Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) Poster

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James Garner shines in highly agreeable western spoof
rmears128 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Here is a funny, good-natured parody of classic westerns, starring James Garner in the role he was born to play - the reluctant hero, tackling crises with his wits, not his fists. You don't have to be familiar with western clichés to enjoy this film, but those who are in on the jokes will find it especially rewarding. Of course, Mel Brooks' similar 'Blazing Saddles' is better remembered today, but I feel that 'Support Your Local Sheriff!' is the more successful film. It achieves its results through the writers' ingenuity and the actors' flawless timing and delivery, as opposed to the riotous, hit-or-miss gags of Brooks' film.

Garner plays a drifter who is gradually making his way to Australia, for no discernable reason. He arrives in an unruly western town that's been through three sheriffs in the past two months and is now in desperate need of another. The town council is not choosy, and he is hired almost sight unseen. Then he sees the jail - real nice, but no bars for the cells. He picks the most incompetent man in earshot (Jack Elam) for his deputy, and sets about cleaning up the town. Garner is adept at all the usual gun tricks and is in fact an expert marksman, but he prefers to talk his way out of tight situations, always getting the better of his intellectually-challenged opponents.

The real trouble begins when he arrests a whiny ruffian (Bruce Dern) for murder, and books him in one of the cells without bars. In the true western fashion, his crotchety pop (Walter Brennan) and all his brothers ride into town to engineer a jailbreak. What happens next would be criminal to reveal here, except to say that it consists of one comic gem after another.

Each line is written and delivered to perfection by a cast that seems to have been formed from a convention of old character actors. Brennan is hilarious sending up his Old Man Clanton role from "My Darling Clementine." His very presence in any western gives it a feel of authenticity, but here he proves to be a good sport in spoofing one of his definitive parts. Elam, Dern, and Harry Morgan contribute priceless support, and Joan Hackett is effective as Garner's most unorthodox love interest. All this would be for naught, however, without Garner in the central role. It calls for a very specific type of actor: quick-witted, sarcastic, astute, overly accommodating, and not especially tough. This is a tailor-made role for Garner, and he fills it in such a way that any other casting would be inconceivable. Thanks to him, the other performers, and the droll, clever screenplay, the film hits all the right notes for a pleasant and genial western comedy.
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This is a scream!
estabansmythe7 June 2004
This is yet another of those "they don't make 'em like this anymore" gems.

And, this western is a comic gem. Okay, it's a scream!

The whole cast is perfect, playing perfectly to a wonderful script. While all the action circles around the perfectly cast James Garner, who is light and amusing. Although he is funny, he's still the straight man to to all the town loonies.

Bruce Dern and Jack Elam are over the top hilarious as a dimwitted bad guy and dimwitted "town character" respectively. Harry Morgan is as funny as he's ever been, which is saying a lot considering his role in What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? Walter Brennan is typically excellent in one of his later roles as the typically grump head of the bad guy's clan. Even the lesser roles, such as Kathleen Freeman as a passerby, are delightful in her 2-minute scene.

The late Joan Hackett is the mayor's daughter, the madcap, eccentric Prudy. plays comedy really well. She gets lovelier every time I see this. She's as beautiful as she is funny in this and she's a riot. She left us way too soon.

I wish one of our revival houses would run this coupled with The Cheyanne Social Club, another delightfully comic western from that great era in films. That would be one entertaining night at the movies!
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Just Plain Fun!
jeichenberger15 March 2005
Now, I will even watch James Garner in a bad movie. That whole worldly wise, yet winsome thing he has going makes you think of that best bud you had in junior high.

But this is actually a very good, drown yourself in a bag of popcorn, and laugh your cares away film.

Is it a western parody or humorous homage to some of the great character actors in American western? It certainly doesn't have a mean bone in its body and doesn't rely on shock humor to get you chuckling. This film respects its predecessors and has good clean fun with them.

It's a DVD you can easily find for under $10, and well worth it.
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A Movie For Classic Films Buffs To Check Out
ccthemovieman-120 August 2006
This was a very entertaining movie, far better than the similar "Support Your Local Gunfighter," although the two seem to be companion pieces.

