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Film / Maverick

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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. A soundtrack for the film, released on Atlantic Records, featured mostly original compositions by contemporary Country Music artists, and an all-star rendition of "Amazing Grace". One cut from the album, Tracy Lawrence's "Renegades, Rebels, and Rogues", was a minor radio hit in 1994, while Clint Black's #1 hit "A Good Run of Bad Luck" (also from his then-current album No Time to Kill) used movie clips in its music video.

This movie contains examples of:

  • 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.
  • Affably Evil: The older, second cardsharp who gets tossed overboard. He's polite and doesn't hold it against Cooper.
    • Also: Commodore Duvall. The reveal that he orchestrated Angel's actions and Cooper's theft of the money come as a surprise. Even when he tells Cooper he plans to kill him and keep the money for himself, he's jovial about it.
  • 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.
    • Maverick wrongly believes she did it a third time when he left to go with the Indians, stealing his $22,000 despite the fact that (as far as she knew) he was going to get his hands chopped off. Though it turns out she never took the money, we later learn that she did manage to swipe his cufflinks. We also learn that Maverick swiped her necklace during one of the kisses.
  • All There in the Manual: The shooting script has additional elements that didn't make it into the final cut, including the Commodore outright sarcastically confessing he expects to win the Tournament.
  • 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). Two of them getting the lyrics wrong the same way is a plot point.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with Maverick and Cooper making plans to go after Annabelle and get the money she stole from them back. Given that they are looking forward to how much fun it is going to be, it will likely involve yet another elaborate con.
  • Anticlimax: The film starts with Maverick on the back of a horse with a noose around his neck and some snakes left behind by his captors to spook the horse so he'll be hanged. The first half of the film is about the circumstances that led him to this point. And when the moment arrives and Maverick's horse is about to bolt... the branch the rope is tied around breaks.
  • Appeal to Familial Wisdom: 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.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: After Annabelle steals his wallet, Maverick gets it back and starts undressing, saying she is going to do something for him. She protests that she wouldn't sleep with him in a million years, to which he replies that he wouldn't ever want to with her anyway. She immediately demands to know why not.
  • Ascended Extra: An interesting take on this trope. Listen to the theme song of the original series, and you'll hear a reference to "Annabelle"—presumably a former love Maverick left because "Luck is the lady that he loves the best". In the film, Annabelle is a prominent character.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Maverick's a master of learning "tells".
  • Bank Robbery: One occurs while Bret is visiting a banker friend. At first, Bret's practical joke on his friend makes the other clerks think there's a robbery, leading to Bret and the banker hastily clarifying. Less than five minutes later, the bank is held up in an actual robbery by angry gunmen.
  • Big Bad: As it turns out, Commodore Duvall. He hired Angel to keep Maverick from reaching the game, had Cooper as a back-up plan in case he lost, and after Cooper steals the money for him, he intended to kill Cooper after Angel and his gang were killed, and keep all the money to himself.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Bret does this to some robbers. Doubles as a Mythology Gag, as James Garner would frequently do this in the series.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Angel's way of dealing with Bret once he captures and knocks him out is to set him up on horeseback with a noose around his neck tied to a tree and some very angry rattlesnakes to spook the horse. Angel doesn't even hang around to make sure it works, saying it might implicate him in Maverick's "accidental" death.
    • Angel also foolishly says too much during the lead-up to the hanging, allowing Maverick to deduce that this isn't just simple revenge; somebody's trying to stop him from making it to the Tournament. When he tries to confront Angel aboard the Lauren Belle, however, the Spaniard at least has enough sense to do damage control and not say anymore than he already has.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes":
    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.
  • Call-Back: In the beginning Annabelle ruins Maverick's shirt by shrinking it in the wash after mending it. At the end, she brings him a new shirt as she's robbing him of half of his winnings.
    • In both the first game they play, and the last game they play, Angel calls Maverick a cheat before attempting to get violent. Both times, Angel is lying, and the second time, he pays for it with his life.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Maverick does so to Cooper throughout the film, because it is integral to the success of Maverick's plan that Cooper's true identity as Maverick's father remain secret from the rest of the cast.
  • Card Sharp: A few of the players at the game...but when they get caught, they're thrown overboard.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Cooper, aka Bret's father, is played by James Garner, the actor who played Maverick in the original tv series. Could be seen as a symbolic case of Passing the Torch.
