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 Posted:   Jul 23, 2014 - 6:32 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Riverboat ring your bell!

Fare thee well, Anabelle!

Luck is the lady that he loves the best...

(I'm sure someone will remind me the name of the lyricist which escapes me at the moment...)

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 2:48 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

I believe it was Saturday night when Garner died, and I was trolling the internet and found out about it quite quickly. I was going to tell my partner about it immediately but he was already asleep so I didn't wake him.

I had to do some errands on Sunday morning and when I got back home he was on the internet and had discovered for himself the information about Garner. He was very upset, almost in tears.

Back around 1980 he was working for Robert Altman's company as a production person and was on location in Florida for quite some time during Altman's filming of HEALTH. This now-quite-obscure picture had an all-star cast of legends the likes of which we don't see together anymore on the screen, including Carol Burnett, Glenda Jackson, Lauren Bacall, and Garner, among others.

Over the years I've heard lovely stories about all of these people from my partner, who had to work with them on various scheduling, housing, and transportation issues during the shoot. From his stories, it appeared to me that the company worked so smoothly, and the key players were so easygoing and professional that each of them had a great time in making the film, without any tantrums or demands to be seen. But I think he was most impressed with Garner.

In this period, because Garner was still quite a handsome and debonair star, he had lots of fans and admirers---most of whom were then middle-aged ladies who had grown up seeing him on television and on the screen. The film was shot at a large resort hotel in the area, right among the guests at the hotel and local fans who turned up each day. Some of the guests and fans were used as background extras while the others were kept back on the sidelines behind ropes and occasional monitoring by the staff.

My partner said that Garner would do his scenes with absolute professionalism and dedication, but when they had to break for a re-light or camera setup change, he would immediately walk over to the sidelines, answer questions that the fans had, and carry on extensive conversations with them up-close, and personally. He seemed pleased to have his picture taken with them individually and signed autographs without question. He did this until he was called back to the next setup, and seemed to enjoy the experience thoroughly.

When my partner described these real-life scenes to me it reminded me of a short "Making-Of" promo film that occasionally runs on TCM for the old 1966 MGM drama, MR. BUDDWING, which also starred Garner, along with Jean Simmons and Suzanne Pleshette. These promo films always have scenes where the documentary cameraman runs around the location trying to pick up interesting moments which happen on the set during filming. In this particular case, once again, one of these involved Garner and a group of fans hanging around the location on the streets of New York. During a break, Garner has gone out into the small crowd to mingle and sign autographs, but not everyone can see him or get near him. So he climbs up on one of the eight-foot wooden crew ladders nearby, sits on top, takes questions from the crowd and banters with them.

When I originally saw this footage I was very surprised, because most of the time the performers want to escape the set and the crowd during their breaks. Garner didn't.
He was right in there doing the fan bits with everyone. This reminded me of other discussions I've had with several stars of the Golden Age. Many of the studios trained their star performers to meet their fans and audiences in person. They'd dress them, book them around the country to promote the films, and train them to meet their audiences first-hand. It was particularly important the studio felt, for the performer to be strong and forceful in these encounters, and to take charge and to not be afraid of their fans. For the most part, if they behaved in this way the fans seemed to react with respect and not try to attack.

Perhaps the stars have changed, the world has changed, or the fans have changed, but it seems to be a much more dangerous world out there for the famed performer. Or else he/she is simply not meeting the fans in the proper way, and the meeting is today more adversarial.

In any case, Garner seemed to have the procedure down pat and, I think, from the many adulations and kind comments about Garner and his career that have appeared on the internet since his death, the fans responded to simply a wonderful and genuine guy.

I've seen many, many Garner films over the years, some with better scripts than others, some with better productions than others, but I can't remember any Garner film in which he was less than professional and interesting in whatever kind of role he tackled.

We've lost a fine performer and, perhaps more importantly, a gentleman, in a sometimes cutthroat business.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 24, 2014 - 10:08 AM   
 By:   neotrinity   (Member)



As uniquely usual, Sir M, your profoundly sage professionally-personal insights are Always in All Ways
the peerless perspective that says everything ever-lastingly apt.



What you mention probably has to do with the time period in Hollywood history Mr. Garner appeared, as
studios still performed their grooming guidance on those contracted to them, not least the Warner Bros. stable
that he eventually (in a foreshadowing of his Universal problems during his "Rockford" period) bolted from.



As for your partner's rich recollection of Mr. Garner and his colleagues on "Health", smile we've no reason
to dispute his observed admiration (which mirrors our interaction with one of the co-stars on that film,
Glenda Jackson).



As to that,



we shall NOT see his luminous like again ...

smile cool

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 27, 2014 - 4:09 AM   
 By:   mulan98   (Member)

James Garner must has been one of the first actors to reveal his human, fallible side on TV.

A wonderful documentary about the filming of GRAND PRIX by acclaimed UK tele journalist Alan Wicker, showed him loosing his cool when shooting the scene which followed the stunning F1 crash into Monaco Marina in the movie.

Wet and cold he was being kept waiting by some production hold up and he absolutely blew his top.

I admired him all the more for it.

 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2014 - 2:29 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

James Garner must has been one of the first actors to reveal his human, fallible side on TV.

A wonderful documentary about the filming of GRAND PRIX by acclaimed UK tele journalist Alan Wicker, showed him loosing his cool when shooting the scene which followed the stunning F1 crash into Monaco Marina in the movie.

Wet and cold he was being kept waiting by some production hold up and he absolutely blew his top.

I admired him all the more for it.


I already mentioned this
smile
bruce

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 29, 2014 - 12:30 AM   
 By:   mulan98   (Member)

Sorry about that Bruce. I think some of the BBC footage appears in the Blu Ray GRAND PRIX.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 29, 2014 - 1:13 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Riverboat ring your bell!

Fare thee well, Anabelle!

Luck is the lady that he loves the best...

(I'm sure someone will remind me the name of the lyricist which escapes me at the moment...)



The lyrics were by Paul Francis Webster.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 29, 2014 - 9:35 AM   
 By:   neotrinity   (Member)



 
 Posted:   Jul 29, 2014 - 4:16 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

Sorry about that Bruce. I think some of the BBC footage appears in the Blu Ray GRAND PRIX.

On the se dvd also
smile

 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2014 - 5:26 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

One of the many great things about The Rockford Files is its opening credits. I've always liked the shot of Rockford and his female passenger sharing a laugh. Is she his client? A date? Whoever she is, her reaction to whatever the hell Jimbo said or did shows the viewer the kind of easy charm his character had.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 4, 2014 - 12:10 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Thanks, Mulan!

I should have known -- in those days, Webster wrote the lyrics for EVERY TV and movie theme song!

(Including a song to promote THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, which thank God was never recorded. SHAMELESS PLUG: Details available in my book.)

 
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