Tag Archives: James Garner

MAVERICK (1994) – MOVIE REVIEW

Mascot new lookFRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 7th! As always the Frontierado holiday (now celebrated on 6 continents) is about the myth of the Wild West, not the grinding reality. It’s just like the way medieval festivals celebrate the era’s romantic aspects, not “the violence inherent in the system” (for my fellow Monty Python fans). Here’s another Balladeer’s Blog review of a seasonal movie. 

MaverickMAVERICK (1994) – Richard Donner directed and Mel Gibson starred in this excellent tribute to the 1950s and 1980s Maverick television series. The original series starred James Garner as slick-talking gambler/ gunslinger Bret Maverick AND, in old-age makeup, as “Pappy” Beauregard Maverick, the gambler and con-man patriarch of that family of rogues.  (No relation to the real-life Maverick family of Texas, for whom “maverick” cattle were named.)

Maverick was just as often comedic as dramatic and nicely anticipated the many deconstructions of Old West mythology that were to come in the decades ahead. Sometimes the program was daringly farcical as in episodes like Gun-Shy, a spoof of Gunsmoke, and Three Queens Full, a Bonanza parody set on the Sub-Rosa Ranch (as opposed to Bonanza‘s PONDErosa). The storyline featured Maverick encountering a Ben Cartwright-styled rancher and his three less-than-straight sons, hence the episode’s title.

The original series centered on Garner’s Bret Maverick (and later other Maverick family members) vying in cardplaying and con-games with assorted rival gamblers, gunslingers and con-men. Efrem Zimbalist Jr – in his pre-FBI years – played Dandy Jim, one of the recurring members of Maverick’s Rogue’s Gallery of foes. 

Elaborate schemes and multiple double-crosses often kept viewers guessing who would come out on top til the very end, since Bret sometimes ended up on the losing side. 

The constant betrayals and double-crosses were part of the charm of the television series and were perfectly captured by the 1994 big-screen adaptation of Maverick. This thoroughly enjoyable film is often dismissed as just another of the pointless movie adaptations of tv shows that began to flood theaters back then, but that is far from the truth.

Maverick 2Mel Gibson portrays Bret Maverick since by 1994 James Garner was too old for the role. Jodie Foster co-stars as rival gambler Annabelle Bransford and the iconic James Garner provides memorable support as a lawman. 

NECESSARY SPOILER: Many people that I’ve discussed this movie with said they avoided it or stopped watching it once they realized Garner was not portraying a member of the Maverick family. In reality – as we learn near the very end – he IS. He may have been too old to play Bret this time around but he reprised his role of Pappy Beauregard from the original series. Pappy is just POSING as a lawman and his son Bret obligingly plays along without blowing his Pappy’s cover. Continue reading

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PART TWO OF TWENTY JAMES GARNER MOVIES (11-20)

FOR THE FIRST TEN MOVIES CLICK HERE

One Little IndianONE LITTLE INDIAN (1973) – Light-hearted family western. James Garner portrays Corporal Clint Keyes, who, after clashing with his Indian-hating superior, escapes a potential hanging for it and rides off into the desert with a pair of camels left over from the ill-advised American Camel Corps attempt in the 1800s.

Clay O’Brien was the title character, Mark, a white boy who had been raised by Native Americans and who winds up tagging along with Keyes, Lone Wolf and Cub-style. Vera Miles plays the widowed Doris McIver and a very young Jodie Foster has the role of her daughter Martha. (“Why did you say that NAME!?”)

Morgan Woodward portrays the bad guy Sgt Raines, who relentlessly pursues Keyes to bring him back to be executed for mutiny and desertion. Robert Pine, Andrew Prine and Dallas‘ Jim Davis are in the cast as well. Naturally there’s a happy ending with Mark, the widow McIver and her daughter serving as a pre-packaged family for Garner’s character in the finale. Continue reading

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TWENTY JAMES GARNER MOVIES

James Garner 2Balladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top 20 lists for the year 2020 continues with this look at a score of James Garner films. NOTE: The Great Escape is not included, only because Garner was part of an ensemble cast in that movie. 

Best remembered for his portrayal of slick-talking gambler/ gunslinger Brett Maverick and Westlake-esque private detective Jim Rockford, Garner inspired the term “marshmallow macho”. That description perfectly captured Garner’s special appeal.

James GarnerFor many American males James Garner and the characters he brought to life represented a happy medium between psychotically macho men and unbearably femmey men. I hate the term “role model” but for lack of a better choice that’s what we’ll go with.

In addition Garner served in the Korean War and won two Purple Hearts.

MaverickMAVERICK (1994) – Though James Garner was technically playing a supporting role to Mel Gibson in this film, Gibson was portraying Bret Maverick, the character Garner had turned into a sensation in the 1950s. Since this movie would not exist without the cultural cache built up by James’ portrayal of both Bret AND “Pappy” Beauregard Maverick (in old age makeup) this definitely counts as a Garner film.

NECESSARY SPOILER: The lawman character that Garner portrays in the film turns out to really be Pappy Maverick, with Mel Gibson’s Bret simply playing along with his father’s impersonation. FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW OF THIS FILM CLICK HERE   

Barbarians at the GateBARBARIANS AT THE GATE (1993) – In this telefilm based on the best-selling non-fiction book, Jim plays F. Ross Johnson, the real-life president of RJR-Nabisco who unleashed one of the most chaotic and frenzied leveraged buyouts in Wall Street history during the “greed is good” 1980s.

