Maverick (1994) is a Western comedy film based on the 1950s television series of the same name, created by Roy Huggins. The film was directed by Richard Donner from a screenplay by William Goldman and features Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner.Bret Maverick is a wisecracking gambler who wants to win a poker championship - only partly for the money, but mainly to prove once and for all that he's the best at poker. However, complications keep arising. First, he starts off $3,000 short of the $25,000 entry fee for the contest. His efforts to make up the difference spark off much of the plot, as well as diversions caused by, and in the company of, three people he encounters at Crystal River: an antagonist named Angel (Alfred Molina), a young con-artist calling herself Mrs Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster), and legendary lawman Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner, who played Bret Maverick in the original TV series). The first two are also rival poker players.The three share a stagecoach (whose driver dies at full gallop), agree to help a wagon train of migrant evangelist settlers who have been waylaid by ruffians (for a fee which Maverick in the end is too big-hearted to accept), and are headed-off by a troop of Indians (who, unbeknownst to his companions, are good friends with Maverick), who agree to help Maverick collect the rest of the fee (by swindling a Russian Grand Duke). After this, though, Maverick's adventures get a little crazy, especially since somebody has good reason to make sure Maverick never makes it to the poker game...The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Actor Allusion: During Danny Glover's cameo, as he and Mel Gibson come face to face and they act like they recognize one another, the two note guitar overture from Lethal Weapon faintly plays.
Affectionate Pickpocket: Annabelle Bransford does this to Maverick twice in the same scene. The first time he notices and makes her give his wallet back, the second time he's so overwhelmed he doesn't notice and has to track her down later.
All-Star Cast: Within the many cameos. Country singers and old western-actors have supporting roles, especially during the All River's Draw Poker Championship, as Robert Fuller, Denver Pyle, William Smith or William Marshall.
Amazing Freaking Grace: Last song on the soundtrack. The three main characters sing it when their coach driver dies, for lack of anything to say about him (as they barely knew him).
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Skewered during the encounter with the tribe of Indians. Maverick speaks their language just fine (and the Indians know English) and "translates" for the rest of the group, saying that they have trespassed on sacred ground, and the Indians' gods demand a sacrifice. Meanwhile, the subtitles relate the actual conversation: the chief just wants to know if Maverick has come for the money he owes him.
Amazing Freaking Grace sung by Bret, Annabelle, and Cooper. Both Cooper and Bret sing the same wrong words to the song, which clues Annabell into the fact they are more than they seem.
Bret has a distinctive quick draw for his gun. Cooper has a near identical method. Again, Annabelle takes notice of this fact.
Chekhov's Skill: Maverick's attempts to pull a specific card out of deck. Introduced in the beginning as something he practices regularly, but it never works.
The real Chekhov's Skill is revealed in the first poker-game, namely that Maverick observes EVERYTHING that goes on at the table, and nothing gets by him. (See below). "Now what do you think I was doing for that hour? I was learning your tells..."
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: EVERYONE. Save Maverick and his father. It's odd when the con man is the one who is constantly having to deal with cheats who are his friends.
Con Men Hate Guns: Played with. Maverick may be quick on the draw, but he rarely fires his gun, and even then, he's more likely to shoot a gun out of his opponent's hand.
Fastest Gun in the West: Maverick shows off his quick-draw skills in a poker game. The man he faces off against is named "Johnny Hardin", AKA the Real Life outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Afterward, Hardin acknowledges that Maverick is fast.
For the Evulz: It's revealed that Brett just enjoys the con game. When Annabelle robs them of a quarter of a million dollars, Brett doesn't mind. He states the fun is in getting the money back. Which makes sense, since Maverick seems to have little need for money.
Honor Before Reason: When Maverick realized they were playing with a fixed deck, he wanted a new shuffle, new deck, and new dealer. This is despite him understanding The Magic Poker Equation and the fix could work in his favor.
Gambit Pileup: Angel and the Commodore vs. the Commodore and Cooper vs. Cooper and Maverick.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Chief Joseph to Maverick after Maverick was hunted by the Russian Duke with real bullets and not the bow and arrows agreed upon.
Gratuitous French: When Joseph goes to meet the Russian duke, he starts speaking in French, which was the second language of the Russian court.
Joseph: Ah bonjour bonjour monseigneur, comment allez-vous? The Russian Duke: C'est la langue des missionnaires. Parle anglais.
Gun Twirling: Maverick uses his flashy gunplay largely as part of a double-bluff. The twirling makes him look capable, which he subverts by pretending that he can't actually shoot when he's pretty good when it comes down to it. It doubles as foreshadowing as well; at the tournament, we see that Maverick and Cooper's gun twirling is exactly the same.
