Support Your Local Sheriff - In the old west, a man becomes a sheriff just for the pay, figuring he can decamp if things get tough. In the end, he uses ingenuity instead.
Support Your Local Gunfighter - A con artist arrives in a mining town controlled by two competing companies. Both companies think he's a famous gunfighter and try to hire him to drive the other out of town.
What's better than one entertaining movie? Two entertaining movies, and that's what Twilight Time delivers with their double-feature release of 'Support Your Local Sheriff' (1969) / 'Support Your Local Gunfighter' (1971), two comedic westerns directed by Burt Kennedy and starring James Garner that came out as the genre's popularity began to decline in American pop culture. The latter is not a sequel, but it did use some of the same cast and crewmembers and the story has a similarly silly tone.
'Sheriff' (3.5/5) opens during a funeral of the sheriff of Calendar, Colorado, who was killed after only having been there two days, demonstrating how wild things are. During the ceremony, the townsfolk find gold in the open grave and eventually those looking to strike it rich soon follow. One such man is Jason McCullough (Garner), who is looking to take part in gold rush before heading off to Australia. He takes the job as sheriff, which includes room and board at Mayor Olly Perkins' (Henry Morgan) home. Perkins' daughter Prudy (Joan Hackett) is feisty and surely anyone who has seen a few movies can guess she is likely to be Jason 's romantic partner before the end of the film.
The movie's conflict comes from Jason arresting Joe Danby (Bruce Dern) for murder. Jason is in such control of the situation he is able to keep Joe there even though the cell has no bars. Pa Danby (Walter Brennan) isn’t happy about his son's incarceration and gathers up a bunch of relatives to break him out of jail. As usually happens within this genre, the townsfolk don’t want to take part in fighting the gang of bad guys, leaving Jason, along with his deputy Jake (Jack Elam) and Purdy, to handle the overwhelming odds.
'Gunfighter' (3.5/5) opens with Latigo Smith (Garner) riding a train with Goldie (Marie Windsor), a madam who very much desires to marry him. He has other ideas and sneaks off at the next stop, Purgatory, CO, a town where two mining companies, one owned by Taylor Barton (Morgan), the other by Colonel Ames (John Dehner), are competing to see which can get to the gold mother lode first. Everyone mistakes Latigo for notorious gunfighter Swifty Morgan, whom Ames summoned to help him against Barton.
Latigo, assisted by down-to-owning-a-pair-of-spurs Jug (Jack Elam), uses this information to make some money and skip town before Swifty (an uncredited Chuck Connors) shows up. Although Swifty isn't the only thing Latigo has to worry about as Barton's daughter, the ironically named Patience (Suzanne Pleshette), wants to kill "Swifty" to save her father and ensure she can go back east to finishing school, but once she spends some time in his company, her blood lust subsides.
While both films are amusing, filled with funny plot twists and humorous performances, James Garner on-screen charm is the key reason why both films work. As both Jason and Latigo, he's the coolest guy in the story. If not in control, and there are moments in both films where things don't go according to plan, he soon gets things under control through his wits, although Jason does have the additional advantage of being extremely quick on the draw. He portrays very likable heroes who come out on top across the board.
Both 'Support Your Local Sheriff' and 'Support Your Local Gunfighter' are enjoyable, light-hearted romps through the western genre. While there are aspects in both films that come across forced, from the romantic subplots to the obligatory barroom brawls, most of the plot turns are believable and the humor and action deliver enough to make each movie worth viewing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Twilight Time’s 'Support Your Local Sheriff / Gunfighter' comes on a 50GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard clear keepcase. The disc boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements and offers the movie selections. There is a booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo about both movies.
The video for both films have been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.85:1.
'Sheriff' (4/5) – there are dirt and scratches, but they clear up once the movie begins. The establishing shots are very grainy, but quickly improve to a more natural appearance. The colors come through in rich hues as seen in the bright red walls and the green gambling tables in the bar. Blacks have an adequate inkiness and fleshtones are consistent. The image is sharp, evidenced in the great details of Jason’s corduroy jacket and the long shots down the town's main street.
'Gunfighter (4/5) – there are also strong color hues on display here. The reds seen on the walls of Miss Jenny's saloon and the dynamite containers all pop off the screen. The brown of the wood paneling in the saloon interior is also rich. The blacks are a bit stronger and there's good separation between dark objects and backgrounds at times. Texture details come through with sufficient clarity.
The audio for both films is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 and neither track sounds as if hampered by signs of damage or wear. 'Sheriff' (3/5) – The dialogue comes through clear and blends well in the mono mix with the effects and music. The bass is limited although a cannon blast offers a nice oomph. The dynamic range is adequate.
'Gunfighter (3.5/5) scores a tick higher because there's more use of bass from the occasional mine explosions that shake the town. This track has a slightly better dynamic range. At the quieter end, the soft jingle of Jug's spurs is apparent. Dialogue also sounds clear here and is part of a pleasing mix.
Fans of westerns and James Garner should support Twilight Time by picking up the 'Support Your Local Sheriff' / 'Support Your Local Gunfighter'. The HD presentation is satisfactory, although the special features are unfortunately light.