Maverick (1994) Poster



James Garner, who plays Zane Cooper, was the original Bret Maverick in Maverick (1957).
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Jodie Foster's character's gracelessness in the film stems from the first scene she shot, when she waited for Mel 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 that he kept the shot in the film, and staged more scenes of Foster stumbling, being dumped through windows, etc.
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--by a man he had hired to kill someone else--and killed in 1895.
Steve Kahan (the dealer during the poker tournament) also plays Mel Gibson's (Martin Riggs') captain in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise. Gibson's character 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 got 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 film cuts to a different shot.
The $25,000 needed to enter the poker tournament in the 19th century would be approximately $600,000 in 2004 terms.
Leo Gordon, who plays one of the poker players in the first card scene, wrote four episodes of the original "Maverick" (1957) television series in the 1960-61 season, and made five guest appearances as Big Mike McComb, between 1957-59.
In the stagecoach sequence, stuntman Mic Rodgers (doubling for Mel Gibson) had to go under the coach and get up at the back. This is a direct nod to legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt's similar stunt in Stagecoach (1939). By coincidence, Second Unit Director Terry Leonard, a former stuntman himself, performed this same stunt in the truck chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Annabelle keeps calling Bret, "Bert." This is a reference to an episode of the television series, in which a girlfriend of Bret's kept calling him Bert.
The steamship "Lauren Belle" is named for producer Lauren Shuler Donner, wife of Richard Donner. She also appears as the bathhouse maid. Zane Cooper (James Garner) calls her "Mrs. D" as she is leaving.
This was the second time Jodie Foster and James Garner appeared in the same movie. The first was One Little Indian (1973).
The name "Zane Cooper" is taken from author Zane Grey, and actor Gary Cooper, both of whom worked almost exclusively in the Western genre.
Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster became close friends after the making of this film. She was also considered to play Gibson's love interest again in Conspiracy Theory (1997), but she turned it down to make Contact (1997), and the role went to Julia Roberts. Both Mel and Jodie still love to play poker. They worked together again on The Beaver (2011), which was directed by Foster.
Another "Lethal Weapon" reference arises when Annabelle shrinks Maverick's "Lucky Shirt" in the same way that Leo shrinks Riggs' shirt in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989).
The initials of the stagecoach line in the movie are "GMC", a reference to General Motors Corp., whose trucks have been driven by Gibson's character in every "Lethal Weapon" movie.
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, CA. It's partially visible first when Maverick is attempting to ride the bicycle, and again later when he leaves the Native American village.
Clint Black, the "Sweet Faced Gambler", also sang the song "Good Run Of Bad Luck" on the 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.
This film is loaded with cameos by famous country singers, such as Carlene Carter (playing a waitress on the riverboat), Hal Ketchum (bank robber), Vince Gill (spectator at the poker game), Clint Black (gambler who gets thrown off the boat for cheating), Waylon Jennings and Kathy Mattea (two people with guns on the riverboat).
In the final scene 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".
Numerous stars of classic television westerns play in the poker tournament: Denver Pyle from The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955), William Smith from Laredo (1965), Doug McClure and James Drury from The Virginian (1962), Henry Darrow from The High Chaparral (1967), and Robert Fuller from Wagon Train (1957) and Laramie (1959).
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 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.
Gary Ross had been brought in to re-write the scenes involving The Magician, a character played by Linda Hunt, which were ultimately cut out of the movie after test screenings.
The next project in which Jodie Foster was to be involved in after this film was an action thriller titled "Trackdown". Described as "Female Die Hard inside English Channel tunnel", the plot would have been about Foster's character, who was an engineer, trying to stop terrorists from blowing up the Channel tunnel with a runaway train. Foster. however, walked away from the film, and although some attempts were made to re-write the script (Kevin Jarre did a re-write), find another actress for the role or change the main character into a man, the project was eventually canceled.
Bret keeps a $100 bill pinned to the inside of his coat pocket for emergencies. In the television series, Bret kept a $1000 bill pinned to the inside of his coat for emergencies.
Mel Gibson had special lessons to learn how to draw a gun from a holster.
Alice Cooper had a cameo as the town drunk, but his segment was cut.
Paul Brinegar, the stagecoach driver who dies "on the road", was also the character Wishbone the cook on the television series Rawhide (1959), which starred Clint Eastwood as "Rowdy Yates".