This film sure didn't start out with a bang. I was really disappointed after the first 20 minutes and wondered why this movie had so many good reviews. However, once it picks up, it's excellent.

There are tons of character actors from this late '60s era, all of whom are fun to watch, guys like Jack Elam and Harry Morgan and much more. James Garner is excellent as the cock-sure Maverick-type sheriff. The bad guys, led by veteran Walter Brennan and Bruce Dern provide, I think, the best humor in the film.

As the film goes on, classic film buffs will enjoy all the parodies of past westerns such as Rio Bravo and High Noon. Yup, this turned out to be a real jewel, especially for classic movie fans.
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Excellent Western Parody
SMK-47 January 1999
This is a classic example of a genre parody. It's not one of those jokes-coming-at-100mph kind of spoofs (such as Blazing Saddles), it simply plays everything by genre rules. It shares this with the 1939 version of Destry Rides Again, but it goes much further in exhibiting the hilarious potential of the genre by just slightly exaggerating the kind of improbable situations classic Westerns so often throw at us.

To appreciate this film properly you need to be familiar with the classic Western genre, mostly to understand how the genre works when played straight but you may also recognise some movie references.

The cast is absolutely marvellous, James Garner is a commanding lead, Jack Elam has never been better, and there are first-rate character actors for all the supporting roles. Especially Harry Morgan and Walter Brennan are excellent in roles very similar to ones they played straight in High Noon and My Darling Clementine, respectively.
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A Great "Movie Night" Film for All Audiences
PulpVideo23 January 2004
This is a great film to have in your collection and to pull out when you have guests with varied tastes. Fantastic screenplay, staging, pacing and, most of all, incredible acting, all come together to make this a nearly perfect film. Someone says, "I don't like Westerns," you tell them this is a western "spoof" and really more of a brain-over-brawn and romance than a western in the classical sense. Another says, "I'm getting tired of romantic-comedies," you tell them that it's not the main storyline, and the romance is just another part of the spoof. There are some well-staged and funny action scenes and lots of witty dialogue. Whatever a person likes, it is in here; and whatever a person may not like, there is not so much of it in here to dominate the movie, and so much else to enjoy. Get this one in your video library as soon as possible...
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a work of pure comic genius
NativeTexan26 September 2003
Every actor perfectly cast, every line perfectly inflected, this was a work of pure comic genius that draws on all the stock cast of characters found in western novels and movies from the dawn of the genre. Great fun.
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A comedy masterpiece
cableaddict7 June 2004
This film really should be in the IMDB top 50. Alas, just as with the Oscars, comedies never get the same respect as other genres.

It also seems that comedies more quickly feel dated. Not this one, however. Although it obviously doesn't have today's special effects, and quick-edit

sensibilities, it still feels almost as if it could be a modern flick.

It is as perfect as a comedy can be. Never a dull moment or lagging scene.

Excellent screenplay with lots of quick jabs. An absolutely perfect cast.

If you're reading this because you actually haven't seen this flick yet, and you like easy-to-digest comedies, you can't miss with this one. Ten stars.
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1969: The last great year for westerns
Sloke19 August 2001
There hasn't been a decade since 1969 as loaded with classic Westerns as was that one year: "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid," "The Wild Bunch," "True Grit," "Once Upon A Time In The West," and this one, the least appreciated but easiest to watch.

James Garner is such a comfortable onscreen presence, it's hard to appreciate all the fine work he does in this film. It's a clever comedy that is perhaps a bit too anxious to please, but can make you laugh all the same. The supporting actors are tremendous, too. It's funny to see Dern play such a naif, but Brennan has the best time of it. His expression when Garner sticks his finger in the barrel of Brennan's pistol is priceless.

