Gunfighters [1947]

James Garner returns for this pseudosequel to Support Your Local Sheriff, this time as a gigolo con man mistaken for a legendary killer. Escaping matrimonial entanglements, he lands in the town of Purgatory in the midst of a raging war between gold miners racing for the mother lode. In a play right out of Maverick, he quickly casts drifter Jack Elam into the gunfighter role and names himself the man's agent, selling his services to the highest bidder and pocketing a sizable commission. Garner double-talks his way through one deal after another with a wink and a smile while Elam growls and swaggers and rolls his eyes, playacting the role of the cold-blooded gunslinger like a wild-eyed clown. Suzanne Pleshette shoots up the town as Garner's romantic interest, a tomboy in buckskin with an itchy trigger finger and lousy aim, and Chuck Conners walks tall as the real bald-as-a-billiard-ball killer. Apart from the tongue-in-cheek tone and returning cast members (Elam, Harry Morgan, Henry Jones, and Gene Evans are among the familiar faces joining Garner), the film has little in common with Sheriff and never quite recaptures the clever twists and low-key hilarity, but this is a cast who knows how to deliver a gag, and Kennedy's laid-back direction keeps an even, affectionately spoofing tone throughout. --Sean Axmaker

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