|Index||3 reviews in total|
This is the first entry having the look and feel of the classic series. Instead of a drifter in cotton shirt, Bret's a dude gambler the entire time. What's more, he's more laid back, showing the easy charm that defined the character. The plot too is vintage. Bret teams up with a shifty other dude Dandy Jim Buckley in an effort to grab $40,000 in stolen money and get revenge on rival gambler Cadiz who tried to drown Bret. In a sparkling performance, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Buckley, matches Bret charm for charm. But the trouble is he lacks any sense of ethics short of killing, so Bret has to watch his back the whole time he tries to outwit the clever Cadiz. It sounds complicated, but makes for a number of slyly amusing situations. Then too, add man- mountain Mike Lane as a backwoods innocent and frontier tree-hugger, along with boisterous saloon-keeper (read brothel madam) Joan Shawlee, and you come up with an assorted mix of colorful characters, all bouncing off one another in entertaining fashion. My one complaint-- Bret should have used a trick in the prize fight sequence. It's played too straight to go with the rest of the entry. Nonetheless, this one shows why the series was able to separate itself from the rest of the TV pack.
This is a sharp and hilarious episode that has a number of unexpected
plot twists and great acting. There's a double plot here. The first
plot involves Maverick winning at poker against nasty gambler Tony
Cadiz. Cadiz has Maverick beat up and tossed in a river, and steals his
money back. We wait in anticipation for Maverick to get his revenge.
The second plot involves Maverick meeting up with an old friend, a
conman named Dandy Jim Buckley. Buckley cons Maverick into helping him
retrieve some buried stolen money.
One of the delights of Maverick is seeing actors noted for other roles playing quite different characters. Here Efrem Zimbalist Jr. known as the strait laced detective in "77 Sunset Strip" and even straighter laced FBi Agent in "The F.B.I." plays the conman Dandy Jim Buckley. He is surprisingly good at it, straddling the borderline between somewhat charming and miserably deceitful. The good thing here is that Bret Maverick is onto him and can easily frustrate his designs. Maverick helps him to recover $40,000 in stolen money, but then forces him to turn it in for an honest $4,000 reward.
Also making the episode enjoyable is sexy comedian Joan Shawlee. Shawlee is best remembered as the orchestra leader Sweet Sue in "Some Like it Hot," but she was all over television in the 1950's and 1960's, notably a number of times on "the Abbott and Costello Show," "the Betty Hutton Show" and "the Dick Van Dyke Show." Joan was one of the few women who could act sexy and funny at the same time. Here she plays "Madame Pompey" who seems to really be a brothel madame, although the tame 1950's television moral code has to make her just the leader of a group of showgirls. What is nice about her character is that she doesn't develop the expected love attachment with Maverick, but falls for another minor character, a gentle nature-loving muscle man. Shawlee brightens every scene that she is in, which was true of just about any appearance she made on television.
This may be the funniest of the early episodes. Don't miss it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Stampede" introduces Dandy Jim Buckley. Roy Huggins wanted to contrast Buckley, an all out grafter, with the gentle grafter Maverick. Dandy Jim and Bret are alike except that Dandy has no conscience at all. They trail a crooked gambler to Deadwood, where he showcases a bare-fisted fighter called Battling Krueger. Bret and Dandy chance upon a gentle giant named Noah on the trail and talk him into fighting Krueger for $1000. When Noah backs out, Bret fights and wins by attacking the Battler's belly. I was intrigued with Madame Pompey and googled her. She was Joan Shawlee. She was 5 foot 9 and had great legs. She died in 1987 at age 61.
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