No scorpion fights, no blown-up trains, no Italian dubbing or even Strother Martin. But I can't think of a better family movie, or just something to beat the blues.
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Absolutely first rate family fun
Norman Short28 March 2001
One of my favorite western comedies; there isn't a false note in the whole film. No matter how many times I've seen it, I always laugh out loud throughout the film. The cast is simply wonderful: James Garner is playing tongue in cheek as the naive yet witty Sheriff, and Walter Brennan, Bruce Dern and Jack Elam are simply marvelous. Add in the physical comedy of Joan Hackett and it's just a wonderful film. My highest recommendation.
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Local Law Enforcement On Its Own
bkoganbing28 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The late sixties and early seventies were an extraordinary period for the comic western. Although not all western comedies were directed by Burt Kennedy, some of the best of them were. Kennedy worked with some of the best if slightly aged Hollywood leading men who looked right at home on a western set.

In James Garner, Kennedy found his perfect leading man. Although Garner had done some really serious westerns like Duel at Diablo, Hour of the Gun and A Man Called Sledge, he was really at his best in comedy. The man who first became known to us on TV's Maverick was perfect for films like Support Your Local Sheriff.

One element of the humor of Support Your Local Sheriff is lost on today's audience. Back in the day among the more conservative elements in America there was a backlash against protesters in the Sixties. The right wing kind of liked police using nightsticks on the heads of irate citizens. Three years before in New York City when Mayor Lindsay tried to put in an independent Civilian Review Board for the NYPD, the Conservative Party of New York State and the Patrolman's Benevolent Association led a referendum campaign against it. The slogan of the campaign; Support Your Local Police.

Out west of course that means Support Your Local Sheriff. So as Kennedy spoofed the title, it has a double meaning, because in this film James Garner, an amiable stranger who drifts into a mining boom town, gets the job so he can earn enough money to get passage to Australia. And when he does need help the town council consisting of Mayor Harry Morgan, Willis Bouchey, Walter Burke, and Henry Jones is convened in a secret meeting in the town pleasure palace.

The only two people Garner can count on is Morgan's tomboy daughter Joan Hackett and Jack Elam who shovels horse waste product at the stable. Hackett patterns her role after Betty Hutton or Doris Day and a generation earlier they would have been in her part. Charlton Heston who worked with her in Will Penny said she was kind, loving, and talented and a great loss to acting at a young age.

As for Jack Elam, when he started in the Fifties he parlayed that blind eye of his into playing some of the most vicious psycho villains ever on screen. Look at him in such films as Rawhide and Kansas City Confidential and you can hardly believe it's the same actor. Starting in the Sixties, Elam began playing more and more comic parts and he had a natural gift for comedy. No one thought more of that than Burt Kennedy who started using Elam in just about all his projects after Support Your Local Sheriff.

The main villain in the piece is Walter Brennan in what turned out to be his last major theatrical film. He's the father of a trio of lunkhead sons one of whom, Bruce Dern, gets himself arrested for murder after Garner is made sheriff because Garner witnessed the killing. The rest of the film is Brennan trying to free Dern and calling in all kinds of reinforcements to do it.

Best scene in the film: Garner throwing rocks at a gunfighter instead of drawing down on him. Second best scene: Garner disarming Brennan by sticking his finger in the barrel of the six shooter Brennan is pointing at him. Burt Kennedy had a great sense of humor.

Support Your Local Sheriff is Burt Kennedy and James Garner at their best. They did another film, Support Your Local Gunfighter, which is not a sequel to this film, but just as funny. Too bad they didn't team for more films.
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Our last sheriff was a good organiser. Yellow clear through, but a good organiser.
hitchcockthelegend9 November 2010
Support Your Local Sheriff! is directed by Burt Kennedy and written by William Bowers. It stars James Garner, Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Jack Elam, Harry Morgan and Bruce Dern. Harry Stradling Jr. is the cinematographer and Jeff Alexander scores the music. The film is essentially a parody of a Western splinter that encompasses an iconoclastic new arrival in a troubled town who sets about taming it. Here it's James Garner as Jason McCullough who is on his way to Australia to make his fortune. Stopping over in an Old Western town for some rest, a bite to eat, and maybe earn some cash? McCullough is disgusted to find corruption and murder is rife. Showing a firm backbone and some nifty skills with a gun, McCullough highly impresses the town dignitaries who offer him the position of Sheriff. A job he finally accepts and begins taming the town with his unconventional methods.

