Saturday, February 29, 2020

THE LEAP YEAR BLOGATHON: Wild Bill Wellman and Midnight Mary, 1933

Rebecca Deniston is hosting The Leap Year Blogathon at her site Taking Up Room. The contributions to this clever idea can be found HERE.

"Most motion picture directors are a little screwy. I know that fliers are, and I have been both, so draw your own conclusions."
- William Wellman

Leap year baby "Wild Bill" Wellman (February 29, 1896 - December 9, 1975) was on tour promoting his memoir in 1974 when he stopped in Toronto. My late dad and I attended the evening and were enthralled by the curmudgeonly legend with a lot to say and a lot of love to extend to his wife, Dorothy Coonan who was by his side during so much, including this visit among his admirers.

It wasn't enough to be a WWI flying ace or the director of Wings, the first movie awarded the Oscar for Best Picture. Wellman wanted to try his hand at every type of movie, and from Wild Boys of the Road to A Star is Born to The Ox-Bow Incident to Battleground to Track of the Cat to Goodbye My Lady, and much more, the work of this remarkable man is worth exploring for its creativity and audacity.

"I've been fired from every major studio in Hollywood except Disney. They never hired me!"
- William Wellman

Midnight Mary seemed to me to be the proper title to explores this leap year of 2020. Originally conceived as a project for Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, it was turned down by those stars. The story is by Anita Loos (Red-Headed Woman), based on magazine articles about female delinquents with the screenplay by Gene Markey (Baby Face) and Kathryn Scola (Female).

Loretta Young, Una Merkel

Born in 1910, Mary and her friend Bunny lead a hardscrabble life with Mary losing her Mother early. The girls have to raise themselves in a hostile world and Mary, although innocent, is sent to a reformatory for shoplifting.

Loretta Young, Una Merkel

If it weren't for bad luck, they'd have no luck at all. The girls hook up with a gang of crooks. Bunny is in it for the long term with Angelo played by Warren Hymer. Mary becomes more than just a passing phase for Leo Darcy played by Ricardo Cortez, the brains of the outfit.

Una Merkel, Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez

Mary is young, and in a spot, but she has finer ideas. She attempts to leave Leo and the gang, seeking an honest job. Honest jobs are not easy to come by and she is driven by hunger and privation back to her old life. We observe through the years that Mary keeps herself above her surroundings and companions. She hires her own butler played by Halliwell Hobbes, she reads and is interested in art. Nonetheless, Mary is still a crook and good at her job.

Ricardo Cortez, Loretta Young, Franchot Tone

One of those jobs that should have gone like clockwork went haywire due to the human element. What should have been easy takings at a gambling hall erupted into gunplay where Mary prevented the shooting by Leo of Thomas Mannering played by Franchot Tone. Mannering had flirted with the pretty stranger and now owed his life to her quick thinking. Grateful, and looking for excitement, Mannering spirited Mary out of the danger zone and to his family mansion. There Mary saw real art for the first time and grabbed an opportunity to escape her sordid life.

Loretta Young, Franchot Tone

Mannering is obviously besotted with Mary and eager to help her turn her life around. He puts her through secretarial school and sees that she is hired at his law firm. When the couple is about to make things official, Mary is spotted by the cop who was on duty the night of the robbery. To spare the man she loves, Mary breaks his heart and surrenders to the police and the inevitable jail term.

Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez

Life after prison proves no bed of roses. Jobs have not suddenly become easier to come by, and Thomas Mannering Jr. has married a socialite. Leo comes back into Mary's life and offers her the only stability she has ever known. When their paths cross with Mannering once more, Leo's jealousy and Thomas's love for Mary both reach a boiling point. To save her beloved's life, Mary has no choice but to kill Leo. A jury finds her guilty of murder, and it will take an 11th-hour effort to save our Midnight Mary.

Midnight Mary clocks in at 1 hr and 14 minutes. There is a lot of story, a lot of life to observe and Wellman does this stylishly whilst Mary awaits a jury's verdict. The years embossed on the spines of lawbooks introduce us to the passage of time, as do timely and elegant camera swipes. Much is learned of characters by a look or an attitude. The drudgery of the years in prison is represented by the marching and dragging feet of the inmates. Upon her release from prison Mary, so fashionable when she was on top is shown with torn stockings and flat shoes to indicate her change in status.

