Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)
James Garner returns for this follow up in name only to the 1969 hit Support Your Local Sheriff.
Many of the cast members are reunited from the previous Burt Kennedy film. Faces that include Harry Morgan, Henry Jones, Gene Evans and Kathleen Freeman. Most importantly we get Jack Elam back once again as Garner’s sidekick.
While fleeing from a marriage to Marie Windsor, Garner jumps off a train and lands in the town of Purgatory. He’s immediately mistaken for an incoming gunfighter named Swifty Morgan. Once Garner catches on to the goings on between two mining companies his conman character figures on making a buck. With his new pal Jack Elam in tow the first mark is Joan Blondell who operates the local saloon.
It seems that Harry Morgan is at war with John Dehner. Each is tunneling towards a mother lode of ore. Morgan’s daughter Suzanne Pleshette quickly becomes smitten by our leading man after learning he’s not the gunslinger everyone thought him to be.
Garner goes one better. He passes off Jack Elam as the eagle eye sharp shooter! He even barters a deal for themselves, “Thousand dollars. We’ll split it fifty-fifty. That means FOUR HUNDRED for you.” Harry Morgan is quick to point out, “He’s got a keen eye.” This gives ole’ Jack a chance to have fun and parody his screen persona. He loves his new found threatening image. Trouble is he’s about as slow on the draw as one can imagine.
Thanks to nasty John Dehner, the real Swifty Morgan is on his way to town and intends to kill the man whose using his identity. Morgan is played by “unbilled” Chuck Connors. He plays the role without so much as cracking a smile. Garner is ready to flee town but Elam is complicating his retreat.
Though not as all around funny as the earlier film, director Kennedy has such a large cast that there’s some fun to be had during the films 90 minute running time. Anytime one can see Harry Morgan bickering with Kathleen Freeman at the top of their voices is worth a look. Other well known actors of the day turning up are Ellen Corby, Willis Bouchey, Ben Cooper and western genre favorite Dub Taylor.
As much as I like James Garner it’s Jack Elam that has the scene stealing role this time out and the two of them together dominate the film’s highlights. Jack even gets the films closing line and it can’t help but put a smile on one’s face.