Support Your Local Sheriff! Very much had time on its side when it was released. Interest in the Western as a genre had waned considerably, with the advent of free television potentially ready to drive the final nails into the coffin. Four years earlier Cat Ballou had shown that a comedy Western in the 60s could be well received. While master craftsman Howard Hawks had parodied his own Rio Bravo a year after Cat Ballou with the well regarded El Dorado. Throw into the pot that James Garner had good comedic Western credentials behind him on account of his run in TV series Maverick (1957-1962); and it's evident that Messrs Kennedy & Bowers knew exactly what they were doing.

Roger Ebert famously accused the makers of the film of being thieves, not buying into the parody basis, he hated the film and thought it just stole from other Western movies whilst being made in a TV show style. Well that's kind of the core of a parody movie is it not? Bowers & Kennedy have crafted a top dollar irreverent Oater, embracing the clichés of many standard genre pics that had gone before it-and then turning them upside down. While all the time, with this cast of very knowing genre participants, cloaking the picture with love and affection. It's not so much biting the hand that feeds you, but more a tasteful appreciation of what was sometimes fed.

Full of truly memorable scenes such as a jail without bars, the film is immeasurably helped by the on fire cast. Garner deadpans it a treat and is charismatic into the bargain. As he goes about taming the town more by logic and suggestion than rapid gunfire, he's a hero that's very easy to warm too. Hackett, who owes the Western fan nothing after Will Penny, is simply adorable as a bumbling rich girl quickly getting the hots for the new Sheriff. Morgan & Dern play it firmly with a glint in the eye and tongue in cheek, and Brennan, a god-like bastion of Western's, is hilarious as the patriarch of the bullying Danby clan. But best of the bunch is Jack Elam (The Far Country/ Vera Cruz/ Gunfight at the OK Corral), who playing the town character somehow finds himself (in spite of himself) employed as the Sheriff's deputy, turns in a lesson in visual and physical comedy. Fittingly it's Elam who closes the film out with a suitably knowing piece of smart.

It lacks some great scenic photography and the score is a bit too much Keystone Coppery, but really this is about the excellent script and the players bringing it to life. A Western comedy gem. 9/10
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re: Just Brilliant - watch it please.. then add your comments!
carl17017 July 2005
Just a brilliant film. It really is. Its a feel good movie, it makes you laugh, you can watch it on your own, or with a group of people(* family of friends). How man of todays films could you do this with????

Jack Elam, is wonderful cast in this film, and of course is James Gardner. To be fair everyone else is in this set. Everyone is perfect. Please, watch this show. Yes,its a "Western", which is seen as a "dirty" word these days within the movie world. But this is a classic.

Please make sure that this film gets in the top 50 all time great movies by watching it, then voting for it. Its that good.

You will be sorry if you miss this
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effective and flat-out funny blend of the Western and comedy genres
TheUnknown837-13 May 2008
"Support Your Local Sheriff!", like most comedy films, creates a sort of alternative reality dimension in which the characters are more bumbling and strange, behave completely unlike anybody would have in real life, and produce jokes that only the audience finds effective. And unlike others I can think of, "Support Your Local Sheriff!" does this very well. James Garner plays a take-it-easy man "on his way to Australia" who stops to take his first job ever as a lawman in a boomtown somewhere, sometime in the Old West. And right from the beginning, things really start to get awkward.

Garner shares the screen with other popular and talented actors such as Jack Elam, Harry Morgan, Walter Brennan, Joan Hackett, Gene Evans, and Bruce Dern. I felt the performances were very well-done, most noticeable for Harry Morgan as the town's loud-speaking, acting-before-thinking mayor and Jack Elam as Garner's reluctantly appointed deputy, having been "promoted" from "shoveling horse...working around the stables." Walter Brennan did a sort of parody on some of his other villainous characters, still maintaining a good performance and still being a comical character without making any of the modern "funny" tactics such as acting out of the ordinary.

