Monday, August 17, 2015

Movies & TV: Remembering James Garner

Following up on the recent tributes to James Garner, the film and TV star who passed away last year, I would like to add a few thoughts on the popular actor.

Garner was much more than just a handsome movie star of yesteryear. He could play the hero, he could play the comic hero, he could play the cowardly hero. He could hold his own with Marlon Brando in one of his earliest movies, “Sayonara.” He could be the comic foil to Doris Day in two films.

Garner could play the cool, scavenging rogue in “The Great Escape.” He could also play sympathetic, bewildered victims in “36 Hours” and in “Mister Buddwing.”

He did some of his best work in “The Americanization of Emily” playing a cowardly naval officer and handling all that great Paddy Chayefsky dialogue. He also starred in some excellent TV movies, including "Barbarians at the Gate," "Heartsounds," and "Promise."

Garner did something few could pull off and that was moving easily between films, made for TV movies, a television series, and commercials, without diminishing his popularity or star power.

Off the screen, in what could have been a career-ending move, Garner in 1960 sued Warner Bros. for pay owed him for the show Maverick. He not only won against the studio, but also went on to become an even bigger star.

James Garner passed away in July 2014 at age 86. 


  1. I think I remember him most as Jim Rockford. I can't recall seeing any of the films you mention, but I did catch him in The Notebook a year or so ago, when my daughter made me watch it. I ought to look up some of your picks.

  2. Garner was fairly active almost till the end. He appeared in some recent films and television dramas like "8 Simple Rules" though I didn't realise it was him when I saw the first few episodes. I thought he was good as Wyatt Earp in "Hour of the Gun."

    1. HOUR OF THE GUN is a good film. I wish Garner could have done a western with Clint Eastwood.

  3. Some very nice thoughts on James Garner. I loved him as Rockford and my favorite movie that he was in is The Great Escape. I want to see The Americanization of Emily.