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James Garner, 1928-2014 - Laura Wise

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July 20th, 2014


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06:49 am - James Garner, 1928-2014
I have long loved James Garner.

I almost wrote "James Garner's work," but... David Thomson in his Biographical Dictionary of Film noted how long James Garner played Maverick and Rockford and added, "For Garner, that was an hour a week for twenty-six weeks a year for ten years. That is the equivalent of well over a hundred movies -- and if any actor could claim one hundred movies made with the wit, narrative speed, and good-natured ease of Maverick and Rockford Files, he would be... Cary Grant?" Like Grant, Garner's TV and film persona came to stand for something more.

He was big (6'2"), high-cheekboned handsome both as a young man and as a middle-aged man in everything from Rockford to the amazing Victor/Victoria and Murphy's Romance, witty and easy. He claimed he was "lazy," which is a palpable lie considering how much he worked; the thing is, he never looked like he was trying that hard. He just WAS that cool.

He presented a kind of on-screen masculinity we don't see much these days: competence, solidity, wryness. (It's odd, I suppose, to include 'solidity' for an actor who so often played screw-ups and/or con men, but really, that underlay all his roles.) And his masculinity was enhanced, rather than threatened, by his ability to engage fully with smart, competent women. He and Julie Andrews together.... goodness.

He's gone now, but I will keep loving his work and that something more he had.

EDITED TO ADD: The opening to The Rockford Files.

(31 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:kathyh
Date:July 20th, 2014 11:47 am (UTC)
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Damn, another one gone.

he never looked like he was trying that hard.

Yes, that's it exactly. The same quality that Cary Grant had, you never saw them "acting" even though they were both wonderful actors. I can't think of an actor today who embodies that same ease and charm.
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC)
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I can't think of an actor today who embodies that same ease and charm. Of {edited to add: North) American* actors, Nathan Fillion might come closest -- but he's not quite where Garner was.

Hugs, K.

*I forgot Fillion is Canadian. ;)

Edited at 2014-07-20 12:34 pm (UTC)
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From:empresspatti
Date:July 20th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
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He was wonderful!
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 01:52 pm (UTC)
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He really, truly was.
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From:tx_cronopio
Date:July 20th, 2014 03:29 pm (UTC)
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Actually, there is one scene in the Rockford Files, where he was sleeping, and his dad came by to wake him up, and there was a bare muscular arm, and little 16-yr old me suddenly woke up and said, Oh! That's what this sex thing is all about ! (That was probably TMI.)

I also loved The Americanization of Emily, which is one of his early films with JA, little lauded.
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC)
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TMI in return: on one memorable occasion when I was but a lass, I opined that James Garner would be the perfect first lover because not only was he hot as hell, he was also kind. The group of women to whom I was talking agreed vociferously. ;)
[User Picture]
From:stateless82
Date:July 20th, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Me, too.
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
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[hugs hugs]
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From:gwynnega
Date:July 20th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
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A lovely tribute to James Garner!

::hugs::
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
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I just spent the afternoon reading his autobiography, and now I love him even more. :)

[hugs hugs]
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From:julia_here
Date:July 20th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC)
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Lots of conversations with DH today about Garner, including the long time tradition of watching Rockford Files with The Programmer, Geoffrey the Gasoline Addict, and the Insane Falconer, the latter two lost in the past two years and how all the great liberal Okies moved away to other states.

Julia, such a fine human being, Jim Garner
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From:laurawise
Date:July 20th, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
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I still have liberal friends who live in Oklahoma, but oh, it's hard for them.

I'd no idea that Garner was part of the 'Hollywood' group organized by Harry Belafonte which went to The March on Washington, but he was. A good and decent man indeed.

[hugs]
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From:rahirah
Date:July 21st, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
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:( He was always a pleasure to watch.
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From:laurawise
Date:July 21st, 2014 12:00 pm (UTC)
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He really was. :(

[hugs] Happy Monday!
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From:mobile_alh
Date:July 21st, 2014 04:30 am (UTC)
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All of those and a delectable short-lived series called "Nichols" late in his career wherein he played another reluctant western lawman, at the turn of the last century. Such a solid charmer....
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From:laurawise
Date:July 21st, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
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I just read his autobiography, and he LOVED Nichols and was crushed it only got a season. (He was also the producer of it.)

Hugs hugs, ALH, and a good week despite Comic-Con!
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From:roguedemon
Date:July 21st, 2014 06:39 am (UTC)
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((Hugs))
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From:laurawise
Date:July 21st, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
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[hugs hugs]
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From:freixenet
Date:July 21st, 2014 12:16 pm (UTC)
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:so many hugs:
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From:laurawise
Date:July 21st, 2014 02:18 pm (UTC)
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[hugs back]
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From:heron_pose
Date:July 22nd, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
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Devastating, isn't it? Thought of you ... Such a good man.
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From:laurawise
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC)
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A very good man indeed. As I said upthread, I didn't know he'd been one of the Hollywood contingent to MLK Jr's March on Washington, but Diahann Carroll said lovely things about him and the way he looked out for her at the March.

Photographic evidence.

Hugs hugs, H_P. Am thinking of you.
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From:paratti
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
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(((Hugs)))
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From:laurawise
Date:July 22nd, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC)
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[hugs hugs] Happy almost Wednesday, mate!

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