That goes for the entire film. Even though it's a comedy and nothing in this film would really happen in a sane world of sane people, it makes it look as if it COULD happen. That's the problem with comedy films nowadays: they don't make things look like they MIGHT happen. This film does.

Bottom line, I recommend "Support Your Local Sheriff!" for its outstanding way of blending two quite contrary genres and still making a very effective and entertaining film. I found myself laughing several times and this is definitely the kind of film to suit an entire family just looking for a good, non-serious film that does not taking cliché or distasteful tactics in order to try and make us crack up.
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Why ,only last week he was shoveling shi -..!
Lambertart30 March 2009
Ha and ha! This movie gets me every time. If I'm flipping through the channels and I run across the darn thing, I HAVE to stop and watch it. Funny on many levels. The sight gags, the recurring one-liners, the character sketches, the overall goofiness! (And) Of course, the Danbys! Watch the thing just to hear the different accents and inflections. Also fun to see some of our favorite drama actors in this kind of film. Not really related to the "sequel" 'Support your local Gunfighter' but you'll want to see it because "Sheriff" is the shortest 92 minutes on celluloid. The weird thing about this movie is that although it is wildly over-the-top; You get the feeling that this could have actually happened somehow! They know just when to pull back enough to make the whole thing oddly believable.
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To put it simply..I watch that movie everytime its on
suzykeen8 November 1999
The casual tone of James Garner..and Jack Elam's kinda ditzy way of worrying made it worth watching for me...but then to put Bruce Dern as an not too bright gunman and Walter Brennan as his exasperated father makes me watch it over and over for the little simple and yet careful undertones....liked it alot...3 1/2 stars here...
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Ingenious Western Comedy; One of the Funniest Films Ever Made; Colorful
silverscreen88825 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This comedy western skirts the edge of parody and never falls over the edge,I suggest, thanks to the solid construction of the story-line by William Bowers.  What I like about it as a writer is that it draws its humor from one-liners, in-character speeches, actions, reactions, plans, stories, character confrontations, satirical moments and ideas.  The only near-parody element in the film that matters is the fantastic-level ability of the sheriff played by James Garner to shoot a six-gun.  In the story-line, he is a man trying to earn his way to Australia, a place which fascinates him.  He comes to a town where gold has been discovered, and finding the inflation of food prices going up faster than he can eat, he takes a job a sheriff with meals provided despite what the town's councilors tell him about the fate of the last gentlemen to wear the badge. He is helped in a shooting situation by Jack Elam, whom he takes on as a deputy since he knows he can trust him when the chips are down.  He promptly loads him with all the dirty work and sets about taking care of his one prisoner, a member of the murderous Danby family, the youngest and dumbest.  He pour a red line in paint across the floor of the ufinished jail cell, leads Joe in and mentions that the red stain came from the last occupant; instant jail is achieved.  The remainder of the film consists of two strands of development.  Old man Danby and his other sons, the patriarch played by Walter Brennan, tries to get his youngest out of jail and then to rid the town of the sheriff by hiring gunfighters to ventilate him, And the sheriff in his odd fashion thwarts them and courts the Mayor's daughter; played by Joan Hackett, she is feisty, lovely and lethal with weaponry.  When the Danby's round up all their cowboys and make one final try for Joe, the youngest, played by Bruce Dern, the sheriff ties him to a cannon and threatens to fire it, thereby ending the shooting war the Danby's had begun.  Inisisting it had never been loaded later, to his team, he sets it off and it destroys the local house of ill repute, where the council had taken refuge.  Surrendering to his fate, the sheriff then marries Miss Prudie Hackett, becomes governor and gives up on Australia, while, as he reports, Elam becomes "one of the most beloved characters in all of western folklore'.  The film is shot as if the world were always full of sunlight; it is color-filled, only a touch cynical around the edges of the dialogue and generally makes light of a solid western dramatic duel between a lawman and a gang of outlaws.  Many viewers believe it to be one of the most hilarious of westerns, myself among them. Veteran Burt Kennedy directed; music was supplied by Jeff Alexander.  The vivid full- color cinematography was supplied by Harry Stradling, Jr.; art direction was done by Leroy A. Coleman and the very fine set decorations were the work of Hugh Hunt. Perfomers in this laugh-riot besides the excellent leads included Harry Morgan as the Mayor, Henry Jones, Willis Bouchey, and Walter Burke as the town council, with Kathleen Freeman, Gene Evans, Dick Peabody, Dick Haynes, Chubby Johnson, John Milford and Tom Reese. Garner, in my judgment, offers one of his best performances in this film, and Jack Elam did award-level comedy in this comedic offering.  In a spin-off called "Support Your Local Gunfighter", director Kennedy tried to repeat the basic elements  so well used here but was much less successful.
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Riotous Western parody compellingly directed by Burt Kennedy with entertaining and amusing scenes
ma-cortes23 March 2013
Spoof Western with magnificent starring duo as James Garner as a likable sheriff and Joan Hackett as fem-lib mayor's daughter , both of whom giving great lots of fun . In the old west, a man becomes a sheriff just for the pay, figuring he can decamp if things get tough. The film talks about a gambler just passing through who gets roped into being sheriff (James Garner) who finds his nemesis an old baron land (Walter Brennan) . One trouble-shooting sheriff always puts his finger on it or in it , no wonder they call him : The fastest finger in the west . The sheriff cleans a lawless town in his own highly individual way and is helped by an inept deputy (Jack Elam) . In the end, he uses ingenuity instead and gets to tame a lawless mining town against all odds .