The role of Marshal Zane Cooper was first offered to Paul Newman, who turned it down.
During the scene where Bret confronts the fake Indians lying drunk around the campfire, one of them calls him "Bart". Bart was the name of Bret's brother on the original television series.
Meg Ryan was the original choice for Annabelle.
Cameo: Corey Feldman as one of the bank robbers in Danny Glover's gang. Feldman worked with Richard Donner on The Goonies (1985).
Corey Feldman claimed in a Yahoo interview that Richard Donner originally intended for Feldman to play Johnny Hardin, but this was vetoed by Mel Gibson after an audition. Feldman was given the role of a bank robber instead.
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."
Linda Hunt and 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.
During Marshal Cooper's explanation of the rules at the beginning of the tournament, he pulls out his own guns and claims that they're the only weapons allowed on the ship. When putting them away, he drops one but smoothly continues talking while someone hands him his dropped gun. This was not scripted. James Garner dropped the prop by accident but kept acting, resulting in a funny moment that the director kept in the final cut.
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The band playing in the background on the riverboat is Restless Heart.
After the producers decided to cut out the scenes involving The Magician (played by Linda Hunt), some scenes had to be re-shot. Re-shoots were scheduled for the weekend of March 20-21, exactly two months before the movie's premiere.
Final film of Dub Taylor.
Final film of Leo Gordon.
Mel Gibson assumes the title character originated by co-star James Garner in Maverick (1957) and a slew of miscellaneous episodes from related television series.
Dub Taylor, for whom this was the final film before his death, has a brief cameo during the initial poker scene. He also was a poker dealer in a short scene in The Cincinnati Kid (1965).
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Many of the cards used in the movie contain letters (A, K, Q, J) or numbers (2-10) denoting their value. Playing cards of this time period did not have letters or numbers. They only displayed the correct number of the suit's symbol or a picture of the facecard.
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After writing the script, William Goldman offered the role of Zane Cooper to friend and collaborator Paul Newman. Newman loved the script and agreed to the film, but the producers lowballed his asking price; he reluctantly turned down their offer.
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Final film of William Marshall.
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Jodie Foster's character is named Annabelle, which is also the name of her character in the Disney film Freaky Friday (1976).
Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer were also considered to play Annabelle Bransford, in case Jodie Foster wasn't available.
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Jodie Foster's part as Annabelle Bransford, closely resembles Diane Brewster's character, Samantha Crawford, whom she played twice during the first season of the original television show. They both are con artists, and they both have a phony southern accent.
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The first film released on Kodak's EXR 2386 polyester print stock.
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When Maverick sees the hawk, he says to Annabelle, "You know what that hawk means? Absolutely nothing." This is a sly reference to Ladyhawke (1985) which was also directed by Richard Donner and produced by his then future-wife, Lauren Shuler.
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In Phil Collins' autobiography "Not Dead Yet" he says he was considered for an unspecified part in the film, but that he didn't get the role.
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Final film of Denver Pyle.
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James Garner and James Coburn previously appeared together in The Great Escape (1963).
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Danny Glover: As a bank robber. Glover's and Mel Gibson's characters appear to almost recognize each other. This is a reference to the "Lethal Weapon" film franchise, 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" franchise.
Margot Kidder: Margret Mary, one of the pilgrims robbed of their mission money. Kidder starred as Lois Lane in Richard Donner's Superman (1978).
Vilmos Zsigmond: The film's cinematographer appears as landscape painter Albert Bierstadt.
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Reba McEntire: An extra in the opening poker scene of the movie.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

FORESHADOWING: Throughout the movie, when Mel Gibson's character says "my pappy always used to say", the camera cuts to James Garner rolling his eyes. At the end of the film, Garner is revealed to actually be Gibson's father.
In the final scene Maverick has a 10-J-Q-K of spades; even though he pulled the ace to win the game, he could have won even with the nine of spades, which would have given him a higher straight flush than Angel.
After lending Mrs. Bransford money to join the poker tournament, Maverick says, "if by some small chance you should happen to win, I will be expecting 50%," to which Mrs. Bransford confusingly replies, "Well, then, I'll be expecting 50% of your winnings, Mr. Maverick." At the end of the movie Mrs. Bransford ends up making off with 50% of Maverick's winnings.
In the opening credits, there is an ace of spades flipped overrun the table, foreshadowing the card in the big poker game Maverick needed to win the big game.
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