Sunday, July 20, 2014
Actor James Garner has just died, at 86. He starred in The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974 to 1980.
Throughout his career Garner played characters who maintained their common sense despite being surrounded by all types of insanity. In Maverick, he played a card shark who didn't like to unsling his gun, and would always talk his way out of a fight if possible.
In The Rockford Files, he played a private eye who lost half the fights he (unwillingly) got into, and associated with a lot of lowlifes, but always had a pithy comment to accurately summarize whatever situation he found himself in.
In his favorite role, in The Americanization of Emily (opposite Julie Andrews), Garner played a cynical procurer who is reluctantly forced into the role of hero during WWII.
Hollywood has a long history of hiring cosseted body-builders to play tough soldiers, pretentious dummies to play geniuses, and homosexuals to play heterosexuals. Still, it's hard not to believe there was something in Garner that he imparted to all those charming, quick-witted, and cynical characters.
A big thanks to James Garner for all the pleasurable hours I spent watching The Rockford Files.