Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner, RIP

In the annals of mid-20th-century popular entertainment, there are few, if any, names more worth praise than James Garner, who has just died. "Maverick." The Americanization of Emily. Support Your Local Sheriff. "The Rockford Files." Victor Victoria. Murphy's Romance. Barbarians at the Gate. The list goes on and on. You can say any number of things about the man's screen (both large and small) persona: that he was both 50s masculine and 70s sensitive at the same time, that he came off as postmodern before anyone knew what the word meant, that he managed to constantly break the fourth wall without ever, in fact, actually doing so. And you could talk about how the man in real life (an old-school Adlai Stevenson-style Democrat who persevered through a half-century of Hollywood married to the same woman, never making the tabloid pages and never really making any serious enemies) seemed, in some way, to embody that persona--though connecting James Garner with anything so serious as "embodiment" seems way too pretentious for the man. So just enjoy the following clip, and keep in mind: the music and the mood and the style of that show and its star teaches us most of what's worth remembering about a whole decade of American life, and that's more than most stars could ever claim. Requiescat in pace, Mr. Garner.

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