For this western genre spoof we are treated to a cast of actors who spin the traditional cowboy picture around and give it a good cowboy boot kick in the a__.
Starring an actor whom I have enjoyed in practically everything he has ever appeared in we get James Garner playing the lead role of a somewhat lazy sharpshooter who drifts in to a once sleepy town that has seen a gold rush boom kick it broadside. This has led to a criminal element turning up the town elders would like to see put in check or behind bars if possible. I might add that’s hard to do when the new jail hasn’t had the bars installed yet. Not to worry as newly hired sheriff Garner has a perfect fix for that. Look no further than how he handles beared Bruce Dern after arresting him for murder.
With Garner and his personally chosen deputy Jack Elam now handling the rowdies in town, things are calming down keeping Mayor Harry Morgan and the town council contented. That is until we get ornery Walter Brennan showing up with his son Gene Evans in tow. Brennan isn’t particularly happy about his other son Bruce Dern being locked up. More so when he sees there isn’t even any bars holding him in place!
Played strictly for laughs from western specialist Burt Kennedy this is an extremely enjoyable romp with a wonderful who’s who of western familiars poking fun at themselves. Anytime one can see Walter Brennan and Jack Elam share a scene together is time well spent. Showing up as Garner’s love interest is Joan Hackett who has everything going wrong anytime the new sheriff in town looks her way.
Director Kennedy has taken a bit of My Darling Clementine and mixed it with a bit of Rio Bravo here bringing us a winning picture. Kennedy is basically known for his contributions to the western genre directing films like The War Wagon and Hannie Caulder as well. For a fun read check out his book Hollywood Trail Boss.
As for our leading man James Garner, he’s just as natural as they come. He has a quality that makes him so likable. Both in television and movies. There would be a sequel of sorts to this film titled Support Your Local Gunfighter in 1971.
Joining in the fun with Brennan, Elam and company we also get Kathleen Freeman who is another of those character faces that turns up in so many films. I love the fact that she acted for so many years tormenting both Jerry Lewis and the Blues Brothers not to mention Leslie Nielsen once he became a comedian.
Check this one out if you already haven’t and enjoy Mr. Garner teamed with Burt Kennedy’s stock company.