Although James Garner, who died Saturday, age 86, is probably best remembered for his TV work -- for his sly, signature roles as a cowboy cardsharp in the late '50s western, Maverick, and as Jim Rockford, the gun-shy private eye in the 1970s series The Rockford Files – the actor’s film output was nothing to take lightly. (Although Garner’s screen persona was all about taking things lightly – in the most beguiling of ways.)
On Monday, July 28, Turner Classic Movies will shove aside its regular schedule to make way for a dozen of the lantern-jawed, Oklahoma charmer’s movies. (Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner, by the way.) Missing from TCM’s lineup are the Roald Dahl brain-twister, 36 Hours (1965), the jaunty POW thriller The Great Escape (1963), with Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood’s aging astronauts drama Space Cowboys (2000) , and Murphy’s Romance (1985), the Martin Ritt-directed, Sally Field-costarring rom-com which won Garner his one and only Oscar nomination.
But there are a few essential ones here, foremost being The Americanization of Emily (1964), a sharp World War II anti-war piece from writer Paddy Chayefsky and director Arthur Hiller, with Julie Andrews as a proper Brit who is both turned off and turned on by Garner’s cynical Navy Reserve officer, scamming his way around London in the weeks leading up to D-Day. And Andrews and Garner reteamed in 1982’s gender-crossing comedy musical Victor/Victoria, from director Blake Edwards. In Mister Buddwing (1964), adapted from an Evan Hunter novel and directed with jazzy cool (in black-and-white) by the great Delbert Mann, Garner plays an amnesiac wandering around New York, wondering who he is – a forerunner to Harrison Ford’s Regarding Henry.
Here’s the complete "TCM Remembers James Garner" lineup:
6 a.m. – Toward the Unknown (1956) – with William Holden, Lloyd Nolan and Virginia Leith
8 a.m. – Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) – with Randolph Scott, James Craig and Angie Dickinson
9:30 a.m. – Grand Prix (1966) – With Eva Marie Saint, Brian Bedford and Yves Montand
12:30 p.m. – Cash McCall (1960) – With Natalie Wood, Nina Foch and Dean Jagger
2:15 p.m. – The Wheeler Dealers (1963) – With Lee Remick, Phil Harris and Chill Wills
4 p.m. – Darby's Rangers (1958) – With Etchika Choureau and Jack Warden
6:15 p.m. – Mister Buddwing (1966) – With Jean Simmons, Angela Lansbury and Suzanne Pleshette
8 p.m. – The Thrill of It All (1963) – With Doris Day and Arlene Francis
10 p.m. – The Americanization of Emily (1964) – With Julie Andrews, Melvyn Douglas and James Coburn
12 a.m. – The Children's Hour (1961) – With Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and Miriam Hopkins
2 a.m. – Victor/Victoria (1982) – With Julie Andrews, Robert Preston and Lesley-Ann Warren
4:30 a.m. – Marlowe (1969) – With Rita Moreno, Sharon Farrell and Bruce Lee