Ricardo Cortez

Most impressive is Wellman's handling of the death of Leo. He and Mary had been in their bedroom with the door locked. Leo was beating Mary and his henchman raised the volume on the radio in the living room to mask the sound. Leo puts a gun in his pocket and reached the door with the stated intention of killing Mannering.

Loretta Young

Mary, who had been knocked to the floor, raises herself and sees Leo's other gun on the bed. She calls to him and when he turns, Mary fires. Leo slumps to the floor with his back to the door, his head beating against the door in time to the pounding of his henchmen on the other side. Mary stares wide-eyed at the dying man with her head shaking along with his until she is able to bring herself to look away.

A story of love, crime and redemption that could be merely cliche, is instead a refined and memorable film under Wellman's direction.

William Wellman, Loretta Young, Franchot Tone
The break-up scene

"He (Wellman) was one of the best looking men I had ever seen. Every actress he worked with, including me, had a crush on him."
- Loretta Young

Loretta Young and William Wellman movies:

The Hatchet Man, 1932
Heroes for Sale, 1933
Midnight Mary, 1933
Call of the Wild, 1935

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Greetings, Sunday morning bloggers! The Butlers and Maids Blogathon is underway. Our host Rich Watson at Wide Screen World has all the Saturday contributions HERE.

As your hostess for this second day, I will be collecting posts here or on twitter @CaftanWoman.

Day 2 contributions

Thank you to all of the participants in our blogathon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

THE BUTLERS & MAIDS BLOGATHON: Personal Maid's Secret, 1935

Your host for Day 1, Rich of Wide Screen World and yours truly Caftan Woman, the hostess on Day 2 are proud to present this blogathon tribute to the funny, the devious, and the devoted Butlers and Maids of the cinematic world. HERE is where the fun starts.

I hope you enjoy this look at Ruth Donnelly in Personal Maid's Secret, 1935. 

Ruth Donnelly is Lizzie

Lizzie is a treasure. Long in service among the stylish set, Lizzie has voluntarily left the Bentleys of Park Avenue. They're nice people, but they haven't paid her salary in three months. A trip to an employment agency brings Lizzie into the sphere of the Smiths. This middle-class family has touched her heart and Lizzie is willing to forego her usual salary to work for them.

Margaret Lindsay is Joan Smith, wife and mother, and she is looking for "a treasure." Warren Hull is Jimmy Smith who is in the insurance business. Frank Albertson is Joan's brother Kent Fletcher, an inventor at an auto firm. Ronny Cosby plays Bobby Smith, the couple's curious son.

Lizzie is a great friend to Bobby and a guiding hand to the Smiths. Lizzie finds the Smiths very open to suggestions. Her knowledge of how the "better half" lives and does business proves invaluable as she subtly guides them through the society of NYC, moving from their cramped apartment to a roomy place on the East Side, and then a Long Island Estate. Jimmy's business is booming and he's joined the country club. Joan plays bridge and hires a governess for Bobby although the little boy still prefers Lizzie. 

Arthur Treacher plays a butler of the Bentley's who maintains a strong friendship with Lizzie. On an outing, as they take a bus ride the pair can point out the great homes of the families they have worked for in their long careers. Lizzie had worked for the Abercrombies and a faraway look comes into her eyes. Owen mentions that they had a son who was a flyer who died in the war. Lizzie affirms that that was true and suddenly the picture of the pretty girl kept in her dresser is no longer a secret to the audience.

Anita Louise plays Diana Abercrombie who is unaware that her mother was once the family's maid. It is a secret kept between the Abercrombies and Lizzie. Now that the Smiths are in with the tony social set, Joan's brother Kent falls for Diana the debutante.

Diana likes Kent, but she is more interested in a married man, Warren Sherrill played by Bill Elliot. The Abercrombies do not approve, and neither does Lizzie. Will Lizzie be able to keep Diana from making a mistake? Will Lizzie's secret remain so? Will Lizzie and her friend Owen ever stop arguing and admit their true feelings?

Based on a story by Lillian Day, the script by Lillie Hayward (The Shaggy Dog) and F. Hugh Herbert (Margie) is by turns, amusingly edgy and sentimental. Touching on Lizzie's secret, I appreciate the self-aware wit when Lizzie complains to Owen that she hates the way the movies portray "suffering mother love" when he suggests they take in a movie, one specifically titled "Stella Davenport in Mother's Day".

