SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (director: Burt Kennedy; screenwriter: James Edward Grant; cinematographer: Harry Stradling Jr; editor: William B. Gulick; music: Jack Elliott/Allyn Ferguson; cast: James Garner (Latigo Smith), Suzanne Pleshette (Patience Barton), Jack Elam (Jug May), Joan Blondell (Jenny), Harry Morgan (Taylor Barton), Marie Windsor (Goldie), John Dehner (Col. Ames), Kathleen Freeman (Mrs. Perkins), Dub Taylor (Doc Schultz), Chuck Connors (‘Swifty’ Morgan) Ben Cooper (Colorado), Ellen Corby (Abigail Ames); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: G; producer: William Finnegan; MGM; 1971)
“This genial Western comedy is a disappointing successor, not a sequel, to Support Your Local Sheriff.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This genial Western comedy is a disappointing successor, not a sequel, to Support Your Local Sheriff. It has the same comedy tone, director (Burt Kennedy), and star (James Garner), but with new writer James Edward Grant it goes nowhere. The comedy never arrives and the script descends into meaningless dribble, wasting a talented cast. It relies too heavily on character actors such as Jack Elam, Harry Morgan, and Dub Taylor, who just don’t cut it to carry this lame screenplay. Garner’s laid-back charm helps make it not a total disaster, as the film plays style-wise like one of his television Maverick bits.
New York City con man Latigo Smith (James Garner) is heading by train to Denver to marry the overbearing dance hall girl Goldie (Marie Windsor). When he sneaks off at a mining town called Purgatory he’s mistaken by beleaguered mining owner Taylor Barton (Harry Morgan) for the notorious gunslinger Swifty Morgan, who was hired by rival mining owner Colonel Ames to stop him from operating the mine. Smith immediately teams up with the bumbling village idiot Jug May (Jack Elam), and loses all his money with one spin of the wheel at roulette (this gambling addiction is played as a running gag, as he will again collect a huge sum of money and lose it at the wheel and will try to make the third time a charm). Stuck in town to remove his chest tattoo of Goldie, he’s hired by Barton for $5,000 to double-cross Ames and open the mine. Smith schemes to have his dumb partner pose as Swifty for $400, while he acts as his business manager. While hanging around town Smith manages to sponge money off gullible saloon whore Jenny (Joan Blondell) and then romance Barton’s tomboyish daughter Patience (Suzanne Pleshette), who dreams of attending a Ladies Finishing School in upstate New York. It concludes when the real gunslinger Swifty, played with a stern face by Chuck Connors, shows up to face his impersonator and Smith has to figure a way to outsmart the faster draw.
REVIEWED ON 8/18/2005 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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