Case Number 26558: Small Claims Court


Warner Bros. // 1959 // 1300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // November 9th, 2013

The Charge

"The only time you ever quit while you're winning is when you've won it all." -- Bret Maverick, quoting his Pappy

Opening Statement

James Garner didn't stick around to take his own advice; the 1959-60 season of Maverick was his last (although he eventually returned to the role of Bret Maverick). Still, there are quite a few triumphant stories in Maverick: The Complete Third Season, including Bret Maverick's stint as a sheriff and a surprisingly (for Maverick) heartwarming story in which he considers adopting a Guatemalan street kid. Jack Kelly, playing brother Bart, also had some great moments, most notably a run for state senate.

I did notice that Maverick: The Complete Third Season is a made-on-demand DVD from Warner Archives, which suggests that the studio is still staying in the game despite soft sales.

Facts of the Case

Maverick: The Complete Third Season contains twenty-six episodes on six discs:

Disc One
* "Pappy" -- Pappy Maverick (also James Garner) is tying the knot, and Bret and Bart have a few objections, especially when they realize the inlaws are rather murderous. Adam West (Batman) is one of those inlaws.

* "Royal Four Flush" -- A countess about to be married gets a bit flush when Bart (Jack Kelly, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries) recognizes her as a card dealer. Her intended's kids are more trouble than the gambler, though.

* "The Sheriff of Duck 'n' Shoot" -- Bret gets the credit for KO'ing a tough guy, when it really was a horse's kick. Now, he's sheriff -- and both he and the town may wish they'd appointed the horse instead.

* "You Can't Beat the Percentage" -- After failing to cheat Bart at cards, a saloon owner gives the gambler the floor manager job. He's asked to stop a gunman -- and accused of doing it permanently.

Disc Two
* "The Cats of Paradise" -- Bart joins Modesty Blaine (Mona Freeman, The World Was His Jury) in a cat roundup to rid a small town of its rats. She cuts him out with the help of her sheriff beau (Buddy Ebsen, The Beverly Hillbillies).

* "A Tale of Three Cities" -- Bart reports a stickup and ends up on stage out of town. His odyssey includes a second run-in with the robber and a clash with poker cheats.

* "Full House" -- Bret finds himself in a hotel surrounded by famous outlaws, including Billy the Kid (Joel Grey, Oz), who think he's their ringleader. He comes up with a rather silly scheme to rob the Denver mint, but it just might work.

* "The Lass with the Poisonous Air" -- Bart's new lady friend turns out to have a husband. Bart has another admirer, too, in the person of the stable man's granddaughter.

Disc Three
* "The Ghost Soldiers" -- Bret, under Army escort, ends up stuck in a fort that's about to be attacked by the Sioux. Naturally, the gambler has a plan.

* "Easy Mark" -- Bart finds the heir to a railroad fortune protecting the cactus that he's about to drink from. Bart ends up protecting the heir aboard a private train.

* "A Fellow's Brother" -- Bounty hunters are after Bret -- or is it Bart? Anyway, the man Bret was trying to collect a gambling debt from is dead, and Bart may be, too. Adam West turns up again.

* "Trooper Maverick" -- A colonel drafts Bart into the Army. It seems he needs a shady screwup to solve a mystery.

Disc Four
* "Maverick Springs" -- Bret heads to Saratoga Springs to bring a rancher's brother back to Texas. Something smells funny, though, so he concocts a scheme involving a stinky spring. Bret tangles with Melanie Blake (Kathleen Crowley, The Phantom Stagecoach).

* "The Goose-Drownder" -- Friends Bart and Gentleman Jack Darby (Richard Long, The Big Valley) are stranded by the storm. Rather than come to blows, they take an interest in a shooting victim and his "sister."

* "A Cure For Johnny Rain" -- Bret identifies the stagecoach robber who's terrorizing a town as their local hero. He could end up with a badge again, since the bad guy's so nice no one else would hang him.

* "The Marquessa" -- Bart wins a cantina in a poker game, only to discover another claim on the property. Friend Ned Wingate (Edward Ashley, Darby's Rangers) turns up to sort out the fakers.

