Now in its glorious second annual presentation, Terence Towles Canote of A Shroud of Thoughts hosts the Favourite Television Episode blogathon running from March 25 to 27. Click HERE for the contributors.
In its glorious second season Maverick (1957-1962) received a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Western Series, the first and only time the Television Academy presented that award in an era where westerns glutted the small screen landscape. Writer and producer Roy Huggins created Maverick to be the snide opposite of his successful and more traditional western Cheyenne starring Clint Walker. Whether the Academy got the joke or not is up for debate.
Jack Kelly as Bart and James Garner as Bret
Legends of the West, Bret and Bart Maverick roamed the TV west with a deck of cards and a ready wit; conning con men, romancing pretty Warner's contractees, and being generally adventurous. In a tight spot they would quote the larcenous philosophy passed down by their "old pappy". James Garner starred as Bret, and when the demanding schedule of the enormously popular program proved too much for one actor, Jack Kelly was signed as Bart.
Both actors of charm and skill, fans were most delighted when a script called for the two sharing the spotlight in an episode. Such an episode is Shady Deal at Sunny Acres written by Roy Huggins for that award winning second season and directed by Les Martinson, who turned 101 this past January. Martinson's career in television dates back to General Electric Theatre in the 1950s through The Roy Rogers Show, Conflict, all of the Warners programs of the 50s and 60s including 18 episodes of Maverick, Ironside, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, Barnaby Jones and practically anything you ever watched.
John Dehner as John Bates
"If you can't trust your banker, who can you trust?"
Fate and the friendly laws of probability have been kind to Bret Maverick. In a crowded saloon on a warm evening his pocket is $15,000 richer than when he entered the establishment. Overcome with a sudden case of discretion, Bret prevails upon a local banker, one Mr. Bates, to open his premises for the safe storage of his funds. Bret sleeps well that night with Mr. Bates' receipt tucked in the Maverick wallet. The next day Bret's request at the bank for a portion of his funds is met with a blank stare from Mr. Bates who claims never to have seen the gambler before. The signature on the receipt is an obvious forgery, as attested to by the honest banking partner, Mr. Granville. That Maverick fellow is up to something. Yes, he is. Bret pays for two weeks rent on his hotel room and announces that when he leaves town he will have his purloined $15,000. He then perches comforably in a rocking chair on the front porch of the hotel and whittles. When townspeople, who find the whole affair rather amusing, ask how he will get his money back Bret smiles and says that "he's working on it".
If, in the usual course of a Sunday evening (Maverick's original air date), it was a treat to have both Maverick brothers on hand, imagine the delight the first time this episode aired with a plethora of recurring characters audiences had become familiar with all coming together (Avengers Assemble!) for a perfect sting.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Dandy Jim Buckley
Diane Brewster as Samantha Crawford
Richard Long as Gentleman Jack Darby
Leo V. Gordon as Big Mike McComb
Arlene Howell as Cindy Lou Brown
with John Dehner and Jack Kelly
Bart Maverick arrives in town under the name of Bartley J. Mansfield III, representative of British investors and a private stock speculator. Gaining the confidence of the greedy John Bates, and with expert and willing performances from the slickest con artists this side of the Rockies, Bret does indeed leave town with his $15,000. The honest banker becomes the only banker in town, Bates sits in the hoosegow contemplating his downfall, and Bret rarely got up out of that rocker.
Fans of classic character actors are treated with more familiar faces than they can shake a stick at in this episode. Along with the great John Dehner as Bates we have Regis Toomey, Karl Swenson, J. Pat O'Malley, Irving Bacon, Syd Salor, Jonathan Hole and Earle Hodgins. A genuine treat from beginning to end.
As my old pappy used to say, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, and those are very good odds."