James Garner is one of my favorite actors. As a child, I was a devoted fan of his TV western series Maverick in which he played a nattily dressed gambler who, while not a coward, would go to great lengths to avoid a fight that might mess up his clothes. His later TV series like the The Rockford Files and his films built on his image of the friendly, easy-going guy who finds himself in situations that he would rather avoid but deals with it anyway. That personality was what made me like him.
He really is like the men he plays onscreen, even unto the modest requirements symbolized by the humble trailer that serves Jim Rockford for a residence. He is thoughtful, honest, and fundamentally gentle, although he has knocked men down when riled. On the evidence given here, one doesn’t doubt that they asked for it. One doesn’t doubt this guy at all.
One of Garner’s great charms is that he seems like a really nice guy but it is almost impossible to know if the private personas of famous people match their public image. But the boyfriend of a friend of mine is a character actor who has acted in many films and gets the ‘below the title’ credit assigned to character actors who have significant roles. He is the kind of actor you recognize on the screen as having seen before but cannot easily recall the specific film. When I met him once he mentioned a film that he was working on with Garner and I asked about him and he replied that Garner in real life was even nicer than his public image.
Given that so many of one’s childhood favorites later turn out to have feet of clay, it was nice in this case to have a childhood impression reinforced.
Here’s the trailer for one of his films, Support Your Local Sheriff