Disc Five
* "Cruise of the Cynthia B" -- Agatha Christie fans will spot a parody of And Then There Were None, as Bret and Modesty Blaine both have shares in a ship whose co-owners are being bumped off.

* "Maverick & Juliet" -- When you mix Shakespeare with the Hatfields and McCoys, you find Bret and Bart trying to settle the feud by going up against each other at poker.

* "The White Widow" -- After a late-night poker game, Bart puts his money in the hotel safe and heads up to his room -- Room 13. In the morning, the money's gone, and the clerk is a goner.

* "Guatemala City" -- Bret's in Guatemala in search of a lover; there's a $25,000 reward out on her, after all. A street thief lends a hand, but the kid wants the gambler to adopt her.

* "The People's Friend" -- As the only one in town who's not interested in the state senate race, Bart's observant enough to stop an assassination attempt. Somehow, that makes him a candidate.

Disc Six
* "A Flock of Trouble" -- Bret is eager to take over the ranch he won -- until he finds it's sheep, not cattle, and there are some cattle owners who want to shear the shepherds.

* "Iron Hand" -- A broke Bart joins a cattle drive. Naturally, the cattle are bought with counterfeit money. Robert Redford guests.

* "The Resurrection of Joe November" -- It's New Orleans at Mardi Gras, and Bret's asked to dig up a corpse. It sounds easy, but the fact that the guy's still alive makes it harder.

* "The Misfortune Teller" -- Bret can't get answers when he walks into a town and is arrested for the mayor's murder. However, his lawyer is willing to tell him his lifeline's rather short. He again meets Melanie Blake.

* "Greenbacks, Unlimited" -- The marshal in Denver asks Bret to find out who's about to rob the bank. Bret asks a friend, who just happens to have lodgings adjacent to the bank's vault.

The Evidence

The packaging for Maverick: The Complete Third Season has James Garner, who went to movie stardom and The Rockford Files, all over it. However, you might pay a little more attention to Jack Kelly, who took over the lead in 1960; he's proving as entertainingly mischievous as Garner this season.

I just happened to watch "The People's Friend" on election day, and found it as timely as ever. Even if the story's familiar, Bart makes an impressive impromptu speech, making no firm promises or stands while scaring his opponent into a worried scowl. There's a similar great moment in "A Tale of Three Cities" as a broke, hungry Bart agrees to speak about the evils of gambling to a women's group for a meal. There, his speech twists all the Pappy-isms he and his brother have been spouting. Bart also has developed a habit of comically disrupting brother Bret's adventures. I found myself chuckling at Bart's antics as much as I did at Bret's.

That's even more amazing if you consider that James Garner got more of the high-concept stories: "The Sheriff of Duck 'n' Shoot" makes him the kind of sheriff who would bet on a bar fight rather than break it up; "Full House" finds him trying to bust the likes of Jesse James and Jim Dalton while appearing to help them; "The Ghost Soldiers" plays irreverently with a typical story of a fort under siege ("We'll see it the way it really happened," Bret says in his narration after briefly telling a story of Army heroism); and "A Cure for Johnny Rain" finds Bret dealing with an amnesiac robber.

The picture quality isn't perfect -- you'll note lots of flecks and flaws -- but it's watchable. The DVD box warns that it might not work on all players, but I've tried it on both a DVD player and a computer with no trouble.

There are no extras.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The comedy of Maverick by now involves a healthy understanding of how the brothers will act and react. That provides some pearls, but it also provides three variations on Bret robbing a bank himself to catch someone who intends to rob it. It's still funny, but the twists are getting kind of obvious. You might suspect that Maverick could have been tedious if it had lasted into the era of color broadcasts.

Closing Statement

If you're already familiar with Maverick, look over the episode titles; buying Maverick: The Complete Third Season is a no-brainer, especially if you've bought previous sets.

However, it's likely, considering the switch to MOD release, that you could find a bargain on the first two sets, an observation confirmed by a quick check on

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 1300 Minutes
Release Year: 1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb