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?


  1. Use care! Reclining in said Lazy Boy may result in unexpected nap. Which is fine, but will cause you to rewatch all of the movie you missed! :)

  2. You don't sound cranky to me--we have a huge library of old movies we've captured and we watch them over and over again. I saw 2 "new" movies in 2013, "OZ" and something else I can't even remember. New movies seem to me (for the most part) to be so dependent on wham! bang! and CGI that there is no room for plot and character development. I have a red leather Lazy Boy and I love to sit, stitch and watch movies. Welcome to the club! PS: If there are current equals to the three gents you named, the only ones I can think of are Clooney, Damon and DiCaprio, but I'm not sure they are peers.

  3. This was just a lovely read, sort of the feeling i get watching and old Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman movie. Thanks for sharing and how ironic for you!

  4. I couldn't not watch "Twilight" after you mentioned it, and that James Garner was in it. He was such a great actor---as was all the cast in the film. Sarandon has not aged a bit!
    Thank you for mentioning this movie. I hope you can stay awake in your Lazy Boy chair! We did have a Lazy Boy recliner sofa (wish we still did as I hate our new "not" Lazy Boy) sofa! But that is another story….anyway, I could only stay awake in the evenings for about an hour whenever I sat in the recliner sofa. Even if I didn't recline! There must be some sleep inducing fiber fill in those recliners! I swear! LOL!

  5. You MUST check out The Notebook, another James Garner flick that I highly recommend! I'll go check out Twilight, one I haven't seen. As for contemporary movies, I was pleased w the Frankie Valli story, The Jersey Boys. And I'm looking forward to My Old Lady this fall. I'm w Irish17020 - she's got a heckuva leading men list started!

  6. Oh, Diane, what about American Hustle? Wonderful acting and a great story. Try to catch The Immigrant with Marion Cotillard...great acting. I think you are going to the wrong theaters. Doesn't Healdsburg have an art house? Thanks for the Twilight recommendation. I missed that one.

  7. Actually, you guys have reminded me that I've seen some wonderful movies over the last year (and yes, I'd count American Hustle as one of them!)

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