Donner’s 1994 Maverick
Maverick is a 1994 Western comedy film directed by Richard Donner. It based on the original 1950s television series of the same name, created by Roy Huggins. The film adaptation was written by William Goldman. Maverick stars Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Graham Greene, James Coburn, and Alfred Molina, and also features a significant number of cameo appearances by various well-known Western movie actors, country music singers, and a variety of other celebrities.
The film was successful commercially, raking in over US $180 million at the box office, and received a favourable critical reception. The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design for costume designer April Ferry.
The Maverick Story
Maverick tells the story of the old West in America, and follows the life of gambler Bret Maverick, played by Mel Gibson, on his adventures and misadventures on the way to a major five card poker tournament. His companions on these adventures include another con artist, Annabelle Brandsford, played by Jodie Foster, and lawman Marshal Zane Cooper, played by James Garner.
The story begins with Bret Maverick riding into the fictional town of Crystal River to collect money that is owed to him. He is short US $3 000 of the US $25 000 entry fee to the poker tournament. It is in Crystal River that he meets Angel, a bad-tempered gambler played by Alfred Molina, Mrs Annabelle Brandsford, and Marshal Zane Cooper.
Brandsford, Cooper, and Maverick share a stagecoach. Their driver dies at the reins, which sets them into a realm of mischievous adventures, including being captured by Indians and various cons in which Maverick tries to gain the money he still needs for the tournament.
They make it to the tournament in time, and Maverick, Brandsford, Angel, and Commodore Duvall, played by James Coburn, land up in the finals, with Maverick winning the final round. Angel, however, is enraged and draws his gun, but he and his companions are gunned down by Cooper and Maverick. Maverick should have received a grand prize of US $500 000, but Cooper steals it and escapes. Some duels later, Maverick steals the money back, and it is finally revealed that Maverick and Cooper are, in fact, father and son, and have conspired all along.
However, all is not well yet, as Brandsford comes in and steals the money from them. Maverick tells Cooper that he had already hidden half the money, and he purposefully allowed Brandsford to steal the other half so that he could hunt her down.
Production of Maverick
A large part of Maverick’s actions takes place on a steamboat. This is where the whole poker tournament is set. The steamboat in the film is called Lauren Belle, but it is actually the Portland, the last remaining sternwheel tugboat in the United States. At the time of production, the boat belonged to the Oregon Maritime Museum in Portland. It was decorated quite heavily to make it look like a Mississippi-style gambling boat, which included adding two decorative chimneys, which used artificial smoke to look real. The boat was then transported to the Columbia River in Washington State, where filming took place towards the end of 1993.