This wacky spoof is packed with mayhem , lots of silly laughters and great entertainment and fun . Most of the laughs and sight gags galore work acceptably well ; humor is also bold and intelligent with a myriad of imaginative sketches . Demystified Western was one of a group of much-imitated which changed the concept of this particular genre each bent on disproving a popular myth , yet tinged with humor , spoof and combining with anti-heroes , and the inevitable decadence protagonists . The formula deals to enhance the comics observations of the western originated on the decade 60 with the following filmmakers : Andrew McLagen and Burt Kennedy , fine director of this movie, and a bit later on , Mel Brooks directed the indispensable ¨Blazing saddles¨ , a surrealist , extreme and gross-out spoof with the ordinary bunch of loonies and loopies . Burt Kennedy directed similar Western blending comedy such as : ¨Support your local gunfighter (one of his better spoof Western)¨ , ¨Support your local sheriff¨ (his highpoint) , ¨Dirty Dingus Mcgee¨ , ¨War Wagon¨ and ¨ The Good guys and bad guys¨ . The picture is wonderfully amused and enjoyable with James Garner as a tough but sympathetic sheriff with his Maverick image who uses brains as well as brawny and guns . William Bowers's screenplay besides having more than its fair scraps of funny lines ,throws up rich personages . Thus , Walter Brennan makes a robustly likable characterization as well as Bruce Dern as a snide gunman and Harry Morgan as the Mayor . Special mention to Jack Elam as the old brawler clearly relishing his comic relief . Colorful cinematography rightly shot by excellent cameraman Harry Stradling , Burt Kennedy's usual . Jolly and agreeable musical score by Jeff Alexander .

This very funny motion picture was well directed by Burt Kennedy . He initially was screenwriter , his initial effort, ¨Seven men from now¨ (1956), was a superb western, the first of the esteemed collaboration between director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott. Kennedy wrote most of that series, as well as a number of others for Batjac, although it would be nearly 20 years before Wayne actually appeared in the film of a Kennedy script. In 1960 Kennedy got his first work as a filmmaker on a western, ¨The Canadians¨ (1961), but it was a critical failure . He turned to television where he wrote and directed episodes of "Lawman" (1958), "The Virginian " (1962) and most notably ¨Combat!"(1962). He returned to films in 1965 with the successful Te Canadians (1965), later producing and directing the pilot for the TV series of the same name. ¨Support you local sheriff¨ results to be one of his best Western . The film will appeal to absurd, unruly , wacky Western comedy fans . This raucous Western spoof is a James Garner vehicle , if you like his particular performance ,you'll enjoy this one .
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Wonderfully funny
rmrgmm19 August 2010
The film sets up an iconic old West setting. Character actors, often known for their dramatic roles, begin to deliver wonderfully inventive dialogue that is so surprisingly hilarious but logical and appropriate to the moment. There is such an unrelentingly casual, non-devisive banter between characters that constantly surprises the listener, and the highest acolades go to such a witty screen play that never tires in multiple viewings over time. And the ever clever parody of Western film-style music is an essential part of makes for one of the most gloriously funny films of all time. James Garner and Harry Morgan deliver their most simplistic yet outrageously funny performances.
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Well written and performed comedy
qdwilliams9 February 2007
There is some type of mistake that this film is rated a 7.5 because I do not see any "awful" reviews.

