Crusty old General Eakins summons all his living relatives to his ranch to assess who'll inherit his fortune. Bret Maverick fills in for obnoxious ne'er-do-well nephew Homer Eakins, a ... See full summary »


(as Leslie H.Martinson)


(teleplay), (story)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Homer Eakins
General Eakins
Theona Bryant ...
Cousin Hope
Cousin Millard
Mrs. Knowles
George O'Hanlon ...
Cousin Elmo
Edith Leslie ...
Cousin Elizabeth
Charles Bateman ...
Cousin Jeff
Cousin Lonnie
Cousin Seeby (as Harry Harvey Sr.)
Dan Sheridan ...
Cousin Pliney (as Jimmy Horan)


Crusty old General Eakins summons all his living relatives to his ranch to assess who'll inherit his fortune. Bret Maverick fills in for obnoxious ne'er-do-well nephew Homer Eakins, a snooty painter, while Eakins pretends to be Maverick. The General takes a liking to the "new, improved" Homer Eakins, who the General hasn't seen since Homer was a tyke. Then the relatives start being killed, one by one... Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Western





Release Date:

16 March 1958 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This time roles are reversed as Jack Kelly makes an uncredited cameo in a vignette at the beginning of the episode to introduce a Bret-only story. He would also provided the episode's voiceover narration. See more »


In the opening scene, a lone horseman, presumably Bret Maverick, seen riding in the barren Wyoming Territory landscape, bears no relationship in looks and outfit to Bret Maverick as he is met at Black Fire Ranch. As Maverick (probably a stand-in) rides into the ranch, the horse he is riding changes from a dark horse with dark tail to a dark horse with flowing white tail and white fetlocks. As James Garner dismounts at the ranch house, the horse is once again dark with dark tail and fetlocks. See more »


[first lines]
Bart Maverick: [to the audience] Hello. Glad to see you with us again. This week's intriguing story takes us to an isolated ranch deep in the Wyoming territory for a tale of mystery and violence. It's called Black Fire.
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User Reviews

One Big, Not-So-Happy Family
8 August 2008 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Excellent entry that combines mystery, suspense, and a healthy dose of sly and not-so-sly humor. The likable Bret is enlisted by the dislikeable Homer (Hans Conreid) to pose as him at a family get-together where ornery old skinflint Will Wright (who else) will decide who gets his sizable fortune. The family stacks up as an odd assortment of characters who nonetheless disappear one by one, narrowing down the number of possible heirs as they gather around the dinner table. So which one is the culprit. (You may be able to spot the show's very last line coming from a mile away since it's a movie cliché.)

The story is sort of like the old Agatha Christie who-dun-it Ten Little Indians transposed to the American frontier. Fine script with lots of sharply humorous dialogue, especially from professional cynic Conreid who could curl his lip with the best of them. Seeing him in a Western takes some getting used to, but then he does stay in type as an acidly eccentric artist. Getting such an unWestern-type actor was both risky and a brilliant touch that all in all makes the episode.

Note also the several fleeting innuendos that apparently were too quick for the censors. Actually Bret (Garner) has a rather secondary role as the colorful family characters share in the limelight. This may not be the best Maverick "Western" since time and place are inessential to the plot. Nonetheless, it's one of the most entertaining.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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