Also look for James Garner, Henry Fonda in this week's lineup.
Here’s our weekly overview of choice options for home-screen viewing. (Note: All times listed are Eastern.)
Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)
Arguably the most popular and definitely the funniest of James Garner’s star vehicles, this slyly amusing western spoof has the actor playing to his strengths as Jason McCullough, a dry-witted drifter who agrees to serve as lawman in a rowdy Wild West town — but only until he earns enough money for his journey to “the last of the frontier country,” way off in Australia. Garner gets strong support from stellar co-stars Jack Elam, Walter Brennan, Bruce Dern and Henry Morgan, all of whom appear to enjoy taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to characters they played perfectly straight in more serious sagebrush sagas. (Joan Hackett of Will Penny is fetchingly daft as the comedy’s gun-toting leading lady.) And the laugh count is increased exponentially by several wink-wink, nudge-nudge allusions to classics ranging from My Darling Clementine to Rio Bravo. (7:45 pm Wednesday, Encore Westerns)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
And speaking of John Ford’s classic western: Back in 2014, Anson Mount told us that before he started work on the fourth season of Hell on Wheels, he found inspiration while watching My Darling Clementine. “[Director] Neil LaBute gave me a copy,” Mount said, “and I just fell in love with it. The sets are amazing, the cinematography actually breathes, and Henry Fonda is sensational as Wyatt Earp. So, too, is Victor Mature as Doc Holliday. In fact, I think that this movie far outshines some of Ford’s other films — including Stagecoach, which felt terribly claustrophobic in its studio setting. I like to think that Ford learned that a true western cannot be shot indoors, and that's when he made My Darling Clementine.” (7:45 pm Thursday, Encore Westerns).
How the West Was Won (1963)
Turner Classic Movies has programmed this epic western as part of its day-long movie marathon honoring Debbie Reynolds, and with good reason: As Lilith, the spirited heroine who’s introduced as the teen-age daughter of hearty pioneers and gradually ages into becoming a gray-haired grandmother, Reynolds is among the true standouts in an all-star cast that also includes such notables as Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, George Peppard, Karl Malden, Eli Wallach and, in a cameo role as Gen. William T. Sherman in a segment directed by John Ford, John Wayne. Plus, she not only acts — she sings, beautifully, as well. (9:30 am Friday, Turner Classic Movies)
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
As we noted in our 50th anniversary commemoration, this fan favorite was the first film John Wayne made after his life-saving 1964 cancer operation: “Wayne remained every inch the thoroughgoing professional throughout the arduous production of The Sons of Katie Elder, determined to prove that he had indeed ‘licked the Big C’ and was back in the saddle, literally as well as figuratively. If he ever resented [director Henry] Hathaway’s demanding drill-sergeant style of directing, he chose not to hold a grudge — and, just four years later, gladly re-teamed with the director for True Grit (1969), the movie for which he won his only Academy Award for Best Actor. Some biographers have theorized that The Sons of Katie Elder was an invaluable boon to John Wayne, in that it convinced him that working hard at what he did best was the way to continue cheating death. Such armchair psychology is usually of dubious value while taking the measure of any man. But in Wayne’s case — well, maybe there is something to the notion that there’s nothing like a brush with death to reignite one’s work ethic.” (Netflix)