Lizzie is a wonderful showcase for Ruth Donnelly during her prolific time at Warner Brothers. Although the more you see of her work, the more you realize she made even the seemingly insignificant roles a showcase.

Ruth Donnelly made her Broadway debut in 1917 and worked often as a comedienne for George M. Cohan. The last of her 14 Broadway plays was as understudy to Patsy Kelly in the 1971 revival of No, No Nanette. She toured with the production starring Don Ameche and Evelyn Keyes.

You can share some of my favourite Ruth Donnelly performances by checking out these movies: Blessed Event, Employees' Entrance, Footlight Parade, Havana Widows, Female, Heat Lighting, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, A Slight Case of Murder, The Bells of St. Mary's, The Snake Pit, I'd Climb the Highest Mountain, The Secret of Convict Lake, A Lawless Street, and Autumn Leaves.

Ruth was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1896. Her uncle, Frederick W. Donnelly was the Democratic mayor of Trenton from 1911 to 1932. Ruth was a lifelong Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 election. Ruth was married to airline executive Basil de Guichard from 1932 until his passing in 1958. 

After retiring from acting, Ruth released an album of her own songs, produced by Oscar-winning composer and arranger Ken Darby. Ruth Donnelly passed away in New York City in 1982 at the age of 86.

Monday, February 17, 2020

FAVOURITE MOVIES: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

I first saw I Wake Up Screaming in my teen years thanks to TV Ontario's Saturday Night at the Movies. I have vivid memories of my reaction to the story, the characters, and its glorious shadows. I was enthralled and wondered if there were more movies like it.

The screenplay is by Dwight Taylor (Top Hat) and Steven Fisher (Dead Reckoning), based on Fisher's novel. The pair also collaborated on the screenplay for the Vicki, the 1953 remake of this movie.

Versatile and consistently entertaining H. Bruce Humberstone was the director and the breathtaking dark palette is courtesy of cinematographer Edward Cronjager. Besides I Wake Up Screaming, Humberstone and Cronjager gave Twentieth Century Fox the following features: Bird of Paradise, Rascals, Sun Valley Serenade, and To the Shores of Tripoli.

Musically, the stage is set with the use of Alfred Newman's Street Scene, in the studio library since that 1931 movie. There is no doubt you are New York City. The ear gets a little whiplash when a gentle instrumental version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is used as a love theme for two characters and the mind wonders where that came from, but we go on.

Much of the story of I Wake Up Screaming unfolds in flashback as characters recount their relationship to the murdered Vicky Lynn played by Carole Landis. The police are relentless in their interrogations and Lt. Ed Cornell (This is noir and we must have a Cornell.) played by imposing Laird Craiger has already selected his suspect.

Frankie Christopher played with cocky assurance by Victor Mature was the man in Vicky's life. Not in the way everyone is assuming, but appearances are everything in these matters. Frankie is a well-known sports and entertainment promoter. A late night stop at a diner with has-been actor Robin Ray played by Alan Mowbray and newspaper columnist Larry Evans played by Allyn Joslyn brings attractive and sassy waitress Vicky into their lives.

On a whim, Frankie decides to "promote" Vicky. She'll be seen in the right clothes, in the right nightspots, and with the right people. Robin and Larry are eager to go along and before you know it another celebrity is foisted upon an unsuspecting and eager public.

The only one who doesn't seem pleased for Vicky's rising fortune is her sister Jill played by Betty Grable. The office worker is worried that Vicky is getting above herself and is headed for a fall. And Jill does not like Frankie Christopher one bit. Actually, she likes Frankie too much while wishing this whole turn in their fortunes would stop.

Vicky only likes Frankie for what he has been able to do for her, and she runs with her opportunities. Vicky made a successful screen test and will be leaving her sister and the New York crowd behind for a life in Hollywood.

Even before her newfound lifestyle, Vicky always managed to attract people. The switchboard boy at their apartment building, Harry Williams played by Elisha Cook Jr. is slavishly devoted to Vicky while trying to appear nonchalant. Jill remembers that for a time Vicky was being stalked by a scary-looking man. The police believe Jill has made this character up to protect Frankie.

