Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) starring James Garner, Jack Elam
In short, Support Your Local Sheriff is one of the most hilarious, laugh out loud comedies I’ve ever seen! It’s a hilarious spoof of the Western genre. It’s the story of a young man, played by James Garner, simply on his way to Australia. He stops at a small town, that’s in the middle of a big fight. Simply to put food on the table, he agrees to become the sheriff. For a short while, of course. Although he’s good with a gun, he doesn’t want to use it. He uses his brains far more than his excellent shooting skills.
Along the way, he stops the vicious Danby clan, falls in love with a lovely young lady, and … postpones his trip to Australia.
Cast of characters
- James Garner (36 Hours, Move Over Darling) … Jason. He’s on his way to Australia. He has been for the last four years. But he has every intention of making it there. Until he stops for the gold rush in town, and takes the “temporary” job of Sheriff.
- Joan Hackett (The Last of Sheila) … Prudy. The mayor’s lovely daughter. She takes no guff, and gives it. She tells people exactly what’s on her mind. And the quickly sets her cap on the handsome new sheriff …
- Walter Brennan (To Have and Have Not, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle) … Pa Danby. Head of the Danby’s, chief antagonist.
- Harry Morgan (The Apple Dumpling Gang, Holiday Affair) … Mayor Olly Perkins. Rudy’s father, who hires Jason as the latest Sheriff. He initially expects him to be dead soon, but he’s glad to be wrong.
- Jack Elam (Kansas City Confidential) … Jake. Former horse manure shoveler, now Jason’s deputy.
- Henry Jones (Vertigo) … Henry Jackson
- Bruce Dern (The Cowboys) … Joe Danby. The dumbest of the Danby’s, who commits murder in front of Jason. And is then offended that he’s put in jail for it.
- Willis Bouchey (Red Planet Mars) … Thomas Devery
- Gene Evans (Donovan’s Brain, The Giant Behemoth) … Tom Danby. One of the bully Danby sons.
- Walter Burke (The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze) … Fred Johnson. One of the cowardly town council, as well as mine owner.
- Dick Peabody (Combat! TV Series) … Luke Danby. The other bully Danby son.
- Chubby Johnson (Calamity Jane) … Brady
- Kathleen Freeman (The Disorderly Orderly, The Fly) … Mrs. Danvers. A very funny comedy cameo, as Prudy is hiding in a tree …
- Dick Haynes (The Phantom Planet) … Bartender
Armed with a wry sense of humor and a straight-shooting sidearm, James Garner (Maverick, My Fellow Americans) fights for peace, justice and fun in this outrageous, irreverent and “very funny” (Los Angeles Times) farce co-starring Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan and Jack Elam. Support Your Local Sheriff is “sheer entertainment from start to finish” (Boxoffice)! On his way to Australia, frontier opportunist Jason McCullough (Garner) stumbles into a small gold-rush town and decides to earn a little extra pocket money by accepting a temporary assignment as its sheriff.
Happily applying himself to his new position, McCullough manages to turn the town derelict (Elam) into his deputy, outsmart the dreaded Danby clan (led by Brennan in a hilarious comic performance), and fend off the lusty advances of the mayor’s daughter (Hackett) all without breaking a sweat or dirtying his shiny black boots!
Editorial review of Support Your Local Sheriff courtesy of Amazon.com
While hardly the first Western spoof to ride out of Hollywood, Support Your Local Sheriff is easily one of the best. James Garner plays the confident, cool-headed cowboy who strolls into a wild gold rush town on the way to Australia and takes the job as sheriff. Like a parody of My Darling Clementine by way of Rio Bravo, he arrests the hotheaded but hopelessly confused son (Bruce Dern) of a ruthless ranching magnate (Walter Brennan). Stuck with a half-built jail (where he keeps his prisoner penned up with pure psychology and a few spatters of red paint), a rummy sidekick (google-eyed Jack Elam in one of his first comic turns), and a disaster-prone tomboy (Joan Hackett), he takes on a succession of gunfighters with increasing exasperation.
“Sure is a childish way for a grown man to make a living,” he laments before chasing one gunman out of Dodge by pelting him with rocks. Directed with laconic ease by veteran Western director Burt Kennedy, it’s a clever spoof of familiar conventions in a lighthearted vein, more understated and affectionate than Mel Brooks’s outrageous farce Blazing Saddles. It inspired a slew of imitators, including a decade of silly Disney Westerns that sank the genre in slapstick shenanigans, and was followed in 1971 by Kennedy’s pseudosequel Support Your Local Gunfighter, which reteamed Garner and Elam in a more mercenary story of con artists and gunslingers. –Sean Axmaker