Whether it was TV shows like Maverick and The Rockford Files, or movies like Grand Prix, The Great Escape, Murphy’s Romance, Space Cowboys, and The Notebook, James Garner was the quintessential All-American boy. He had good looks, a great sense of humor, and an air of the everyman.
In “The Garner Files,” James Garner, born James Bumgarner, recounts his difficult childhood growing up in Norman, Oklahoma with an alcoholic stepmother and an absent father. He left home at 14, took odd jobs, and finally was drafted into the Army. He fought and was wounded in Korea after a near death experience.
When he returned home, he went to LA and decided to try acting. He serendipitously met an old friend who had become an agent and convinced him to try acting. He got non-speaking roles in plays on Broadway and learned what he felt was the most important part of acting: listening.
He then got hired for small parts in movies, and got his first meaningful role in a movie called Sayonara with Marlon Brando. A few short years later he was starring as Bret Maverick, a huge TV western hit. The rest is history.
The Garner Files tells his up and down story in Hollywood, including his famous lawsuit against Warner Brothers (they were screwing him financially!) which helped future actors get fair deals. He also sued Universal Studios over profits on The Rockford Files, which also set a legal precedent.
Garner tells great stories about actors he worked with, including Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Steve McQueen, Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood and more. And he thought Charles Bronson was a pain in the ass!
There are funny and fascinating behind the scenes stories about his movies, including how he accidentally caught on fire shooting a race scene in Grand Prix, a movie he got because Steve McQueen turned it down.
After filming Grand Prix, Garner got the racing bug started a racing team that drove at LeMans, Daytona, and Sebring. He also participated the brutal Baja 1000!
The Garner Files is a self-deprecating, poignant, and honest look at the life of one of America’s Hollywood icons and one of my favorite actors! It’s a fun read and great addition to the Manopause Book Club!
Book review written by: Larry Pollack
Pair It With:
With a rating of 90 on Beeradvocate.com, the F5 IPA by COOP Aleworks is a great sipper from an ice cold glass.
With citrus, grapefruit and pine notes, it mimics the West Coast IPAs we all love!