The murder mystery unfolds with perfectly plausible red herrings and suspects. The clues tracked down by our hunted couple make sense as we follow them on the run through the city. Even when you are certain you know who killed Vicky, you may have another twist in store. It is not so much the solution to the crime that holds you to I Wake Up Screaming, it is the atmosphere of the city at night and the dread of the authorities consistently tightening the noose around an innocent man. It is the anxiety in the chase that propels the movie. The odds are against Frankie and Jill while a sweet love story plays out beneath the shadows.

The well-paced story, appealing cast, and the interesting angles which heighten the tension keep the audience interested and on their toes in I Wake Up Screaming which can lay claim to being the first of the great films-noir from Twentieth Century Fox.

Of note:

Betty and Carole were perfectly cast as sisters here as in their other 1941 release, the splashy Technicolor comedy Moon Over Miami. I Wake Up Screaming was the first teaming of Betty Grable and Victor Mature, with their three later films all being musical-comedies beginning with Footlight Serenade.

PS: For those who like spotting Morris Ankrum, Charles Lane or Frank Orth in their movies, you're in luck! And William Gargan fans can rejoice.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

FAVOURITE MOVIES: Call Me Madam, 1953

Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam opened on Broadway on October 12, 1950, and closed on May 3, 1952. A hit with audiences and critics, the show won the Tony Award for Berlin for Best Original Score, for Ethel Merman for Best Actress in a Musical, for Russell Nype as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and for carpenter Pete Feller for Stage Technician.

The Twentieth Century Fox film of Call Me Madam opened in March of 1953. Ethel Merman (Sally) and Lilia Skala (Countess) were the only members of the Broadway production cast in the movie. Alfred Newman won the Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Motion Picture and Irene Sharaff was nominated for Best Costume Design, Color. Ethel Merman was the recipient of the Golden Globe for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy. Walter Lang was nominated by the Directors Guild of America and the Cannes Film Festival.

The song Lichtenburg used in the film was truncated from the Broadway version. Broadway's Once Upon a Time Today was switched for What Chance Have I With Love? from the 1940 show Louisina Purchase, and the Washington Square Dance was omitted. Irving Berlin's deal at this time with Twentieth Century Fox called for two more films which would turn out to be two films recycling Irving's greatest hits,  There's No Business Like Show Business with Ethel Merman and Donald O'Connor from Call Me Madam and White Christmas.

The Hostess with the Mostes

Sally Adams, an oil-rich Oklahoman widow has become the most popular hostess in Washington, D.C. where all sorts of disparate politicians and movers-and-shakers gather to work out their issues in a neutral zone. Sally's parties and Sally's friendship with President Harry Truman lands the ebullient woman the post of Ambassador to the tiny country of Lichtenburg. Beyond that formidable personality, Sally is little qualified for the assignment and takes on an assistant, Kenneth Gibson played by Donald O'Connor.

Can You Use Any Money Today?

Arriving in Lichtenburg Sally is confronted by the hoity-toity Pemberton Maxwell, who is in charge of the Embassy. This is Billy De Wolfe playing his hoity-toity best. Sally is under orders from Harry to not loan any money to Lichtenburg. Lichtenburg is desperate for money to pay the dowry of Princess Maria played by Vera-Ellen. We know her intended, Helmut Dentine as Prince Hugo needs the money for his country but it is not made clear what Lichtenburg gets out of this deal. Princess Maria doesn't seem too excited for the marriage.

Two of Lichtenburg's fawning politicians, Prime Minister Sebastian played by Stefan Geray and the treasurer August Tantinnin played by Walter Slezak do their best fawning toward Mrs. Adams without shaking her resolve to follow orders.

Marrying for Love

However, when General Cosmo Constantine played by George Sanders puts in an appearance Sally melts. The suave Cosmo enchants the new Ambassador. She is willing to give him the entire treasury. Cosmo is honest when he says he does not want money for his country. He has a plan to make Lichtenburg self-sufficient. Hoity-toity Maxwell convinces Sally that it is a ploy on Cosmo's part and her romantic dreams are shattered.

