Monday, May 11, 2015

James Garner Appreciation Post

STARDUST, the final book in The Starlight Trilogy - my 1950s Hollywood romance series -  is out May 26th. It is no secret that I love 1950s rebel Method actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando. As many of you know, Aidan Evans, the main male character in The Starlight Trilogy, was inspired by James Dean. Today, however, I decided to dedicate a post to another type of actor: The traditionally handsome man's man. The hero. The gentleman.

vlc record 2015 05 11 14h08m18s The Thrill Of It All   Doris Day   1963 avi

My favorite actor in this category is James GarnerIt is rare to find a man so lauded by his friends and peers, with not a bad word to be said about him by anyone. Mr. Garner is the exception. Not only was he a brilliant actor, but he was also a kind, generous, and devoted family man and colleague, according to everyone who knew him personally and professionally. 

James Garner Boys' Night Out Clip
Boys' Night Out (1962)

Many people best know James Garner as the older actor from The Notebook (2004), but in fact, he had an extensive resume before costarring in the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' popular romance novel. Mr. Garner successfully tackled a variety of genres throughout his fifty-year-plus career. Drama, comedy, westerns - you name it, he owned it. On television, he starred in Maverick and The Rockford Files. On the big screen, he played the leading man in many critically acclaimed motion pictures. Today, I will focus on my favorite guilty pleasure James Garner films: The Thrill Of It All (1963) and Cash McCall (1960).

The Thrill Of It All (1963)

Actress Doris Day costars with James Garner in The Thrill of It All (1963). The film is a typical 1960s comedy, but with a special twist: It is truly laugh-out-loud funny.

The movie is about a suburban housewife, Beverly Boyer, who is married to a well-to-do physician (Dr. Gerald Boyer) and the mother of two children. When a chance opportunity to star in a commercial for a product called Happy Soap transforms Beverly into small screen celebrity, her marriage to Gerald is threatened and hilarity ensues.

vlc record 2015 05 11 14h27m52s The Thrill Of It All   Doris Day   1963 avi

By today's standards, the film is extremely sexist. The story is based on the philosophy that a woman should feel fulfilled as a housewife and mother and not have the need to work outside the home, let alone try to establish a career. There are many lines in the film that wouldn't go over well with a modern day audience if it was released today -  such as Beverly pleading with her husband to allow her to do the commercial and promising she "won't let anything interfere with my wifely duties" if he agrees, as well as Gerald telling Beverly that a 'career' as a doctor's wife should be enough.

The Thrill Of It All Clip James Garner  1963 (2)

And, of course, there's this gem, which follows Gerald telling Beverly that any money she makes from selling soap on TV isn't allowed to be put toward the household because his salary as a physician is the only one that matters:

Beverly: "Whatever happened to my rights as a woman?"

Gerald: "I'll tell you what happened to them. They grew and they grew until they suffocated my rights as a man!"

The Thrill Of It All Clip James Garner  1963 (1)

The dialogue is so witty, and Day and Garner are so adorable together, it is impossible to be offended by the film. The Thrill Of It All is entertaining in an innocent and goodhearted way. Any questionable content merely reflects society's views at the time. As with many comedies from the 1960s, you mustn't analyze the story, but simply watch and enjoy it. 

Clip The Thrill Of It All   Doris Day   1963 avi

Cash McCall (1960)

Before Christian Grey, there was Cash McCall, a handsome, mysterious, millionaire CEO who doesn't need ropes and whips and chains in order to seduce a woman, only the gentlest of touches and looks and the most honorable intentions.

Cash McCall (1960) trailer

Cash McCall is based on the 1955 novel by Cameron Hawley about a wealthy businessman/financial maverick who purchases floundering companies, implements changes to make them successful, and then sells them for a large profit.

Cash McCall (1960) trailer (post)

In the film, Mr. McCall purchases a business called Suffolk Moulding Company to get closer to the former owner's daughter, Lory Austen, played by my favorite actress, Natalie Wood.

Cash and Lory met several years prior to the start of the film. While Lory tried to forget about Cash, assuming he'd forgotten about her, Cash eventually realizes that his overwhelming feelings for her are inexorable and he can't stay away from her any longer. 

Cash has his own airplane (which he pilots himself, obviously!) and a mansion in the mountains, among other gorgeous properties. He's charming, sincere, and irresistible, and actively pursues Lory while settling the takeover deal with her father.

Even people who aren't business minded will enjoy the film. The romantic chemistry between Garner and Wood is amazing - every scene they are in together sizzles - balancing out the capitalistic element of the film.

Diehard James Garner fans may question why I chose to single out The Thrill Of It All and Cash McCall when his vast resume contains so many other projects that better highlight his talents as an actor. Sure, these two films may not be the greatest films in existence, but I still regard them very fondly, and Mr. Garner's performances in them are still excellent. While hard-hitting dramatic motion pictures have their appeal, sometimes you merely want an escape from reality. If it's fantasy, fun, and good old-fashioned romance you desire, The Thrill of It All and Cash McCall deliver in every way.


STARDUST, the powerful conclusion to The Starlight Trilogy, is currently available for preorder from Amazon

Take advantage of the special preorder price and ensure Stardust arrives on your electronic reading device on May 26th!



Following their Academy Award wins, the film careers of Elizabeth Sutton and Aidan Evans reach stratospheric heights. Now bona fide superstars, the Hollywood press and throngs of starstruck fans await them at every turn, and the pressure to maintain their luminary status for the benefit of Starlight Studios escalates.

Away from the spotlight, Beth and Aidan's forbidden romance intensifies. Passionate nights spent together in secret stoke their mutual desires, each experience more extraordinary than the last. 

Beth is thrilled with the breakthroughs in both her professional and personal lives, but perpetual feelings of guilt and self-doubt cripple Aidan's happiness. Slowly, the burdens brought on by the fame he neither courted nor craved unleash his inner torment, releasing the demons Beth's love and support helped him cage. 

Aidan must embark on a final journey to move on from his traumatic past once and for all, but the outcome is anything but certain. It leads him down an unexpectedly dark path, from an explosive showdown with studio head Luther Mertz, to a jarring revelation about his mother’s death that could hold the key to his salvation or exile him from everyone he loves forever. 

Stardust is the powerful conclusion to The Starlight Trilogy, a story of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age.

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