This film is probably one of the most well written and performed comedies of all time. The entire family can watch it, I love Blazing Saddles, but SYLSherriff film doesn't have to be "off-color" (no pun intended) to be funny. Being that the film is over thirty years old and people tell you they love it ought to tell you something. With many movies I watch, it is easy to be critical of what they could have done better to improve the movie, not with this one.

SYLGunfighter is also a good, funny movie, (and a must see) but I think loses a little luster because Garner is not as heroic.
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Comedy Western extraordinaire!
slymusic8 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Support Your Local Sheriff!" is a superb comedy Western that seemed to give a real career boost to its star performer: Mr. James Garner. Garner was the perfect choice for the role of Jason McCullough, who is simply the greatest sheriff any town could ever hope to have. Jason seems amiable and mild-mannered, but he has very sharp senses and a witty intelligence. He can always predict when somebody will run afoul of the law and when disaster will strike, and he can always tell without looking when an outlaw is trying to escape his jurisdiction. (He takes care of one particular outlaw by simply tossing rocks at him as he flees!) Jason's romantic interest is Prudy Perkins, well played by Joan Hackett. Prudy is quite a spunky gal who just can't seem to give Jason a good first impression, resulting in some embarrassing mishaps. The elderly Walter Brennan is terrific as the cranky Pa Danby, and Henry Morgan is great as the friendly mayor Olly Perkins, father of Prudy. And who could forget the superb Jack Elam as Jason's deputy Jake? Although he is uneasy about it at first, Jake provides the perfect sidekick for Jason as he quickly develops a great rapport with the new sheriff and willingly becomes his deputy. Bruce Dern as Pa Danby's outlaw son Joe is quite laughable; he may appear rough & tough on the exterior, but his personality is very whiny & childish! In fact, some of the funniest dialogue in the film centers around Joe being in jail; Pa Danby and his two other sons (Gene Evans and Dick Peabody) are in a bar discussing how to break Joe out ("He stuck his finger in the end of your WHAT?" "Would you shut up! Everybody'll be lookin'!" and "What's a martyr?" "Oh, I'm sorry. They didn't use words like that in the third grade, did they?").

On a personal note, a dear friend of mine who passed away in March of 2005 made a cameo appearance in "Support Your Local Sheriff!" His name was Richard Hoyt. Richard portrayed the slender bad guy who walks up to Jake asking him for Jason's whereabouts; upon spotting the sheriff exiting a hardware store, this outlaw tries to gun him down, but not in time! The part of Joe Danby was originally written for Richard, but since director Burt Kennedy declared that Richard Hoyt was not a household name, he gave the part to Bruce Dern and slated Richard for a cameo. Richard Hoyt was a man of many talents: he was a singer, actor, painter, dancer, martial arts instructor, counselor, and overall, a darn good entertainer. He lived his life to the fullest and declared that the kind of day you have is a choice you make. It shall therefore come to no surprise that I never watch "Support Your Local Sheriff!" without paying close attention to the special cameo appearance by a fine gentleman whom I have always admired and will always truly miss: Dr. Richard Hoyt.
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Very Funny
utgard148 January 2014
Jason McCullough (James Garner) is just passing through town on his way to Australia (!). Needing money, he takes the job of sheriff and quickly finds himself at odds with the criminal Danby family. Very funny western comedy. It sends up the western genre gently without being condescending or insulting like so many western comedies are. James Garner is terrific as the level-headed sheriff, as quick with his wits as with a gun. Great character actor Jack Elam is lots of fun as his sidekick. Bruce Dern is hilarious as the dim-witted Joe Danby. Walter Brennan plays the patriarch of the Danby clan. One would assume this is a send-up of his role in My Darling Clementine. He's very funny as well. Harry Morgan is solid as always. Joan Hackett as the hotheaded Prudy nearly steals the show. I say nearly because Garner's flawless performance can't be beat. It's really a superb cast in a must-see film.
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A very nice change of pace
MartinHafer29 March 2008
I first saw this film as a child and really enjoyed it. Now, over three decades later, I saw it again. I still enjoyed it, but can see that it's a film that would probably have a bit more appeal to kids.

