I said was that Garner brought his laconic charm to the part, which I think he did. You could really see it in the slice of life moments rather than once he was involved in the case, or con to solve the case. And he always seemed to do those things out of reluctance, and would much rather have been fishing off the pier with Rocky. There was a lot of action and some five star cons and swindles though. I think sometimes people who mention that aspect mean Garner and what he brought to the role, moreso than Rockford as a character. One of the great tv shows, like you say.
Posted on Mar 5, 2009 9:04:52 PM PST
Harry Brewer says:
Very nice review.
James Garner was certainly one of America's greatest actors & probably the most underrated.
Not sure how old you are; Rockford will be the role that younger viewers will remember most (I'm 55 so take "younger" as you will) but I will always remember him most as Maverick from the late fifties & early sixties. Essentially, it's the same role; even Roy Huggins himself (creator of Maverick & co-creator of Rockford with Cannell) told Cannell that he (Cannell) had created an updated Maverick.
It's easy to tell that you liked the show, Rockford Files, considerably. I certainly did. But from the very beginning I saw the similarity between the two characters. Garner is a versatile actor, able to do comedy, drama & western with equal aplomb.
His portrayals almost always contained his certain ease & warmth. The exception being the film A Man Called Sledge in which he played a thoroughly despicable Western outlaw. I usually enjoy a film when an actor is cast against type but that film was a complete atrocity; not his fault, but it's hard to believe he got roped into it.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2009 9:58:53 PM PST
Thanks. I'm in my 40's but really came at Garner backwards, liking him as Rockford, then seeing how great he'd been in films. He sparkled in films like The Americanization of Emily. His smaller role in Twilight with Paul Neman is terrific as well. You could buy Garner, perhaps, as a guy who'd done something wrong, or made a mistake, but not as an out and out bad guy. Garner's just a terrific actor, and one of the last of the good guys in Hollywood.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2009 8:00:02 AM PDT
For proof of James Garners charisma and acting skills I would reccomend the Mel Gibson Maverick movie the film only realy comes to life when Garner comes into the story and in doing so acts Gibson off the screen. A genuine hollywood star who never made into the "Mega" class which is probably good for us as we have 6 seasons of the Rockford Files and hopefully one day Maverick on DVD
Posted on Oct 16, 2009 9:24:04 AM PDT
Nice review. I have been watching the entire run of the Rockford Files since April and have loved every minute of it. I am just about to finish Season 5 and will be ordering Season 6 today. While I often watched the show in the 70's, I had not seen a single episode since it's original run so for me, it's as if I am watching them for the very first time. I think what really took me by surprise is that James Garner had me hooked from the very first episode. His charming character never really evolved that much. It was there from the very beginning and not many actors can pull that off. I'm really going to be dissapointed upon completing Season 6. Watching the show is something that I really enjoy and seeing it come to an end isn't something I am looking forward to. By the way, I am a 70's cop show junkie. Does anyone out there know of another program I might like?
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2009 8:38:09 PM PDT
You're right about Garner. He had so much charisma, but almost came along too late in the Hollywood cycle, when movies were already dropping off in quality from the 1930's and 1940's, though he sparkled in films like The Americanization of Emily. Through Rockford, he became a bigger star than he ever could have been after Hollywood changed. A terrific actor.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2009 8:45:51 PM PDT
Thanks. Yeah, what a great series. One of the finest ever. Garner was deceptively spectacular. I still can't believe Harry O, with David Janssen isn't available. Another good one! All those Quinn Martin productions were fun to watch, like Cannon and Barnaby Jones. Another cool one unavailable, but 80's perhaps, is Vegas with Robert Urich as Dan Tanna. Great show! All the stuff that gets released and shows like these are still waiting. Outside of detective shows like these, I'm also baffled that the drama, China Beach, with Dana Delaney has not found a release.
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2011 10:29:19 PM PDT
Shawn S. says:
SWAT, Columbo, Adam 12, Policewoman, Mccloud, McMillan and Wife, Baretta, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, The Rookies, Streets of San Francisco, The Mod Squad, Dragnet 1967-----, Hart to Hart, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Banacek, Ironside.....just to name a few. One I'm still waiting for is Police Story, that one is my all time fav with Mccloud and Columbo. Sorry for late reply.
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2011 10:43:16 PM PDT
Shout! Factory will soon be releasing "Police Story!"