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Laramie Movie Scope:
Support Your Local Sheriff

Clean western comedy for the whole family

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1969) As last words are spoken over the grave of a recently arrived and suddenly deceased interloper, Miss Prudy Perkins (Joan Hackett), the mayor's daughter, recognizes gold nuggets at the bottom of the hole, leading to a gold rush. With its new notoriety and need for someone to stand up to the ornery Danbys, the town's council of Mayor Olly Perkins (Henry Morgan), who also owns the general store, two businessmen, and the representative of the mines, advertises for a new sheriff (the previous three having been killed or scared off).

Just about this time a stranger, enticed by the opportunity of doing some prospecting, stops for a drink at the saloon where he witnesses Joe Danby (Bruce Dern) shoot dead another man. After further observing the general lawlessness of the community, he applies for the position of sheriff. Asked by the mayor to provide his qualifications for the job, a thoroughly self-confident Jason McCullough (James Garner) demonstrates his expert marksmanship.

Directed by Burt Kennedy, a clean (notice how nearly everyone has white teeth and wears new clothing and how the buildings and signage are so tidy, just as one might expect to find on a movie studio's backlot) western comedy for the whole family, written and produced by William Bowers.

Accepting an offer of $150 a month, Jason follows the mayor over to his house (free room and board) where Olly explains that his daughter's "dear departed mother" didn't die: "No, she just departed." Up in a tree Jason notices Prudy, whom he had seen earlier in the midst of a muddy street brawl, in colorful longjohns: "You're the strangest girl I ever met."

After making Jake (Jack Elam), formerly a bum cleaning stables, his deputy, Jason arrests Joe for murder, putting him inside a cell of the well-appointed jail without bars. Nevertheless, the sheriff convinces his none-too-bright prisoner to remain as if locked up.

Gunslingers come gunning for the quick-draw lawman. Not wanting the town to become too peaceful for churches and women's committees and the end of Madame Orr's whorehouse, Mayor Perkins is counting on Jason's assurance that he's just passing through on his way to Australia.

Into town ride Pa Danby (Walter Brennan) and his other two sons, Luke and Tom, intending to spring Joe from jail. On a romantic outing, Jason and Prudy argue over whether his saying now would be a good time to leave town would be mature (Prudy's position) or cowardly (his) before the Danbys return with more men.

At a public meeting where the majority votes with the mayor not to get involved in the approaching conflict, Prudy gets tossed out for attempting to get support for her local sheriff; and when Jason expresses umbrage at her accurate aim with her rifle, felling two of Danby's gang, she answers him: "I only know one way to shoot and that's to kill." You may not die laughing, but you're sure to get off a couple of chuckles.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)