It's a Lovely Day Today

Kenneth needs a high hat for the presentation at the palace and while shopping he meets a lovely girl interested in the newest things from America: music, and Kenneth. Sparks fly, singing and dancing ensues, and Kenneth is shocked to discover the lovely girl is Princess Maria. Will her title stand in the way of true romance, not to mention her engagement to Prince Hugo?

The International Rag

Sally wobbles her curtsy to the Grand Duke and Duchess, played by Ludwig Stossel and Lilia Skala, and is flustered by Cosmo's attentions which she has been led to believe are false. However, Sally breaks the ice with the tradition-bound Lichtenburgians with a rousing routine of Irving Berlin's 1913 hit The International Rag. Talk about a trunk song!

Kenneth and Princess Maria break their own ice with a dance in the garden much to the chagrin of Prince Hugo.

You're Just in Love

Sally and Kenneth commiserate over their apparently doomed romances with Irving's hit counterpoint number that saved the second act of Call Me Madam. The duet was recorded by Rosemary Clooney and Guy Mitchell, Perry Como, and The Fontane Sisters, Ethel with Dick Haymes, Dinah Shore with Russell Nype, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby, and Jane Horrocks and Ewan McGregor for starters. Irving's last great song.

The Ocarina

The annual Lichtenburg Fair is a big deal. Sally gets hit on by Tantinnin. The Treasurer is rebuffed perfectly. Sally is helpless in the face of Cosmo's attention. Princess Maria, who is very interested in singing, acting, and dancing performs The Ocarina to the delight of the fair-goers. Maria and Kenneth spend some little time together before Prince Hugo practically threatens a duel with his rival. Note: Julie Newmar, Barrie Chase, and George Chakiris are among the dancing throng.

What Chance Have I With Love?

Kenneth drowns his sorrows to the equally sorrowful sorrows of the publican who wants to close up and go home to bed. Kenneth will not leave before singing and dancing his troubles away in one of my favourite Donald O'Connor routines. He's drunk and there are balloons. Let your imagination go from there.

Something to Dance About

Sally arranges for Kenneth and Maria to meet (accidentally) in the not-so-secret tunnels between the Embassy and the Palace. The couple dances their affection in this peppy and endearing tune. The hopelessness of their fate leads to Sally and Kenneth reprising You're Just in Love.

The Best Thing for You Would be Me

A pretty love song speaks the truth of Sally and Cosmo's feelings. Sally, believing in Maxwell's insight into Cosmo's reverse psychology to get the money wants to do all she can for him. The money will put a crimp in Kenneth's aspirations and, knowing Cosmo's sincerity, he will be equally displeased. Sally has botched things royally and is recalled to Washington.

Mrs. Sally Adams

Naturally, Sally throws a party her first night back and surprises (not really surprises for fans of musical comedy) are in store.

Call Me Madam is a delight. The play was brought to the screen with a gorgeous color palette and wonderful performers handling the Berlin tunes with aplomb. The digs at the political world haven't changed one bit! Check out the Senators played by Emory Parnell, Charles Dingle, and Percy Helton.

Donald O'Connor and Vera-Ellen make a wonderful team, and it is a shame this was their only movie pairing.

What a treat to hear George Sander's musical talent! It is another shame that Hollywood didn't utilize that side of George more often.

With the exception of a bit in Stage Door Canteen, 1943 Ethel Merman's last movie role was in 1938. The above is from that year's release Alexander's Ragtime Band. Well, what do you know? Another Irving Berlin picture. Ah well, Hollywood's loss was Broadway's gain.

Of note:

The 1949 TIME magazine cover of Perle Reid Mesta (1889-1975), the socialite and political hostess who received an appointment as Ambassador to Luxembourg and was the inspiration for Call Me Madam book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, music by Irving Berlin.

Ethel Merman with her Broadway Cosmo Constantine, Paul Lukas.

A charming interpretation of You're Just in Love by Chet Atkins.

Monday, February 3, 2020


Gill is hosting The James Garner Blogathon at her site Realweegiemidget Reviews. Take part in all the affection and admiration HERE. Follow-up: DAY 2 and DAY 3

James Garner as Bret Maverick

The television western Maverick (1957-1962) is the only series to be awarded the Emmy for Best Western Series. The year was 1959 and with the surfeit of westerns aired on television, it was the only year the television academy featured that category. You can read about the award and the nominees here.