Holy Ground: Invoked by Maverick when Joseph's tribe shows up. Maverick communicates to them in their own language but makes it sound like they're angry because his party trespassed on sacred ground. He makes up the Indian Bravery Test as an excuse to go with them, which you pass by not making a sound as both your hands are chopped off.
Maverick: I can't quite place your accent. Where in the South are you from? Mrs. Bransford: Ever been to Mobile? (pause) That's where I'm from. Maverick: Mobile, Alabama? Hell, I've been there. I'll bet we know the same people. You start. Mrs. Bransford: I've tried so hard to forget that place.
Injun Country: Lampooned. Joseph, Maverick's Indian friend, and his tribe play the role to the hilt... and when Maverick asks what all the drums and other such nonsense are about, Joseph explains that they're bilking a wealthy Russian duke who came to America wanting a stereotypical "Wild West" experience. Also lampshaded when Jacob says if they get forced to move again he's going to find some godforsaken swampland that nobody wants in the hopes people will leave them the hell alone.
Legacy Character: Played with. Cooper is actually Maverick's father, played by James Garner, who played the original Maverick on TV. So if the movie is a continuation of the show, it means the name "Maverick" is synonymous with conning and card-sharking.
Like My Pappy Always Said...: Maverick enjoys saying things his Pappy told him when young. Turns out he has changed most of them because they're so boring the way his Pappy said them. His Pappy is not amused by this.
The Magic Poker Equation: Played with. Subversion: Maverick is one card short of a royal flush, from which he deduces that the deck is stacked. He wins the game by getting someone other than the crooked dealer to deal him that one card.
This requires some clarification, Specifically how Maverick knew where the Ace of Spades was located. (See Chekhov's Skill above) Nothing happens at the table that Maverick does not notice, as Maverick is shown intensely watching the shuffle while it is happening. When the final game begins the dealer takes out a new deck and throws away the top and bottom cards (the manufacturer cards) and begins to shuffle. The particular way the dealer shuffles the deck, the top card never leaves the top. Once he is done shuffling the dealer offers the deck to Angel to cut. Angel smacks the deck (declining to cut) and the dealer begins to deal, notably Maverick notices that he is dealing from the bottom. Being a lifelong gambler at card games, Maverick knows that every deck begins Ace, Deuce, Tray, starting with the suit of Spades. Therefore because the top card is always the Ace of Spades in a new deck (after the manufacturer card which was thrown away), and the shuffling never saw the top card moved from its position on top, Maverick knew the Ace of Spades was on top. Hence why he had the dealer put down the deck, and asked Angel to deal stating plainly "One from the top will be sufficient." Maverick even demonstrated some Heroic Spirit beforehand, when he realized he had the game won, and gave the others a fair chance by requesting a new deck, dealer and shuffle, which was denied.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Maverick refuses to confirm whether he cheated drawing the Ace of Spades to complete the Royal Flush by saying it was "magic". His father smiles, and it's evident it doesn't really matter in the long run.
Coop: See, my feeling is that if there weren't any women none of us would be here. Maverick: What kind of sense does that make? If there were no men, we wouldn't be here either. Coop: Are you mocking me? Maverick: Don't get ruffled. Let's just say I was agreeing with you in a totally unusual way.
Playing Card Motifs: Certainly expected in a movie based on poker. During a scene where Maverick tries to choose which card he draws from a deck, he picks the Queen of Hearts - a foreshadowing of his romantic encounter with Annabelle Bransford.
Remake Cameo: James Garner, the original Bret Maverick, plays Maverick's dad in the movie.
Which is also a bit of a Tomato Surprise, as it's not revealed until the end of the movie, though both know it (which puts the Take My Hand example below in a bit of a different light. In fact, it puts almost all of their interactions in a different light.)
Although most of it is parodied just to mess with Anabelle. Really he just follows the horseshoe prints.
Shout-Out: Danny Glover plays a bank robber who mutters "I am too old for this...". The scene is a Casting Gag played as Actor Allusion; Mel Gibson, Glover's buddy cop in that franchise, recognises the voice of the bank robber and pulls down his mask, leading the two of them to share a moment (complete with Lethal Weapon musical leitmotif) before shaking their heads and walking away.
Take My Hand: Maverick accidentally falls over the edge of a cliff but barely manages to hold onto the edge. Marshal Zane Cooper offers to help him, but Maverick refuses because he despises Cooper. Maverick almost falls to his death and changes his mind, begging for help, and is pulled to safety.
Tomato Surprise: Maverick and Cooper are both fully aware that they're actually father and son.
Tonto Talk: The Russian duke insists that Joseph speak this way, to Joseph's great exasperation.
Wham Line: Cooper finally exasperated at Maverick's constant misquoting of his father - revealing Coop is his father.