Jason McCullough (Garner) drifts into a frontier community that has recently become an overnight boomtown, due to a gold strike. With the price of food and lodging rising by the hour, McCullough figures he’ll be broke by noon. Fortunately, the town is desperately in need of a sheriff, a job that Jason easily acquires after demonstrating to the town council his freakish ability with firearms. The job appears to have its steep challenges, as the town is overrun with lawlessness, and the city jail has yet to install bars. Making matters worse, the new sheriff’s first act is to arrest Joe Danby (Dern) for a saloon shooting. Joe’s family, a group of ruthless ranchers led by Pa Danby (Brennan), will not sit by and allow Joe to sit in a cell without them trying something to set him free. The sheriff, assisted only by a slightly willing deputy (Elam) and the mayor’s daughter (Hackett), proves to be more than capable to handle all of it.
“Support Your Local Sheriff” is an humorous send-up of many conventional westerns, with “Rio Bravo” and “High Noon” being the most obvious candidates for parody. The twist is that James Garner’s character, equipped with a modern day sensibility and a 20th century grasp of psychology, has little problem dealing with the same kinds of situations a Gary Cooper or a John Wayne would spend an entire motion picture agonizing over. Sheriff McCullough hardly breaks a sweat as he almost toys with the evil doers. “Support Your Local Sheriff” also effectively casts a few actors against their usual type. Walter Brennan is given a rare chance to portray a villain, while long time western heavy Jack Elam shines as the town character turned deputy. Even Bruce Dern manages to play the murderous Joe to a comic effect.