    • During the bank robbery scene, the robbers' leader is played by Danny Glover, who co-starred with Gibson in Lethal Weapon (the robber even states that he's "getting too old for this", an iconic line spoken by his character from Lethal Weapon). The gag where they look each other in the face, contemplate, then decide "nah, it couldn't be" is a reference to their partnership in the other movie.
    • Two cheats in the big riverboat championship are thrown overboard. The first is Clint Black, who is also the singer of the song over the very montage he's tossed out in.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The two cheaters at the big game in the film's climax are caught, and summarily and unceremoniously thrown off the boat into the river. The second one, Denver Pyle, tries to keep his dignity and jump.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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 that they're connected somehow.
    • Bret has a distinctive quick draw for his gun. Cooper has a near identical method. Again, Annabelle takes notice of this fact.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Maverick loves to quote the wisdom of his father with the line, "Now, my pappy always used to say..." When his father reveals himself, he berates Bret that he didn't say those things.
  • 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... Until the last hand of the major tournament, so it seems.
    • Another skill is revealed in the first poker-game, namely that Maverick observes EVERYTHING that goes on at the table, and nothing gets by him. "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: While Maverick is a Quickdraw with Improbable Aiming Skills, he doesn't use his gun to solve problems. He could have easily drawn and shot The Dragon and everyone else at the table in the initial poker game and saved himself a heck of a lot of hassle for the entire movie, but that's not the way Bret rolls. But when backed into a corner, Bret shows that he can easily handle six armed men, disarming them all with his gun. In the end, the only people he kills are a few mooks who are about to kill him anyway. He doesn't even kill the Big Bad or The Dragon.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Possible example during the final round of the Tournament. When Maverick realizes the dealer's cheating (at the behest of the Commodore and Angel), he requests a new deck, a new cut, and a new shuffle. The Tournament rules, however, don't permit those options and only allow a player to change dealers if they'd like. It's not explicitly stated, but it's also not hard to imagine that the Commodore set up these specific rules just in case someone realized cheating was underway in the Tournament's climax and tried to do something about it.
  • Cunning People Play Poker: Brett Maverick is a very successful poker player. He's also very skilled at getting himself out of dangerous situations. For example, he arranged to have a group pretend to be there to accost him in order to make it appear that he had decent fighting skills, thus getting a more ruthless gambler who was accusing him of cheating to back down. The whole film is him either playing poker very well, or scheming to get past his opponents with some skill.
  • Deadfoot Leadfoot: Maverick, Annabelle, and Coop are riding a stagecoach when the driver abruptly dies, and the horses, left without input, keep running at full speed—straight toward a cliff. The other two make Maverick climb up on top to stop the horses, which, since the reins are dragging on the ground, he has to do by jumping onto the team's lead pair and pulling back on them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Maverick, Cooper, and Annabelle all love doing this.
  • Death Trap: After Angel captures Maverick, he leaves him with a noose around his neck tied to a tree, on the back of his horse, with his hands tied behind his back. He also leaves a bag full of rattlesnakes nearby to spook the horse so it will move away and leave Maverick to hang. Luckily the branch the rope is tied to breaks, allowing Maverick to avoid death.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The movie occasionally seems to use Source Music, but never calls attention to whatever is playing it. This is briefly broken when Maverick whistles part of the tune that was playing during the poker game at the start of the movie, suggesting that the music was actually played by a real band in the saloon where the game took place, and that it simply had an Ear Worm effect on Maverick.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Angel tracks Maverick down, catches him and tries to hang him... all because Maverick beat him at a poker game and fooled him into thinking he couldn't take him in a fight at the beginning of the film.
    • Partially also because the Commodore hired him to keep Maverick away from the poker tournament.
  • The Dragon: Angel is this to the Commodore.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • This is invoked off-screen. One of the men Bret sought to collect a debt from had died before the debt could be paid. Out of respect to his friend's widow, he let her keep the money for the funeral. Turns out there wasn't one, as the man's body wasn't found.
    • After finally stopping the stagecoach, Bret, Cooper, and Annabelle bury the coachman at the cliff they almost crashed over. Having not known the man at all, and at a loss for some decent words about him, they all start singing "Amazing Grace" to honor him.
