Director Burt Kennedy cut his teeth writing westerns in the 50s (the likes of Seven Men from Now and Comanche Station ) and he uses that formative experience in likeable comedy-westernSupport Your Local Gunfighter, a sequel to the surprise 1969 hitSupport Your Local Sheriff. Kennedy teams up once more with James Garner, an actor well versed in showing how the west was fun after his starring role in the 50s TV series Maverick .
Garner reprises the role of Latigo Smith, a conman and gambler who’s the coward of many a county. Fleeing from his demanding fiancée (Marie Windsor), he jumps train and finds himself in the remote and aptly named gold-mining town of Purgatory. The small settlement is split by two rival factions, one led by Taylor Barton (Harry Morgan), the other by Colonel Ames (John Dehner).
Latigo is mistakenly identified as a fearsome gunfighter, Swifty Morgan, and Barton despatches his daughter Patience (Suzanne Pleshette), to woo the ‘gunslinger’ over to his side. Aware of the confusion, Latigo recruits a slow cowhand, Jug May (Jack Elam), to impersonate Swifty. The deception comes under threat, however, when Latigo’s fiancée appears on the scene followed soon after by the real Swifty Morgan (Chuck Connors). Latigo needs to use all of his wiles to extricate himself from the farrago.
Support Your Local Gunfighter takes great pleasure in sending up western lore while simultaneously respecting the genre’s traditions (right down to a climactic show-down in the street). It’s also peppered with delightful characters, from Garner’s self-serving crook to Pleshette’s Calamity Jane-esque love interest. A gentle and humorous parody that paved the way for Mel Brooks’ far less subtle Blazing Saddles a few years later.
USA / 91 minutes / 1971
Writers:James Edward Grant,
James Garner as Latigo
Suzanne Pleshette as Patience
Jack Elam as Jug May
Harry Morgan as Taylor
Joan Blondell as Jenny
Marie Windsor as Goldie
John Dehner as Colonel Ames
Dub Taylor as Doc Schultz
Kathleen Freeman as Mrs. Perkins
Henry Jones as Ez
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