Westerns are not just for guys. They aren’t all shoot’em-up-bang-bang. Some are quite funny, and some are very romantic. I don’t mind admitting comedies are my favorite genre. But, westerns hold a special place in my heart. So, when you can mix comedy, romance, and cowboys - well, can you ask for anything more?
I believe I’ve mentioned a partiality to James Garner. He makes the best Wyatt Earp there is! Sunset, with Bruce Willis as Tom Mix, is a charming, fish-out-of-water tale, completely sending up the watery romp through silent-film Hollywood.
The film is loosely based on the friendship Earp and Mix, who would join John Ford and play poker together on the back-lots of Republic Pictures. For me, the saddest part of the whole story is the fact that the film takes place in 1929, just a few months after the real Earp had died, at the age of 80, from complications of kidney disease. He had one of the largest funerals in the history of Hollywood. Mix and William S. Hart, another early silent-film star, were pallbearers.
Garner, capturing the real Wyatt Earp, is at his best in Sunset. But my favorite film of his is Support Your Local Sheriff, another mix of romance, cowboys, gunfights and comedy. Perhaps here, as in no other movie, Garner becomes Earp in the prime of life. He is 'laid-back,' charming, brave, quick-thinking, and quite romantic.
We complete the James Garner trilogy with Mel Gibson’s remake of Maverick. Garner is a 'legendary sheriff,' charming, romantic, quick-thinking… Wyatt Earp. Jodie Foster’s gorgeous wardrobe is unusually accurate for a movie. You need your remote to continually pause the poker tournament. Those sequences alone make the film worth-while. It is full of old television western ‘heroes,’ along with a few country music stars mixed in for good fun. Great ending! Graham Greene steals the show, trust me.
McClintock was my first ‘adult’ film. I was seven or eight when my newly-married aunt and her husband took me with them to see it at one of the great old movie theaters in West Palm Beach. We met my other uncle and his new wife there. I was so grown up. Until McClintock, every time she took me to see a Disney movie with her I would start crying and we would need to leave. I just did not like, and still do not like, those old cartoons. But this was a turning point in my childhood. Consequently it holds a special place in my heart. So the storyline might be a little sexist. The cast and scenery over-come the sexist deficit. Quite a bit of it was filmed around Tombstone.