  • Fake Danger Gambit: Maverick beats several baddies in a fist fight to scare Angel. It turns out he promised them money for throwing the fight.
  • Exact Words: When Cooper lays out the rules, he states anyone caught cheating will forfeit their entry fee and be banned. He then adds that said cheaters either better be a faster draw on the gun than him, or had better learn how to swim. Everybody laughs at the joke. The players who inevitably get caught cheating later, however, find out the hard way that Cooper wasn't joking about the swimming part.
  • Face Death with Dignity: A non-lethal variation that's played for comedy. When the second cardsharp gets caught during the Tournament, he's also thrown overboard. But in a direct contrast to the first cheater's undignified ejection, the second cardsharp is calm and polite about his impending swim. He even, by his own request, is allowed to keep his dignity and jump overboard himself rather than forcing Cooper to physically give him the boot.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Also an Anachronism Stew and Shown Their Work. When the camera zooms in on the clock striking five, the patent number reads 19701. While the patent number is indeed for a clock, it was not issued until the year 1900, 25 years after the film is set.
  • Friends All Along: Maverick relies on this to pull several Bait-and-Switch gambits.
    • Maverick walks into a bank and immediately pulls a gun on the sleeping bank teller, threatening him for money. However, they're actually good friends—Maverick was just pulling a joke on him.
    • Maverick later has a run-in with an entire Native American tribe who claim his crew and the missionary ladies are trespassing on their land. It's quickly revealed that he's friendly with the tribe and it's all a stunt to make off with the money.
    • At the end, it's revealed that Maverick and Cooper are in fact father and son, and not only are they on good terms, they arranged to steal the prize money together.
  • Gambit Pileup: In a movie about conmen, hustlers, gamblers, cheats, thieves, and lawmen each with their own goals and plots, there are a lot of collisions between the forces.
    • All Maverick wants to do is enter the game and prove himself to be a top-level poker player. In the end, it's revealed that Angel and the Commodore are working together to make sure one of them wins, as the Commodore and Cooper plan to steal the money if the Commodore loses. Then it's revealed that Cooper and Maverick cooked up a scheme to steal from the first two, in addition to Maverick proving his skills in poker.
  • Gambling Brawl:
    • Subverted twice during the first poker game, between Maverick, Angel, Annabelle and several others:
      • First, John Wesley Hardin (a famous Real Life gunfighter) tells Maverick that a hand of poker Maverick won shouldn't count. Instead of starting a gunfight, Maverick backs down and lets Hardin take the pot. He then demonstrates his lightning fast quick draw skill, thus making it clear that if there had been a gunfight, he could have shot Hardin before his gun cleared his holster. The demonstration works, and Hardin lets Maverick keep the pot.
      • Angel accuses Maverick of cheating and wants to fight him, but a group of men suddenly appear and want to fight him too. They go outside and Maverick handily beats the men up, causing Angel to retract his accusation out of fear. Later it's revealed that Maverick arranged to have the men intervene and lose to him if anyone threatened to physically attack him.
    • Played straight during the final poker game between the Commodore, Angel and Maverick. When Maverick pulls off a miracle play and wins the tournament, Angel accuses him of cheating again. Angel and his two henchmen draw their guns, but all three are shot and killed by Maverick and Marshall Zane Cooper.
  • 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. It also happens when Maverick decides to show Joseph his massive stash of money, only to find it replaced with a big wad of newspaper.
  • Graceful Loser: Several gamblers in the poker tournament accept their losses with good humor; most notable are Annabelle's last opponent before the finals (who gives her a wink and says he never had so much pleasure in losing), and the old man Bret beats, who shakes his hand and wishes him luck.
  • 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.
  • Groin Attack: While playing a game of poker, Maverick is accosted by five men who want to beat him up. They chase him outside and a fight starts. During the combat, Maverick kicks one of his opponents in the groin, disabling him.
  • 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 Zane Cooper's gun twirling is exactly the same.
  • HA HA HA—No: Maverick does this to intimidate Angel after winning a fight against five other men—previously Angel had called him a gutless cheat and after the fight, tried to tell Maverick he was only teasing.
    Maverick: Teasing? Ah, hahahaha—I don't like being teased.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: During the encounter with the tribe of Indians, Maverick speaks their language just fine (and the Indians all know English) and he "translates" for the rest of the group who don't understand the native language, claiming 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.