This film is set in a boom town in the Old West. Because gold was recently discovered (in a tacky and funny way at the beginning of the film), there is a lot of violence. The last three sheriffs didn't last--so everyone expects the new sheriff, James Garner, to either be killed or run off like one of his predecessors.

Garner plays a part that is very much like his character from Maverick--a guy who uses his wits to win the day instead of brawn. Now this isn't to say that Garner can't shoot--in this movie he's an amazing shot. However, being a bit lazy and pragmatic, he usually finds a way to avoid the violence and STILL keep the town crime-free. Most of these ways are pretty funny (I particularly liked the red paint scene) and the film is a nice change of pace from the usual violent and brainless Western.

This movie was so successful that it triggered a sequel that was exceptionally similar--heck, the name was even similar. In SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER, the plot is pretty similar and so is the action, so if you liked one movie you'll no doubt like the other. A good film that is more than just another formulaic Western.
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Fun, charming, entertaining--mostly because of James Garner
secondtake13 March 2018
Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)

Starring James Garner on the rise, and riding the new tide of interest in the revised western (along with the great Spaghetti Westerns), this is surpisingly nimble and good. It's vivid and cheerful, and well written with flunny comebacks and a wry sense of absurdity. That's not to say it's a great movie-it isn't "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" at all-but that it's fun like the best television of the time, and with much higher production values. (It reminded me of the slightly earlier "A Big Hand for the Little Lady.") Director Burt Kennedy was a writer more than a director, at first, but he didn't have a hand in the screennplay here (though it is so sharp at times, you wonder if there were some little adjustments as they went). Garner is clearly the star here, and he's handsome with that pleasant smile that made him famous (and carries him through many scenes). Around him are some veteren character actors (including the great Walter Brennan) and they help overall even if they are sometimes caricatured a bit. In truth, the movie might have tipped into greatness with some more subtle direction, getting the irony and silliness to have some style or weight somehow. There's a lot of talent here, a fun idea for a story, and excellent dialog. See it, yes. Good enough that even the sequel ("Support Your Local Gunfighter" with Kennedy and Garner both back in their slots and without an exclamation point) is worth a casual look.
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Pardon me, but is that a Gun Barrel or a Finger Bowl?
dougdoepke20 September 2009
I love it when Sheriff Garner casually sticks his finger into bad guy Brennan's gun barrel. What a great way to disarm a menace. I don't know if his trick would really work, but who cares since it's good for a laugh. In fact, such imaginative goofiness could stand for the movie as a whole. Like when Garner chases a gunslinger out of town with a barrage of rocks. His aim may not be so good, but a thousand clichéd fast-draws flashed before me while I laughed. And it's not just Garner-- it's the whole superbly droll cast. Old pro's like Henry Morgan, Walter Brennan, Jack Elam, and even the newcomer Joan Hackett, a fine actress who shoots much too well, but in real life, died much too young. All the nonsense adds up to one really droll take-off on a thousand Western clichés, without rubbing your nose in it. It's also a tribute to the much under-rated helmsman Burt Kennedy and writer William Bowers who comes up with the great line about "disturbing the peace" as the three half-dressed councilmen escape the exploding bordello. Then too, looks like Garner's Cherokee Productions financed the project, proving that the savvy actor knows quality when he sees it. From start to finish— a real little gem.
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