Having made a career both behind the lens and the typewriter for a number of lessons, when it came time for genre veteran, Burt Kennedy to film the 1969 western comedy, "Support Your Local Sheriff!", the outcome was likely to go two ways: an end product that is comfortable and competent or perhaps an audacious experiment (much like his misguided directorial work on the first big screen adaptation of Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me"). Assembling a cast of genre veterans and a script by William Bowers, no stranger to the Western stage himself, "Support Your Local Sheriff!" would put to good use, seven years removed from "Maverick," the always welcome James Garner as a traveling man, quick with a gun and cool tempered, who by the end of the film's first act becomes the titular lawman in a truly farcical town.
Unlike its sequel-in-spirit (and cast/crew), "Support Your Local Gunfighter," "Support Your Local Sheriff!" has its share of missteps over it's speedy 93-minute runtime. Nearly five decades later, much of what doesn't work so well about the film can be attributed to other films hitting it out of the park on a more frequent basis. Narratively, "Support Your Local Sheriff!" operates on a familiar, sitcom-esque sequence based formula. The jokes and gags are more compartmentalized than even a simple three-act structure. Scenes build to some sort of payoff, eventually lulling audiences into a serene calm that isn't going to excite, but is rarely going to fail to entertain. The screenplay itself from a structural standpoint trades on genre cliches and rightfully so, but is best on its own, when it plays up the more farcical nature of the tale as highlighted in our hero's sheriff's office which must be seen to be believed.
The main attraction here is the film's star, Garner, who like he has done many times before and did many times after, exudes an indelible charisma, turning his Jason McCullough character from his own cliched roots, to a character of principle, wit, charm, and a hidden sense of "don't start none, won't get none" attitude. Garner is coasting at times on his "Maverick" days although this is in no way a bad thing, as audiences saw years later in the big-budget adaptation of that film (which owes a few things here and there to this film), that Garner's Bret Maverick is truly an iconic character. Garner is served quite well by a supporting cast featuring familiar western faces such as Jack Elam, Harry Morgan, and Walter Brennan, while Joan Hackett and a very young Bruce Dern fill the roles of romantic and physical foils respectively and competently.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is in my estimation, a huge step-up from the film's early MGM DVD releases. Colors are generally vibrant, while grain is kept to a natural realistic level. There's a slight bit of compression artifacting, but nothing glaringly obtrusive. The transfer overall, captures the late 60's western look quite admirably.
The Dolby Digital English mono audio is a perfectly serviceable presentation. Dialogue is rich and clear from start to finish. Effects sound generally realistic, while the film's lighthearted score has a bit of familiar warmth to it. English subtitles are included.
While it doesn't necessarily reinvent the wheel and in all honesty, feels a little more small-screen in overall cohesiveness, "Support Your Local Sheriff!" holds up nearly fifty years later by its charm, earnest laughs, and memorable performances. Kino Lorber's release is a nice step-up solely on the notion that the original MGM release was a non-anamorphic transfer. For fans of the western genre or Garner (is there anyone out there who can honestly say they don't like James Garner?), this is a great addition. Recommended.