The real Ross Johnson was close with Warren Beatty and other major players in the entertainment industry, which may be why he gets painted in a less villainous light in the movie. (Being played by the ever-charming Garner certainly helps.) In reality FEWER jobs were lost by the ultimately triumphant Henry Kravis’ LBO plan than would have been lost if Johnson came out on top.

Teddy Forstmann, the lone Wall Street figure of the 80s who was a voice in the wilderness condemning LBOs and the damage they did to the economy, gets depicted as a virtual loon. Very odd, since Forstmann’s real-life views on LBOs were closer to the sentiments of Larry Gelbart and the others behind this flick than Johnson’s or Kravis’ were.

Ultimately Barbarians at the Gate is a dark comedy classic, it’s true, but read the book if you want the real low-down on the eventful RJR-Nabisco buyout. Continue reading

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“MAVERICK DIDN’T COME HERE TO LOSE” – FRONTIERADO SONG

James GarnerFrontierado will be here this Friday and who DOESN’T love a 3-day weekend with Friday off instead of Monday! Two days to recover from all your Frontierado parties and cook-outs and late-night movie marathons!

Here’s another song for the season. It’s the extended version of Maverick Didn’t Come Here To Lose from the telefilm Bret Maverick: The Lazy Ace. That tv movie served to launch the brief 1980s revival of Garner’s character from the 1950s Maverick series. Co-star Ed Bruce sang the song, a shortened version of which served as the new series’ theme song. 

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GOOD RUN OF BAD LUCK: FRONTIERADO SONG

Recently I reviewed the 1994 movie Maverick since Frontierado is coming up on Friday, August 3rd. Here’s the Clint Black song and official video for Good Run of Bad Luck complete with scenes from the Maverick movie. 

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MAVERICK (1994): MOVIE REVIEW

MASCOT COWBOY 2FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 3rd! As always the Frontierado holiday (now celebrated on 6 continents) is about the myth of the Wild West, not the grinding reality. It’s just like the way medieval festivals celebrate the era’s romantic aspects, not “the violence inherent in the system” (for my fellow Monty Python fans).

MaverickMAVERICK (1994) – Richard Donner directed and Mel Gibson starred in this excellent tribute to the 1950s and 1980s Maverick television series. The original series starred James Garner as slick-talking gambler/ gunslinger Bret Maverick AND, in old-age makeup, as “Pappy” Beauregard Maverick, the gambler and con-man patriarch of that family of rogues.  (No relation to the real-life Maverick family of Texas, for whom “maverick” cattle were named.)

Maverick was just as often comedic as dramatic and nicely anticipated the many deconstructions of Old West mythology that were to come in the decades ahead. Sometimes the program was daringly farcical as in episodes like Gun-Shy, a spoof of Gunsmoke, and Three Queens Full, a Bonanza parody set on the Sub-Rosa Ranch (as opposed to Bonanza‘s PONDErosa). The storyline featured Maverick encountering a Ben Cartwright-styled rancher and his three less-than-straight sons, hence the episode’s title.

The original series centered on Garner’s Bret Maverick (and later other Maverick family members) vying in cardplaying and con-games with assorted rival gamblers, gunslingers and con-men. Efrem Zimbalist Jr – in his pre-FBI years – played Dandy Jim, one of the recurring members of Maverick’s Rogue’s Gallery of foes. 

Elaborate schemes and multiple double-crosses often kept viewers guessing who would come out on top til the very end, since Bret sometimes ended up on the losing side. 

The constant betrayals and double-crosses were part of the charm of the television series and were perfectly captured by the 1994 big-screen adaptation of Maverick. This thoroughly enjoyable film is often dismissed as just another of the pointless movie adaptations of tv shows that began to flood theaters back then, but that is far from the truth.

Maverick 2Mel Gibson portrays Bret Maverick since by 1994 James Garner was too old for the role. Jodie Foster co-stars as rival gambler Annabelle Bransford and the iconic James Garner provides memorable support as a lawman. 

NECESSARY SPOILER: Many people that I’ve discussed this movie with said they avoided it or stopped watching it once they realized Garner was not portraying a member of the Maverick family. In reality – as we learn near the very end – he IS. He may have been too old to play Bret this time around but he reprised his role of Pappy Beauregard from the original series. Pappy is just POSING as a lawman and his son Bret obligingly plays along without blowing his Pappy’s cover. Continue reading

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JAMES GARNER: R.I.P.

James Garner 2The one and only James Garner (1928-2014) passed away yesterday. Best remembered for his portrayal of slick-talking gambler Brett Maverick and Westlake-esque private detective Jim Rockford, Garner inspired the term “marshmallow macho”. That description perfectly captured Garner’s special place in the history of male role models (as much as I usually hate the expression “role models”) in the larger culture.

James GarnerFor so many American males James Garner and the characters he brought to life represented a happy medium between psychotically macho Clint Eastwood types and the hopelessly femmey Alan Alda types. Garner’s film roles are often overlooked but Balladeer’s Blog will make a point of examining them in the months ahead. In addition Garner served in the Korean War and won two Purple Hearts.

This man was a true original and with his passing he may finally receive all of the acclaim that he always deserved.  

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