What Are the Top Movies James Garner Has Been In?

Some fans may remember James Garner as a TV artist more than a film star. However, he enjoyed a successful film career, especially in the 1960s. He was considered a perfect fit for all types of roles because of Garner’s tongue-in-cheek humor and dry wit. Although James have given many hits to the industry but the western TV series Maverick earned him fame in true meaning at the end of 1950s. 

Garner was one such actor who managed to maintain his popularity for a longer span than expected. 

James Garner Background

James Garner Background

James Scott Bumgarner (James Garner) was born in April 1928. He was a well-reputed American television and film actor who was famous for his amiable nature and handsome looks. However, Garner’s roles on screen were completely opposite than who he was in real life. He often played anti-heroic characters or con-man role. In the 1950, James Garner started his career through theater. Later, he did a few TV commercials and minors roles in the films, including Towards the Unknown and The Girl He Left Behind. 

A television series Maverick changed his fate as an actor. In the 1960s, James career was at the peak as he became a part of several blockbuster movies and TV shows, like The Great Escape, 36 Hours, The Americanization of Emily, The Thrill Of It All and The Art of Love. However, the list of his success movies is a long one. Moreover, Garner did many television films, including Heartsounds, Promise, Man of the People, The Glitter Dome, My Name is Bill W, etc.

Popular Movies by James Garner

The following list features some of the significant movies of his career, either because of his performance or great storyline. They might not be Garner’s best movies, but these earned him a lot of appreciations and fame. Scroll through!

1. Maverick


Maverick made it to the number one spot for a reason, which is already discussed above. This series got him recognition and fame. Although  Garner played a similar character in the 1950s, still the audience enjoyed it thoroughly. James was an actor who knew how to control his emotions and make a scene special with mind-blowing expressions, as per character/situation demand. 

He enacted a poker player in the flick who was engaged in trading in saloons and on riverboats while traveling through the American frontier. The show consists of five seasons. It was released on 22 September 1957 and ended on 8 July 1962 on ABC. 

Role: Marshal Zane Cooper

Directed by: Richard Donner

Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Thriller, Western


Margot Kidder, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Linda Hunt, Jodie Foster, Corey Feldman and Alfred Molina

2. The Notebook

The Notebook

The next one doesn’t need a lengthy introduction at all because most of you must have seen and enjoyed it already.

The Notebook is an American romantic drama which was released in 2004, directed by Nick Cassavetes and written by Jan Sardi and Jeremy Leven. Originally, the movie is based on a 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks with the same title as film. 

The story revolves around a young couple played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling who fell in love with each other in the 1940s. Later, their love story was read from a notebook by James Garner (an elderly man). He narrated the tale to Gena Rowlands who was a fellow nursing resident and mother of Cassavetes’s (director). They love birds got separated due to different social statuses but finally found their ways back!

Role: Duke

Directed by: Nick Cassavetes

Genres: Romance,



Tim Ivey, Rachel McAdams, James Marsden, Sam Shepard, Ryan Gosling and Gena Rowlands

3. Support Your Local Sheriff!

Support Your Local Sheriff!

Also known as The Sheriff; an American comedy film Support Your Local Sheriff was released in 1969. It was directed by Burt Kennedy and starred Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan and the hunk James Garner. However, the supporting cast included Jack Elam, Harry Morgan Chubby Johnson and Bruce Dern. 

The film was a parody of the Western hero tale who disciplined a lawless frontier town. The title of the show was inspired from a 1960s popular campaign slogan Support Your Local Police. Garner played the role of an exceptionally skilled and confident gunfighter who stated that he was passing by the town on the way to Australia, where he sees Joe Danby shot dead a man in the town’s saloon. Later, McCullough (Garner) got appointed as a sheriff, and the venture begins.

Role: Jason McCullough

Directed by: Burt Kennedy

Genres: Comedy, Western, Romance

Starring: Harry Morgan, Bruce Dern, Jack Elam, Walter Brennan and Joan Hackett

4. The Great Escape

The Great Escape

It is undeniable that the escape plan of this movie was not up-to-the-mark when it was revealed initially, but once the goal was laid out; it turned out pretty clever.

In 1963, James Garner was starred in an epic American suspense war film The Great Escape. It was one of the most money-making movies of his career. Based on Paul Brickhill’s book; the film portrayed a fictionalized escape version with several compromises for its commercial appeal, like emphasizing on American involvement in the escape plan.

The Great Escape turned out as one of the blockbuster films of the year by winning McQueen award. The flick is noted for its jump and motorcycle chase scene, which is known to be one of the best stunts performed in the film industry.

Role: Hendley ‘The Scrounger’

Directed by: John Sturges

Genres: Adventure, History, War, Thriller, Drama


James Donald, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasence

5. Murphy’s Romance

Murphy’s Romance

A 1985 romantic-comedy film Murphy’s Romance is a must-watch for those who enjoy humor and romance. It was based on Max Schott 1980 novella and directed by Martin Ritt. The film includes, James Garner, Corey Haim, Sally Field and Brain Kerwin. 

The story revolved around a 33-year-old mother Emma Moriarty (Sally Field) who got divorced and moved to Arizona Town to earn by boarding and training horses. She met Murphy Jones (Garner), a widower, who happened to be a pharmacist. The romance between the two turned out into rivalry with Emma’s husband until he was proved dishonest. At the end Emma and Murphy chose to pursue a relationship.

James Garner received nomination of Academy Award in the Best Actor category for this one. Moreover, the film was nominated for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions by the American Film Institute.

Role: Murphy Jones

Directed by: Martin Ritt

Genres: Drama, Comedy, Romance

Starring: Dennis Burkley,

Sally Field, Brian Kerwin and Corey Haim

James Garner Movies to Enjoy This Weekend

Garner proved his versatile acting skills in a number of films and TV shows. From comedy films to romantic ones and thriller to suspense; Garner never failed to disappoint the audience with his extraordinary performance.

The above-listed movies are suggested for anyone who wants to watch James most defining and best moments on the big screen. 

Have you already seen any of the top 5 James Garner movies?