Monday, July 21, 2014

To Absent Friends - James Garner

It is old news by now, but actor James Garner died this past weekend at the age of 86.

Where do you even start with James Garner?  IMDB lists 95 acting credits for Garner.  He began in television, as a star of the series "Maverick", transitioned nicely to leading man roles in the movies, and then back again to TV with the long-running "Rockford Files".  He was likable in just about everything he did.  Have you ever heard something bad  about James Garner?

I remember watching the 1963 movie "The Great Escape" a year or so ago, and being tremendously impressed with Garner's work in it.  That movie will always be remembered for Steve McQueen and his motorcycle, but for my money, Garner was the best guy in the movie.

Marilyn and I are also partial to 1985's "Murphy's Romance" a delightful romantic comedy/drama with Sally Field, and for which Garner received his only Oscar nomination.

He hadn't been real active in these later years. I recall seeing him in a "My Fellow Americans" (1996), a comedy in which he and Jack Lemmon played a couple of former Presidents, and in 2000's "Space Cowboys" wherein he, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Southerland played a group of aging astronauts.  The last time I actually watched a Garner movie was when 1969's "Marlowe" aired on TCM a few months ago.  Based upon the Raymond Chandler stories, Garner played the iconic private eye, Phillip Marlowe.  The movie wasn't so hot, but Garner, not unexpectedly, rose above the material, and was fun to watch.

One of the Internet headlines I saw about Garner's death said "James Garner, Hollywood 'Good Guy', Dead at 86". That summed it up pretty nicely.

RIP James Garner.

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