  • Historical Domain Character: The gunfighter at the first poker game in the movie is strongly implied to be John Wesley Hardin.
  • Hollywood Natives/Injun Country: Lampooned. Maverick's Native American friend Joseph 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, due to hardships experienced by the tribe (implied to be caused by overhunting by whites), they're putting on a paid performance for a wealthy Russian archduke who came to America seeking a stereotypical "Wild West" experience. When not obligated to play to an audience, Joseph is at least as modern and worldly as Maverick, not only speaking perfectly fluent English but also being fluent in French. It's also lampshaded when Joseph says if they get forced to move again, he's going to find some godforsaken swampland that nobody wants in the hopes white men will leave his people the hell alone. (That won't work.)
  • 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.
  • Honorable Warrior's Death: Maverick and Joseph con the Russian Duke into paying to "kill" a member of the tribe (actually Maverick in disguise) claiming that the Native is dying of sickness but doesn't want to go to his death passively.
  • 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.
  • How We Got Here/In Medias Res: The movie opens with Maverick about to be hanged, at about halfway through the overall story, as the show always did.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Russian Grand Duke is swindled by offering him a "genuine Indian hunt", with Maverick playing the role of a sick old man that nobody will miss. When he "kills" Maverick, they blackmail him with the threat of exposure.
  • Hustling the Mark: Maverick's signature move, especially when playing poker but really just all of the time. He is constantly Self-Deprecating—feigning innocence, incompetence, foolhardiness, and even stupidity—only to later reveal that he has actually been holding the best cards all along.
  • Hypocrite: After Maverick completes his Royal flush, Angel has the audacity to call Maverick a cheat even though HE'S the one that was getting cards from the bottom of the deck to set up his own straight flush hand.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: Maverick pulls this when he wants to expose/embarrass the con woman "Mrs. Bransford".
    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: [Beat] I've tried so hard to forget that place.
  • I Let You Win:
    • In the first poker game at the beginning, Maverick promises to lose for the first hour after Angel tells him he doesn't want him in the game. Maverick is true to his word, and learns all the tells of the other players and beats them all once the hour is up.
    • When Annabelle steals half of Bret's winnings at the end of the film, he wonders why he left it in the satchel in the first place. His dad says he knows exactly why and Bret agrees—because getting it back will be fun and it's an excuse to see Annabelle again.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
    • The Danny Glover gag in the bank robbery scene.
    • This scene is actually a two-fer. Glover we get to see, but Corey Feldman was also part of the gang.
  • It's Personal: After Angel learns that Maverick tricked him into backing down from a fight, he's enraged and is determined to get his revenge. He says "Maverick is mine, anyway. But this time it's personal."
  • Karmic Thief: Cooper and arguably Maverick. Cooper himself even talks about how much he enjoyed "nailing" Duvall, and Maverick's "old pappy" quote seems to acknowledge this. Maverick, meanwhile, is only ever shown claiming what he's fairly owed and the money of the truly corrupt. The movie also indicates that he's in fact just a fantastic poker player, winning fair and square in every game we see him play, which means that he doesn't steal from any innocents either.
  • Kick the Dog: Maverick briefly sags after picking up the last card in the tournament, letting Angel relax and believe that his straight flush held to give him the win before tossing the card face-up on the chips to show Angel he's lost. In fairness, Angel, who cheated to even get that hand, really deserved it.
  • Kiss of Distraction: This is a favorite technique of Annabelle, which she usually uses to steal things. Maverick is very wise to it. An Aren't You Going to Ravish Me? moment leads him to say, "Are you crazy? I'm not going to sleep with you! I'd wake up with all kinds of things missing!"
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Maverick, literally and figuratively.
  • Last Plan Standing: After surviving (and winning) the whole demented situation involving the card tournament, Bret's winnings are stolen by Annabelle, who took one look at that same mess and decided to keep her head down, walk in on Bret as he's taking a bath without a gun, take the money and leave. Bret and Bret's father, who was part of the tournament con and also taking a bath call it fair cop, Bret reveals to his dad that Annabelle only took half of the loot because, expecting something like this to happen, Bret hid the other half in his boots, and end the film looking forward at how fun it's going to be getting the money back.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Angel, who's tried to kill, incapacitate, and cheat Maverick from victory gets his cheat busted when Maverick gets a legitimate top of the deck card to complete his hand, and when he falsely accuses Maverick of being a cheat, he gets a bullet from Pappy Maverick and ends up dying himself for his troubles.
