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Rockford Files, The (NBC 1974-1980, James Garner, Noah Beery Jr)

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In The Rockford Files Private Detective Jim Rockford had once been imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and his special preference was for taking on cases that the police had deemed closed, he had a bit of a love hate relationship with Detective Dennis Becker because of this.

Jim’s home was a trailer based on the beach at Los Angeles and he charged $200 a day plus expenses. His ageing father (who incidentally was played by Robert Donley in the pilot episode) Rocky was often involved in Jim’s cases too. Jim also had a girlfriend for much of the show’s run, Beth Davenport, a lawyer who usually managed to help him out of trouble. Also a regular was Jim’s ex prison cellmate Angel who Jim usually managed to involve.

The final season of the show often saw Jim at loggerheads with rival P.I. Lance White (played by future Magnum star Tom Selleck), the final season was also pretty short, mainly because James Garner had tired of the role. However there were occasional TV Movie revivals of the show once it ended its prime time run.

classic quote
“This is Jim Rockford, at the tone leave your name and message and I’ll get back to you”. So began each episode of the Rockford Files (and for each episode a different answer was left on the answer machine).

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The Main Characters
Ex-con Jim Rockford may just be the coolest Private Investigator on TV. One might think that with the $200/day (plus expenses) he charges for his services Rockford might have more palatial digs, but he lives comfortably in a trailer home on the beach in Malibu with his gold Firebird parked just outside. Always ready to pick up on a case others have deemed closed, Jim’s answering machine is at the ready with tape to spare.

Rocky, Jim’s Dad
Though he doesn’t understand his son’s choice of careers, Jim’s father Rocky often gamely helps out on cases. This retired trucker is a good-natured and affable guy with a surprising talent for conning a con.

Beth Davenport
Any P.I. worth his salt has a beautiful assistant, and Jim Rockford is no exception. His girlfriend (and conveniently enough, his lawyer) Jill Davenport keeps Jim both balanced and bailed out. Interestingly, she doesn’t seem to mind that he never pays her attorney’s fees — at least, not in cash.

Angel “Evelyn” Martin
Jim and Angel originally met in prison as cellmates. Unlike Jim, this ex-con was actually guilty as charged. Just like Jim, Angel has a knack for running afoul of the law by virtue of his continued association with “the criminal element.” This is a man who always has a plan to make a buck — and the plan usually involves something illegal.

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Dennis Becker
Depending upon when you ask him, Sergeant Dennis Becker might either be amused or enraged by Jim Rockford and his unorthodox (and sometimes illegal) means of doing business. In cyclical fashion, Becker is frequently forced to choose between his love of his job and his loyalty to Jim Rockford — which often causes Becker not to love his job. To his credit, he usually finds a way to walk the narrow line which separates his roles as friend and cop.

production details
USA / NBC/Roy Huggins-Public Arts/Cherokee / 114x60m-e / 1974-80

Creators: Roy Huggins, Stephen J. Cannell / Theme Music: Mike Post, C. Carpenter / Executive Producers: Stephen J. Cannell, Meta Rosenberg

cast
JAMES GARNER as Jim Rockford
NOAH BEERY JR as Joseph “Rocky” Rockford
JOE SANTOS as Detective Dennis Becker
GRETCHEN CORBETT as Beth Davenport (1974-78)
STUART MARGOLIN as Evelyn “Angel” Martin
BO HOPKINS as John Cooper (1978-79)
TOM ATKINS as Lt Alex Diehl (1974-76)
JAMES LUISI as Lt Doug Chapman (1976-80)
TOM SELLECK as Lance White (1979-80)

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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