Plot: What’s it about?
Jason McCullough (James Garner) is just passing through on his way to Australia, but he soon finds himself in the position of town sheriff. Now how does a passing through stranger end up as the town’s main lawman? To be honest, it was the cash that made McCullough take the job, which he assumed would be a temporary task in the end. But he won’t allow his stipend to go unwarranted, so he tries to do all his errands to the best of his abilities, so long as he can have fun in the process. This small gold rush town might not be much to look at, but their new sheriff intends to make it a nice place to hang your hat. Soon after he takes the position, he ends up proving his skills with a gun and arrests a young man, who happens to be part of the Danby clan. Now McCullough has to battle Pa Danby (Walter Brennan) and his clan, fends off the advances of the mayor’s daughter, Prudy (Joan Hackett), and even chooses a most unusual deputy to serve by his side. This new sheriff might need to use his brain more than his fists, but he always seems to come out on top when the chips are down.
I was very pleased to this hilarious film released on DVD, as well as the later effort, Support Your Local Gunfighter. I like Westerns more than I used to, but it is a lot of fun to watch James Garner turn the conventions inside out, though in a very loving method. So yes, this is a parody to be sure, but not in the same overly silly fashion as Blazing Saddles. I think Blazing Saddles is a very humorous movie, but it throws jokes a million a minute, whereas the humor here is paced slower, but works almost every time. So don’t expect The Naked Gun in spurs, but you can expect a lot of laughs and some terrific inside jokes, so brush up on your genre pictures beforehand. I also think you need to be a fan of Westerns to fully appreciate some of the gags, whereas Blazing Saddles was more aimed at a mainstream audience. But if you’re a fan of classic Westerns and need a change of pace, Support Your Local Sheriff is highly recommended, especially with this new anamorphic widescreen transfer. Garner leads a very loaded cast and in the end, this one ropes in a stampede of laughs and is well worth a look.
The man in the saddle here is James Garner, who plays the role to perfection and really works well within the film’s structure. He is able to seem natural within the environment, but also give his character an edge, which makes seem knowing. And that works very well here, as Garner’s character seems to know just what to do in each situation, as if he’s watched all the classic westerns himself. I know that sounds strange, but it is evident as you watch the character, he seems very aware of what happens and how to manipulate it to his means. I think Garner plays it just right, never too removed, but just enough to make it seem natural. Other films with Garner include Murphy’s Romance, Grand Prix, The Great Escape, Maverick, Tank, and Support Your Local Gunfighter. The cast here also includes Walter Brennan (My Darling Clementine, Rio Bravo), Jack Elam (The Last Sunset, High Noon), Harry Morgan (Cimarron, Apache War Smoke), and Joan Hackett (The Escape Artist, Rivals).
Video: How does it look?
Support Your Local Sheriff is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Although this transfer looks a little soft in some scenes, I think fans will pleased, as this is the best home video edition available. The colors seem bright enough, though a little faded at times and flesh tones look natural from start to finish. The contrast is steady and solid throughout also, very good detail is evident and the black levels seem to be in order as well. There is some grain and print wear to be seen here, but much less than I expected, so no real complaints there. I saw some minor compression flaws also, but nothing serious and I have to say, this is a very nice overall visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
A basic, but effective mono track is included, which seems to be adequate in the end. The gunshots, yee-haws, horse hooves, and other sound effects come through fine here, though not with the range we’ve come to expect. But still, I think a new surround mix here would be unneeded, as this mono option seems clean and never disappoints. The music also seems in good working order here, which is good, as it adds a lot to the atmosphere and tone of the picture. I heard no problems with the dialogue either, as it sounds crisp and very consistent in this mix. The disc also includes a French mono option, as well as French and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.