  • 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.
  • Leitmotif: Meta example. For Danny Glover's cameo, composer Randy Newman snuck in a brief reprise of Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton's Riggs theme from Lethal Weapon.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Yep, it exists, and it turned out to be the final game from Data East. Click here for tropes.
  • Loophole Abuse: During the break before the final round of the Tournament, Cooper rules that any player not back at the table at the top of the hour will forfeit their place in the game. Angel, or at least it's heavily implied it's him, takes advantage of this to lock Maverick in his stateroom during the final minutes before the game play resumes. The intent is to try and get him kicked out of the game on that technicality. It almost works and Maverick just barely manages to escape and make it back to the table in the nick of time.
    • And really, Maverick COULD have been kicked out, as the player is supposed to be in their seat before the clock finishes chiming. Maverick throws open the doors to the tournament area and tells them to wait after the last chime has sounded. However (Possibly because Coop is Maverick's father) Coop lets Maverick take his seat.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: This trope is played with throughout the film, as Bret Maverick is convinced that he can draw any card out of the deck at will. However, most of his attempts are completely unsuccessful until the end of the film, when he manages to draw the Ace of Spades he needs to complete his Royal Flush and win the poker tournament. The final poker battle on the gambling ship at the end of the film is made of this trope. First, Maverick beats Annabelle by showing his cards, after she thought she won and already started collecting the winnings. Next, the final showdown between Maverick, Angel, and the Commodore. The Commodore shows his hand first: "Two small pair. Eights... and eights." Then Angel shows his hand, "See if you can beat my straight flush!" Maverick finally reveals his royal flush and wins it all, without saying a word. note  Also, a large part of the movie is of Annabelle trying to get Maverick to tell her his tells, and she ends up losing on the poker ship from the one tell he didn't let her know about.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Anabelle addresses Bret as "Bert" or "Bart" or anything other than Bret when she's annoyed with him (which is most of the time) Sometimes she seems to do it just because she knows it annoys him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: When Cooper asks Maverick how he drew the Ace of Spades to complete the Royal Flush, Maverick earnestly responds by saying it was "magic," and we did indeed see him try earlier in the film and fail, but after the tournament, he seems to do it again after Annabelle leaves, and the card he draws is the Queen of Hearts. When he asks if Cooper believes him, Cooper honestly says he does.
  • Misery Builds Character: The reason Cooper sends Maverick climb out of the carriage to try and stop the horses. It comes right after Maverick had just extolled the virtues of cowardice in front of Coop. Doubly poignant knowing that this is a dad trying to build his son's character by subjecting him to a dangerous situation. Maverick is not amused.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jodie Foster as Annabelle. With or without being fully dressed.
  • Mundane Solution: Annabelle spends the whole movie trying to con, cheat and pickpocket her way into big poker game and counts on her skill as a player to see her through. She gets nowhere with these tricks and in the end she simply steals half of Maverick's winnings by pulling a gun on him. It's implied that he lets her get away with it so he can have fun trying to get it all back. However, where she lacked in conning, she is excellent at Sherlock Scan. She was able to deduce right from the start that Zane was Bret's father and went along with it.
  • My Favorite Shirt:
    • Maverick gets angry (or possibly pretends to) when his shirt is damaged during a fight.
    • He is legitimately angry when Annabelle ruins that shirt later.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Angel's attempt to kill Maverick in the prologue. Not only does it fail due to Bond Villain Stupidity, but Angel's angry boasting reveals somebody's trying to stop Maverick from reaching the Tournament. Knowing the twists on the re-watch, Maverick confronting Angel on board the Lauren Belle can be interpreted as trying to confirm if it's the Commodore (and if he might be on to his and Cooper's con), or if there's a new x-factor in play neither he or his father know about.
