Just nine day after James Garner passed away at the age of 86, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is saluting the late TV and film star with a 12-film marathon taking over their schedule on Monday, July 28. Throughout the day-long marathon, TCM will offer films representing the great range of a career that spanned more than five decades.
The marathon begins with a newly recorded introduction by TCM’s esteemed host, Robert Osborne in which he reminisces about Garner and reveals that he’s long been considered a ‘member of the TCM family.’ Promos for the day-long tribute heard in voice over between the films, refer to Garner as a movie ‘Maverick’, an obvious not to his early TV success starring in the western series of the same name.
As TCM looks back on the career of James Garner, they offer a unique glimpse at his range and his unwavering ability to create chemistry with his leading ladies in all genres from comedy to drama to musical. That chemistry is well represented during the primetime portion of Monday’s marathon. During that time, TCM will air the lighthearted romantic comedy romp, ‘The Thrill of It All’ co-starring Doris Day; a then-controversial black comedy, ‘The Americanization of Emily’ alongside Julie Andrews; yet another controversial drama, ‘The Children’s Hour’ with Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; a decidedly different re-teaming with Julie Andrews in the cross-dressing musical comedy, ‘Victor/Victoria’ and the suspense thriller ‘Marlowe’, co-starring Rita Moreno.
The full lineup for TCM’s tribute to James Garner is as follows (all times Central):
5 a.m. – Toward the Unknown – starring William Holden, Lloyd Nolan and James Garner
7 a.m. – Shoot Out at Medicine Bend (1957) – starring Randolph Scott, James Craig, Angie Dickenson and James Garner
8:30 a.m. – Grand Prix (1966) – starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Brian Bedford and Yves Montand
11:30 a.m. – Cash McCall (1960) – James Garner, Natalie Wood, Nina Foch and Dean Jagger
1:15 p.m. – The Wheeler Dealers (1963) – starring James Garner, Lee Remick, Phil Harris and Chill Wills
3 p.m. – Darby’s Rangers (1958) – starring James Garner, Etchika Choureau and Jack Warden
5:15 p.m. – Mister Buddwing (1966) – starring James Garner, Jean Simmons, Angela Lansbury and Suzanne Pleshette
7 p.m. – The Thrill of It All (1963) – starring Doris Day, James Garner and Arlene Francis
9 p.m. – The Americanization of Emily (1964) – starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Melvyn Douglas and James Coburn
11 p.m. – The Children’s Hour (1961) – starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner and Miriam Hopkins
1 a.m. – Victor/Victoria (1982) – starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston and Lesley-Ann Warren
3:30 a.m. – Marlowe (1969) – starring James Garner, Rita Moreno, Sharon Farrell and Bruce Lee.
Of course TCM being a movie network, they won’t delve into Garner’s equally impressive TV success. TV is indeed where Garner got his start with in the mid-fifties appearing in a number of memorable TV roles include a handful of smaller roles on ‘Cheyenne’. He guested in four episodes, playing four different roles from 1955-1957. During this time, Garner also appeared on the big screen, finding his niche in westerns there as well. In addition to the aforementioned ‘Maverick’ (1957-1960), Garner also starred in the memorable 1970s detective drama, ‘The Rockford Files’. Following still more films, including 1980’s psychological thriller, ‘The Fan’ starring Lauren Bacall, he returned to series television several more times. (Side Note: ‘The Fan’ is currently offered via Comcast On Demand in the Free Movies section, I watched it this weekend).
In addition to a Maverick reboot, ‘Bret Maverick’, Garner also became even more recognizable to fans as half of a bickering couple in commercials for Polaroid cameras alongside Mariette Hartley. The two had such great screen chemistry that fans often stopped them on the street and inquired about their spouse thinking the two were actually married in real-life.
Garner’s comedic timing on the big screen in films like 1963’s ‘Move Over Darling’, co-starring Doris Day, made him the perfect leading man in 1991’s political sitcom, ‘Man of the People’. Still another ‘Maverick’ redo followed with 1994’s made-for-TV movie. This time Garner guested in a non-Maverick role. Never one to snub his nose at his past, Garner also starred in no less than eight ‘Rockford Files’ TV movies in the 90s.
TV appearances like the mini-series ‘Street of Laredo’, multiple appearances on ‘Chicago Hope’ and a stint as the voice of God in the now-forgotten 2000 sitcom ‘God, the Devil and Bob’ kept Garner in the public eye in the sixth decade of his career. As he neared his late 70s, Garner didn’t show signs of slowing down. He returned to series televison twice more. First in 2002 for the courtroom drama ‘First Monday’, then again in 2003 for one last sitcom as he co-starred in the ABC sitcom ‘8 Simple Rules’, joining the cast as the family grandfather following the death of series star John Ritter.
Proving he still had what it takes to bring in big box office, in 2004, Garner won over yet another generation of fans for his touching role in ‘The Notebook’. In 2006, Garner made his final on-screen appearance, with a brief but pivotal role in the sleeper hit, ‘The Ultimate Gift’. In 2007, at the age of 79, Garner provided a voice for the sci-fi drama ‘Battle For Terra’. In 2010, Garner voiced superhero Shazam in an animated short from DC Comics marking the actor’s last role.
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