Sunday, July 20, 2014
So Long, James Garner
Last night, I was in the mood to watch a good movie, and after casting about among the popular movies available through my pay-per-view cable provider, I switched over to Netflix to find an older movie that would suit my mood. Shopping through the weird array of current movies made me crave reliable, good acting, a plot with some depth maybe. And almost immediately I settled on a "Twilight," a 1998 movie starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene and Hackman.
Somehow I'd missed this back when it came out. (Let's see. Miss C was 2. We were moving from New England to California in 1998. That explains it -- not a lot of movie-watching going on back then.)
It was a terrific movie, better than the 2 stars Roger Ebert gave it in the review I linked above. Maybe it just suited my mood -- a slow pace, a delicious film noir sensibility, the scenes of LA and the Sarandon/Hackman celebrity couple with Reese Witherspoon as their spoiled, cynical daughter, Paul Newman as a comfortably jaded retired PI. It felt like a trip to another era -- you know, when movies were really good and actors really acted. (Goodness, I'm sounding old and cranky. I've just not seen a really great current movie in a while. Recommendations welcome below!)
At any rate, when I started the movie I'd focused on Newman and Sarandon and Hackman. So when James Garner ambled onto the screen (and he has just a perfect amble, doesn't he?) I was surprised. I'd not realized he was in the movie. And I felt such a rush of pleasure, like having an old friend appear at the door after a long absence. I've always loved him -- and he's so likable. As Paul Newman's long-time private eye buddy, he was perfect.
And then this morning, I woke to the news that James Garner died last night. Weirdly synchronistic, and terribly sad... but I was glad I'd spent last night with him, in a manner of speaking.
So I've been thinking about how I've enjoyed James Garner in so many films and shows over the year. I feel a James Garner movie marathon coming on to re-watch some of my favorites:
Move Over, Darling (movie, with Doris Day)
The Thrill of it All (another with Doris Day)
The Americanization of Emily (oh, a wonderful, wonderful movie with Julie Andrews)
The Rockford Files
Murphy's Romance (with Sally Field)
Scanning James Garner's filmography on IMDB, I see there are quite a few movies of his that I've not seen. Looks like I've got my movie watching taken care of for a while.
*** Oh dear. It has just occurred to me that I may have cause for serious concern. This past week, I took delivery of an amazing comfortable LaZBoy recliner. Am I destined to sit in it, trolling for old movies and fussing that "they don't make 'em like that any more?" I'd better find some good current movies, fast. Which begs another question: who is current film equivalent of actors like Paul Newman and James Garner and Jimmy Stewart?