  • Non-Action Protagonist: Bret Maverick would certainly like to stay out of the action; he's a professional gambler, not a gunfighter, and much prefers bluffing and tricks to get out of tight spots, like arranging himself to win a staged fight and scare off an opponent, or tricking a bunch of drunk renegades into thinking they're surrounded by gunmen; he's also a quick draw but admits he "can't hit shit," and being a bit of a dandy he's wary of ruining his clothes. That doesn't stop him from being forced into several scrapes, including stopping a runaway wagon (nearly getting himself tossed off a cliff in the process), and engaging in a non-lethal shootout with the aforementioned renegades. By the third act, Bret seems to have gained some spine, shown when he straight-up attacks Angel's thugs by himself.
  • Papa Wolf: Cooper shooting Angel at the end of the Tournament and saving Maverick becomes this upon the re-watch. Knowing the twist, it's really a pissed off Papa Maverick defending his son.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Several characters pull this off in order to get other people's guards down.
    • Maverick is of course the prime example, as he is constantly bumbling and self-denigrating, especially right before pulling off some amazing trick or outsmarting someone. For example, he claims that he can't hit the broad side of a barn with his pistol - especially when shooting at people - only moments before a shootout in which he disarms several opponents by shooting the guns out their hands.
    • Cooper also does this to a degree by presenting himself as an old coot who can't really do much anymore. However a more specific example occurs when he explains the rules of the poker tournament to the players and crowd. He warns anyone who would dare bring a gun or cheat, but then "accidentally" drops his pistol while holstering it. As the tournament goes on (and especially at the very end), we find out he's not even remotely as clumsy as he pretended to be.
    • Annabelle, of course, uses her "vulnerable and naive young woman" persona constantly to lull other people into thinking of her as just some ditz. This lowers their guard, making them susceptible to theft.
  • Oh, Crap!: There's brief one seen on the face of the dealer during the final round of Poker. Why? Because he was in charge of stacking the deck to set up the mathematically near-impossible hands of the Commodore, Angel, and Maverick, and Maverick just changed the dealers. He knows that. Maverick has worked out The Magic Poker Equation.
    • The Commodore likewise has a quiet Oh, Crap! reaction during all this as well for the same reasons. He's likewise worried Maverick's figured it out too and that he might try to expose him and Angel here and now.
  • One-Steve Limit: Near the end, when someone calls out, "Maverick?" both Bret and Coop answer "Yes?"
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title, being named for the protagonist's last name.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Bret points out Annabelle's accent is a little muddy. She herself calls it her "southern".
  • Playing Card Motifs: Certainly expected in a movie based on poker. During a scene when he and Annabelle part ways after the tournament, Maverick tries to choose which card he draws from a deck, and he picks the Queen of Hearts – a reminder of his romantic encounter with Annabelle Bransford.
  • Professional Gambler: Several characters, including all of the travelers.
  • Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title, being named for the protagonist's last name.
  • Quick Draw: Maverick can draw blindingly fast, though he pretends that he can't actually hit anything. The truth is he also has Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: When Chief Joseph first talks to the Russian duke, he speaks in Gratuitous French that isn't translated for the audience.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: While Cooper's accidental dropping of his gun when trying to re-holster it while describing the rules of the game to the poker players is good for a laugh, and makes the players and audience question how good he is, James Garner actually did fumble the gun and drop it, and simply kept the scene going rather than break the take, allowing for it to be used as a humorous moment in the film, as it suited the character of a potentially past-his-prime lawman. For a Rewatch Bonus, you can see James Coburn turn around and actually look off camera, likely at the director to see if he's going to stop the scene, before he turns back and keeps playing the scene through with Garner.
  • Remake Cameo: James Garner, the original Bret Maverick, plays Marshal Zane Cooper in the movie. It doubles as a Mythology Gag when it turns out that he's Bret's father, as Garner had also played Maverick's Pappy in an episode of the original TV series as well.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The complicated set of double-crosses and triple-crosses at the end of the film means that on a rewatch the viewer gets to see several characters in a new light, knowing their true agendas. In particular it's interesting to re-evaluate Cooper's reactions to Brett's antics, and especially the pained expression he gets whenever Brett starts banging on about something his old Pappy always said.
    • In particular, Cooper is revealed to be an immaculate con artist who enjoys separating cheaters from their money. The film even allows for the possibility that Cooper had masterminded a slew of different plots throughout the film — with any of the other characters — solely in order to achieve that goal.
      • Cooper's anger at the Commodore at their midnight rendezvous also plays differently knowing the twist. On the first watch, Cooper's angry that his co-conspirator brought in Angel and didn't tell him the plan had been modified. With the re-watch, Cooper's actually angry that Angel was a Spanner in the Works nearly derailing his and Brett's own con — and which nearly got his son killed by Angel twice.
