Jodie Foster's character's gracelessness in the film stems from the first scene she shot, when she waited for Gibson to help her down from the stagecoach. Instead, he took her parasol and walked away. She tried to get down alone and flopped to the ground. Director Richard Donner liked it so much, he kept the shot in the film, and staged more scenes of Foster stumbling, being dumped through windows, etc.
The large rock formation in the distance behind Maverick when he is playing the "sick injun" hunted by the Russian archduke, is Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California. It's partially visible first when Maverick is attempting to ride the bicycle and again later when Maverick leaves the Native American village.
The initials of the stagecoach line in the movie are "GMC" which continued the use of GMC trucks in the Richard Donner/Mel Gibson Lethal Weapon series. GMC trucks have been driven by Gibson's character in every Lethal Weapon movie.
After Bret Maverick escapes from his botched hanging, he is shown plodding through the desert, dragging a tree limb behind him as the sand swirls around him. This mirrors a situation from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), when The Gyro Captain is chained to a log by Max, also played by Mel Gibson, and forced to find his way out of the desert.
Near the movie's beginning, Maverick asks the young man wearing the bowler hat at the poker table who claims to be a gunfighter what his name is. He answers, "Johnny Hardin," and Maverick fumbles his chips pretending to be scared, but then clowns around pointing his own gun at the youth. The real John Wesley Hardin was a notoriously fast, volatile and deadly gunfighter of the old west who shot and killed over 40 men before being shot in the back of the head and killed in 1895.
Linda Hunt and western actor Clint Walker both had cameo roles in this film, Hunt playing a magician and Walker playing a sheriff. However, the film itself ran too long, so their parts were cut from the theatrical release.
Clint Black, the "Sweet Faced Gambler", also sang the song "Good Run Of Bad Luck" on the film's soundtrack. This song plays during the first round of the Poker championship. Ironically just as the song ends Black's character is caught cheating and thrown off the boat.
Steve Kahan (dealer during the poker tournament) also plays Mel Gibson's (Martin Riggs') captain in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise. In that series, Gibson is a constant irritation for Kahan throughout. As an inside joke, near the end of the tournament you see Kahan give Gibson a terse handshake (barely acknowledging his presence) before quickly exiting the table. This happens right after Gibson's character knocks out the last player before reaching the final table. In actuality Kahan gets stuck in his chair, and as he stands up his chair comes with him. His handshake with Gibson is cut short because he wants to remove the chair. Notice Gibson's expression as he chokes back a laugh just before the scene changes.
In the final scene, where Maverick (Mel Gibson) shows his cards one at a time, this is called "Slow-rolling" - a big breach of table etiquette in poker and in modern times. Additionally, every hand played by the Commodore demonstrates 'Slow-rolling'.
After filmmakers decided to cut out the scenes involving The Magician (played by Linda Hunt), some scenes had to be reshot. Reshoots were scheduled for the weekend of March 20-21, exactly two months before the movie's premiere.
Towards the end of the movie, Bret says goodbye to Annabelle on the riverboat. This may have been a nod to the original series; in the original series theme song, some of the lyrics are: "Riverboat ring your bell. Fare thee well Annabelle."
bank robber. Glover's and Mel Gibson's characters appear to almost recognize each other. This is a reference to Lethal Weapon (1987), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), all of which were also directed by Richard Donner. During their appearance on screen, the Lethal Weapon theme song can be heard, and as Glover departs he says "I'm too old for this shit", a line his character used frequently in the Lethal Weapon series. Gibson and Glover again starred together in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the final scene Maverick has a 10-J-Q-K of Spades, even though he pulled the Ace of Spades to win the game, he could have won even with a nine of Spades, which would have given him a higher straight flush than Angel.