"Maverick" Rope of Cards (TV Episode 1958) Poster

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Fascinating display of logical thinking
FlushingCaps15 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've been going through my DVD set of the first season of this series, seeing most episodes for the first time ever. Tonight's episode, Rope of Cards was one of the best so far, to me.

Although the young man accused of murder was planning on getting married, there were no romantic scenes in the episode. And, for once, Bret Maverick was never arrested, nor had anyone point a gun at him. While he was observed playing poker, we never saw him win a big hand, or lose one. In other words, everything we are used to seeing in this series, was absent from this episode.

At the beginning we see two guards outside a ranch house, we hear two shots and see a man come out. The guards capture him. He protests that he killed the man inside because that man first fired at him. Next we see the sheriff entering a saloon to get Maverick because the accused asked for him, thinking he could be a witness for him, regarding things that happened earlier that day.

Bret couldn't help him as a witness, which leads to the trial. As we enter the courtroom, we see two familiar faces to TV fans of the day. The defense lawyer is Will Wright, known for various guest roles. Will was older than lots of actors and had the kind of face destined to make him usually cast in mean old man roles, such as playing Ben Weaver, the cantankerous department store owner on The Andy Griffith Show, in a few episodes.

Sitting beside Maverick was an even more familiar face, Ozzie Nelson's doctor friend, later more famous as Sam Drucker on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, actor Frank Cady.

He winds up on the jury with Bret and the bulk of the show dealt with the jury deliberations. It was only a bit like Twelve Angry Men, although there was the initial vote of 11-1, and you can guess who the lone holdout was.

Like the famous movie, Bret used logic in getting jury members to think about various aspects of the case, getting them to rethink some of the facts and how things didn't really add up the way they seemed at first.

He actually started his argument by making a bet with a fellow juror, one that seemed like a sure loser bet. The only troubling aspect of the show was that they didn't make this a two-hour special and had to have things proceed a bit too quickly here.

I'm trying not to give away anything that would spoil the fun for someone soon to watch this. This episode was a sheer delight to watch for me, which is why I gave it a rare 10 rating, something I don't do very often.
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Bret Maverick as "Juror #8"
dcbellomy5 July 2012
I figure any TV show I remember as vividly after more than half a century is worth praising, if only for a lesson in logic as compelling as, and more important in life as well as cards than, the equally memorable but obsolete rule "according to Hoyle" cited in Episode 3. What I didn't recognize as a ten-year-old watching the episode when it first aired in January 1958 was its amusing riff on Twelve Angry Men. The source material cited is a story by the Western writer Robert Ormond Case, presumably "Expert Witness," first published in Collier's in February 1937. However, if I'm right about the story that the scriptwriter R. Wright Campbell used as a springboard, the crucial confrontation for Case occurs on the witness stand in the courtroom, not in the jury room. That makes the debt to Twelve Angry Men, which hit the nation's screens in April 1957, all the more likely, since the plot set-up bears more resemblance to Reginald Rose's Studio One and film script than to the Case short story (inconsequential spoiler alert): a lone hold-out for a not-guilty verdict gradually convinces 10 other jurors to join him before he has to confront a lone hold-out in the opposite direction. I should add, though, that there are crucial differences in tone and message that speak volumes about the position of Maverick vis-à-vis other excellent television Westerns, notably the often high-minded CBS entries Gunsmoke and Have Gun – Will Travel. While Matt Dillon or Paladin would have injected pointed homilies about the proper rational and unbiased uses of individualism along the lines of Rose's Twelve Angry Men scripts, the Maverick script ends with a card trick (the aforementioned "lesson in logic") and a laugh. Not necessarily a better or worse choice, just a different one.
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Twists Differently Than Typical Maverick Episode
DKosty12312 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This episode gets Maverick away from the poker table and onto a jury in a murder trial. True to character Maverick then proceeds to get betting into the deliberations for a young man's life. While this one is not a typical tv episode, it is not a 1950's story either. That's because it is never made clear who the killer really is, just whose innocent.

When the jusry starts it's session at the end of the trial, it looks like there is going to be a guilty verdict. Then Maverick starts planning doubt by making a bet. Then he starts going over the facts from the trial. There are some character actors who became more famous after this episode. Meanwhile, this series is busy making James Garnar a start.

This was a top Warner Brothers series in the late 1950's and early 1960's. When you check out one episode like this, it is easy to see why. "Living on Jacks and Queens" says it all, but this one is more about using money and a deck of cards to save an innocent man's life.
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Jury Duty
bkoganbing11 August 2018
This was a strange episode for Maverick. While in a small western town a murder is committed. Young William Reynolds is accused of shooting down Tol Avery a wealthy rancher from whom he tried to borrow money. James Garner is dragooned into jury duty even though he was witness to some of the events that led up to the killing. Then again in small settlements that probably was a regular occurence.

Will Wright is Reynolds defense attorney and he has a nasty rivalry going with prosecutor Hugh Sanders. Then that aspect of the plot is just dropped and we get a 12 Angry Men situation with Garner as the holdout who gradually convinces the others but for Emile Meyer that there is some very reasonable doubt that this was coldblooded murder.

It was like two different stories, one dropped in favor of the other. Made it rather disconcerting.
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