Roy Huggins' (The Fugitive, The Rockford Files) creation was a follow-up to his success with Cheyenne starring Clint Walker. His winning formula was to turn the archetypal western loner/hero into gamblers with their own wry code of self-preservation.

James Garner's appealing personality and talent as Bret Maverick made him an instant hit with the audience and one of the most over-worked actors at Warner Brothers. Easing that burden was the addition of the equally charming Jack Kelly as Bret's brother, Bart Maverick. Episodes were usually assigned to one or the other, but audiences always looked forward to the combination of Mavericks as in one of the series' most popular episodes, Shady Deal at Sunny Acres

Robert Colbert, Roger Moore, Jack Kelly

James Garner would leave Maverick after three seasons in a legal dispute with the studio, becoming one of the first major television stars to have a thriving motion picture career. Throughout his career, James Garner would easily travel back and forth from the large to small screens in quality projects. Jack Kelly's Bart would be joined for the final three seasons by Maverick cousins Beau played by Roger Moore (The Saint) and Brent played by Robert Colbert (The Time Tunnel).

James Garner, Susan Blanchard, Charles Frank

The first Maverick sequel was 1979's Young Maverick starring Charles Frank as the Harvard-educated Ben Maverick, son of Beau, who inherited the family gene for gambling and adventure. Susan Blanchard played love-interest Nell McGarrahan. John Dehner co-starred as Marshal Troy. The series followed a 1978 TV movie, The New Maverick. I found the program a delight, but CBS only ran 8 episodes. Hardly enough time to build up an audience. Note: Charles and Susan have been married since 1977.

Darleen Carr, James Garner

NBC showed James Garner in Bret Maverick for 18 episodes in 1981. Bret has settled down and owns a stake in a saloon so instead of riding into trouble, trouble comes to him. Audiences didn't get to see brother Bart planned second season visit.

Let's enjoy memories of those early days when Bret and Bart Maverick rode the television range with a look at three outstanding episodes of Maverick.

Written by Montgomery Pittman
Directed by Richard L. Bare
First aired Sunday, April 13, 1958

Jack Kelly, James Garner

Mistaken identities and a bank robbery play into this final episode of the first season of Maverick. On his way to Yuma, Bret is persuaded to remain in a small town with the promise of "real eastern turkey with sage stuffing and two kinds of gravy; thickening and speckling." He is a little nonplussed by the idea the townsfolk are under the impression that he is Doc Holliday, but "two kinds of gravy!"

When Bart shows up, Bret still hasn't had his fill of turkey, or of Joi Lansing as a pretty widow, so he lets it slip that his brother just might be Wyatt Earp. After all, Bart likes good food and pretty widows as much as the next guy.

The sheriff played by Frank Ferguson and his fellow citizens are anxious that two such reputable gunmen as "Doc" and Earp are in town because they need help dealing with Jim Mundy played by Myron Healey and his gang. These cousins of the Clanton's are notorious trouble-makers and it is feared they have designs on the town's bank which is central to its business survival.

The sheriff is not wrong. Mundy has brought a dancer to town played by Adele Mara (Mrs. Roy Huggins) to provide noisy and distracting entertainment on the night the bank is filled with a mine payroll and ripe for the picking. The fetching dancer and Bart knew each other in the past and the gang suspects Bart of suspecting them so they arrange for the unarmed Maverick to be shot and framed for precipitating a gunfight.

Bart: "Bret, you're not planning anything old-fashioned, are you? You know, like, uh, getting revenge for an only brother?"
Bret: "I'm not mad at anybody. They didn't shoot me."
Bart: "That's right. I certainly wouldn't do anything about it if it was the other way around."

Bret, of course, can't let things go and his detecting ultimately foils the robbery. A hefty reward goes with Bret's success which he splits with Bart, in the ever-constant hope of winning back the full share.

Gerald Mohr as "Doc" Holliday

The coda features the real Doc Holliday played by Gerald Mohr. He played Doc in two of the seven episodes he guested on throughout the series.

Written by Marion Hargrove
Adapted from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
First aired on Sunday, January 25, 1959 

Pat Crowley, James Garner

Sheridan's classic comedy-of-manners The Rivals was a great success in 1775, a favourite with the public, with royalty, and with George Washington. Making sport of the silly and the wealthy will never go out of fashion. Marion Hargrove (See Here, Private Hargrove) adapted the farce for Maverick and it has become one of its popular episodes.

