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THE LONG SUMMER OF GEORGE ADAMS

For Hicksflicks.com, July 18, 2014

Said to be one of James Garner's personal favorites of his own films, "The Long Summer of George Adams" (1981) is a TV movie that aired on NBC and then seemed to drop off the edge of the Earth.

Garner put his "Rockford Files" production team to work for this one, including his friend Stuart Margolin, who played Angel on "Rockford" and here is behind the scenes as the film's director.

The result is a mostly charming slice of Americana about a small town steam-engine expert in 1952 Oklahoma whose job becomes obsolete when the railroad begins an upgrade to diesel engines. He already has a number of part-time positions around town (sheriff, night watchman) but still barely makes ends meet, supporting his wife, their two sons and her young sister.

The result is a midlife crisis observed in low-key episodes, whose only misstep is an unfortunate adulterous fling with the town floozy (Anjanette Comer).

Garner's wife is played by Joan Hackett, sweet and affecting in a role quite different from the bumbling ditz she played opposite Garner in "Support Your Local Sheriff."

"The Long Summer of George Adams" is a gentle, somewhat tart but ultimately warm effort.

               

This is one of those TV movies that, following an initial airing and a rerun a year later, was locked in an archival vault and forgotten. There are a lot of really good TV movies from the 1960s, '70s and '80s that seem to have disappeared.

                           

And that's another reason to give hurrahs to Warner Archive, which has been the leader in retrieving forgotten movies to give them new life on DVD with its innovative manufacture-on-demand website. Not just theatrical films from the far past but also TV movies like this one.