      • Watch Cooper's face in the closeup when he shoots and kills Angel. He's clearly enraged that Angel called his son a cheat and was attempting to shoot him.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Maverick uses this ability to track the fake Indians. Although most of it is parodied just to mess with Annabelle. Really he just follows the horseshoe prints.
  • Sherlock Scan: Annabelle knows Zane is Bret's father almost immediately. They both sing "Amazing Grace" the wrong way, for example, and they both have the same ... er, physical characteristics.
  • Shout-Out
    • Zane Cooper's name combines Zane Grey, famous author of Western novels, with Gary Cooper, famous actor in Western films.
    • 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). They look at each other as though in recognition, but then shake their heads saying, "Naaah..." before shaking their heads and walking away. As Glover exits the bank, he murmurs, "I'm getting too old for this shit!" And, the guitar track at that moment becomes suspiciously like the Lethal Weapon theme.
    • Maverick rides a bicycle belonging to his friend Chief Joseph, who explains that he won it in a card game. This is a reference to another Western movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kidnote . In that movie, Butch Cassidy owns (and rides) a bicycle, and is a rotten gambler - so Chief Joseph won his bicycle from Butch!
    • While strung up by a noose under a tree, Maverick addresses God, calling him "Lord" and promising he'll fix whatever bad thing he did if God can get him out of this situation; exactly the kind of thing Phillipe the Mouse does in Ladyhawke all the time.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Maverick's relationship with Annabelle Bransford.
  • Something Else Also Rises: During the final hand of the tournament, the Commodore thinks he has an unbeatable hand and his cigar points upward from his mouth. When he realizes another player has him beat, his cigar sags downward.
  • Sore Loser: Every time Maverick beats someone at poker, they accuse him of being a cheat and some of them immediately try to kill him.
  • Sword over Head: Coop does this (with a stick) to the Commodore.
  • 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.
  • Test of Pain: While his party is surrounded by hostile Natives, Maverick tells the others someone must face the "Indian bravery test", in which someone has their hands cut off, only passing the test if they don't make a sound. He nobly volunteers and leaves the group to meet his fate... and it turns out the bravery test was bullshit. The Native chief is a buddy of Bret's who owes him money.
  • Tomato Surprise: Maverick and Cooper are both fully aware that they're actually father and son.
  • Tonto Talk: Parodied. Joseph is fully fluent in both English and French, but the Russian duke insists that Joseph speak to him only in Tonto-speak, to Joseph's great exasperation.
  • Wham Line: Cooper finally exasperated at Maverick's constant misquoting of his father - revealing Coop is his father.
    Coop: I never said that once! You've been misquoting me all your life!
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Maverick asks this of Annabelle.
  • The "Why Wait?" Combatant: Inverted. Maverick is at a card game, and one of his opponents suggests he should get a do-over because he wasn't ready. The young man in question reveals that he is a renowned gunfighter, and Maverick agrees to the do-over, causing some at the table to accuse him of cowardice. He rises from his seat, prompting the gunfighter to rise as well, to which Maverick tells him to hold on, that he's merely expounding on his point, and that he doesn't see what's so good about bravery. He's a gambler, and would like to be an old gambler. The kid is a gunfighter, and a good one. What chance would Maverick have? "Zero." he states, while drawing his gun faster than the eye can follow. He then says he's there to play poker.
    Maverick: Who wants to play poker? (others at the table raise their hands) Who wants to see some guy get killed? (hands go down). Nah. C'mon, let's play poker.
  • The Wild West
  • Xanatos Gambit
    • The Commodore's plan. If he or Angel won the tournament, the two of them would split the $500,000 with Cooper; if anyone else won, Cooper would steal the money and split it with them later. Duvall didn't tell the others that he was planning to kill them and keep the money for himself.
    • It backfires when Maverick interrupts the meeting between Duvall and Cooper and steals the money back. He and Cooper had been running a gambit of their own to make sure if Maverick won, he'd keep the prize.


Video Example(s):


Maverick's Poker Finale

In the final game of poker tournament, Maverick pulls the greatest hand ever.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheMagicPokerEquation

Media sources: