Like most actors, James Garner is not particularly fond of a lot of his work. As he tells CBS News ahead of tomorrow’s arrival of his autobiography The Garner Files, he rates only two of his big screen efforts as being excellent.
What is atypical however is the way the 83-year-old actor and co-author Jon Winokur have chosen to convey this information. As New York Post movie critic Lou Lumenick was one of the first to note, Garner has basically gone Leonard Maltin on himself:
This is the first movie star biography I’ve seen where an actor provides capsule reviews of all his movies. Even more unusually, Garner rates all but one of them from zero to five stars. The ones he rates most highly are The Americanization of Emily (1964) and The Notebook (2004) with five stars…
Garner is not stingy with zingers for those films he grades at the other end of the spectrum: Mr. Buddwing (1966). Zero stars. (“Worst picture I ever made. What were they thinking? What was I thinking?”).
There’s other juicy stuff in the book, like doing cocaine with John Belushi and finding Great Escape co-star Steve McQueen to be an insecure poseur. But FishbowlLA has to agree with Lumenick; Garner’s most lasting book legacy may be a review template that others can use for their own tell-alls.