Hello Dear Readers
Old heroes never die. What makes me say that? The reason is simple, another of my favourite actors passed away this weekend. James Garner. He was one of those actors who you could trust when you watched him. He did not need to try hard in my view when he appeared. So why do I say never die? Very simple really, we can watch him time and time again.
I first saw him in the 70′s when I watched like millions of others The Rockford Files. That iconic investigator, slightly weather worn, sometimes sceptical of his clients, but always there for them. The stories were well crafted, around Garner and a small recurring cast. The role itself was basically a remake of his Maverick character, his first major role.
It was a very successful series but at a cost to Garner himself. He was in every episode and did all of his own stunts. Due to various injuries from the series Garner eventually quit even though the ratings were high. He would reprise the role later in 8 television movies in the 90′s.
Garner also starred in numerous movies including The Great Escape, which in itself has become a bit of a legend. Garner’s role was that of Flt. Lt. Robert Hendley, the “Scrounger”, one in which he draw on numerous people he had known. The film was a major success and is often shown at Christmas, Easter or just any time.
He also starred in a number of romantic comedies including a favourite of mine, The Thrill of it All as Dr. Gerald Boyer along side Doris Day. It was a very easy comedy that worked well. Basically the story involves housewife, Doris Day’s sudden rise to fame as a soap spokesperson which leads to chaos in her home life and her husband played by Garner. There are some wonderfully funny moments in the film, including Garner returning home only to find a swimming pool instead of a garage, sitting in the car as it sank and a conversation between Garner and his son Andy. The young boy answering questions on the phone with just nods and shakes to Garners questions. Brilliant.
One of Garner’s passions outside of acting was motor racing. He stared in one of the best racing films in the 60′s, Grand Prix. It also starred a number of real life formula one drivers. It won a number of oscars that year which was no surprise given the cast.
For me, James Garner was one of those actors I could just sit and watch. He was a hero in his roles, even the comedy ones. Along with the Thrill of it All, two others stand out for me, Support your local sherif and the follow up Support your local Gunfighter. Both films involve simple plots, Garner mistaken for someone else and making the best of it to good comic effect.
I do hope that the BBC will re-run a few of the Rockford files and Maverick in tribute to him. I, for one would enjoy seeing them again.
To me, old heroes never really die so long as you keep their memory alive.
Tagline: “This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I’ll get back to you. [Beep]“