Bret has plans to play the casino at an exclusive resort. It won't be easy to gain entrance to such a place, but the name of Vandergelt opens many doors. Prior to his role as cousin Beau, Roger Moore received top billing along with Garner and Kelly in this episode. His character bears the name of Jack Vandergelt III, but he desires an alias. Bret can be bought for $1,000 a week to play games of chance while the other "Bret" plays games of the heart.

Miss Lydia Lynley played by Patricia Crowley is a young lady with stars in her eyes and a dream in her heart. She longs for a romantic suitor in the fashion of Heathcliffe or Sidney Carton. She refuses all suitors of her class while she seeks a poor but honest soul. Thus, Vandergelt III plans to woo Lydia through the guise of Bret Maverick. Could anything be more uncomplicated?

Barbara Jo Allen, known for her character Vera Vague is perfectly cast in the Mrs. Malaprop role of Lydia's guardian Mrs. Mallaver. Sandra Gould is Lydia's scatterbrained maid. Dan Tobin plays Lucius Benson a thwarted yet ever hopeful suitor of the muddle-headed heiress. William Allyn plays a compatriot of Vandergelt's who can't keep a secret.

Neal Hamilton plays old Brigadier Vandergelt who is determined to marry his son to a suitable young lady, and the young lady he has chosen is - you guessed it - Miss Lydia Lynley. Deceptions and a duel lead to the inevitable conclusion. Jack III gets girl, and Bret discovers that unless your name really is Vandergelt, Stuyvesant or Astor, they won't let you into the casino.

Pat Crowley, Roger Moore

Jack: "It's no life for you, Lydia - polo ponies, a yacht."
Lydia: "That doesn't matter. I'd marry you if you were the richest man in the world."


  Pat Crowley and James Garner in The Rockford Files, 1979

Teleplay by Gene L. Coon and Story by Montgomery Pittman
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
First aired on Sunday, February 15, 1959

James Garner, Wayde Preston

Bret rides into Bent City with Waco Williams played by Wayde Preston (Colt .45). At first glance, they don't appear to be particularly chummy, but Bret is awfully concerned with Waco's well-being. There must be a pot of gold at the end of this dusty rainbow.

Bent City is a nervous town being only a few weeks out of a range war and strangers are not looked upon kindly. We know from his letter writing to Bart that Bret expects a payoff for keeping Waco alive, but it won't be easy. Waco is thoroughly honest and upright, annoyingly so. He doesn't go looking for trouble but trouble naturally finds him. Waco's fast draw, wicked right, and steadfast adherence to the principles of right over wrong will always find him in trouble.

Future Oscar Winner Louise Fletcher

A stubborn rancher, Colonel Bent played by R.G. Armstrong is determined to rid the town of a possible rustler or gunman, which is how he sees Waco. Waco has given the Colonel's son a well-deserved beating and it is not the sort of thing that can be overlooked. The Colonel's pretty daughter played by Louise Fletcher has a different point of view and tries to help the stranger with the honourable code.

Waco is meeting a man who once did him a good turn in an effort to get the man to turn himself in to the law for a misdeed. Bret wants to capture that same man for the $2,500 reward on his head. Neither Waco nor Bret will be successful in their endeavour. Nonetheless, Waco will be seen by all to be the winner in what we might call the Battle of Bent City. Bret breaks the fourth wall to share his feelings about Waco and the pretty rancher's daughter he's going to marry.

Bret: "Now, he did everything a man shouldn't do, but he's still alive. Looks like he'll be elected sheriff. I know he'll end up with the biggest ranch in the territory. And I'm broke. Nobody even knows I'm leaving or cares. Could I be wrong?"

The Saga of Waco Williams will feel very familiar to fans of The Rockford Files (1974-1980) and the two guest appearances by Tom Selleck as private investigator Lance White, White on White and Nearly Perfect, 1978 and Nice Guys Finish Dead, 1979.


 Wayde Preston and James Garner in A Man Called Sledge, 1970

Can't get enough of Maverick?

Guess Who

You might enjoy some of the sage advice offered up to Bret and Bart by their "Pappy", Beauregard HERE.


Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon . The popular blogathon is runn...