“When you set out to clean up a mess, you don’t just sit around and wait for that mess to get bigger and bigger!”
The fast-shooting new sheriff (James Garner) of a booming western town faces the wrath of local patriarch Pa Danby (Walter Brennan) when he jails one of Danby’s errant sons (Bruce Dern).
This light-hearted western spoof received less-than-stellar reviews upon its release, but remains an innocuous favorite of many, thanks in large part to James Garner’s winning performance in the title role. As a humble marksman — likely the fastest gun in the west — who is perpetually “on his way to Australia” (which he considers to be the “real frontier”), Garner is coolly unfazed by the chaos and violence surrounding him, including the town’s infamous baddy, Joe Danby (nicely played by the reliably psychotic Dern). In one of the film’s most humorous subplots, Garner manages not only to keep Danby in an unfinished prison by using simple psychological intimidation, but to get him to install the bars himself! Some aspects of William Bowers’ screenplay are less successful than others: I’m unimpressed, for instance, by Joan Hackett’s character — the hot-headed daughter of Mayor Olly Perkins (Harry Morgan) — and her ongoing would-be romantic encounters with Garner; she comes across as needlessly shrill. Yet there are enough genuinely corny laughs and fine performances to carry Support Your Local Sheriff through till its inevitable final shoot-out, and to recommend it for at least one-time viewing.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- James Garner as Sheriff McCullough
- Jack Elam as McCullough’s deputy
- Bruce Dern as Joe Danby
- William Bowers’ often humorous screenplay
No, but it’s recommended.