Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week Fifty: Maverick

Maverick is another one I hadn’t seen since I was a kid… I guess I’m on a streak of re-watching Westerns from my childhood. It wasn’t as funny as I recalled but I admire the film more regardless.

This is just a well-crafted motion picture with veteran Richard Donner at the helm (the kind of director who would be making a Western every other year in the old studio system) and a cast of fun, reliable actors. Gibson is still in his leading man mode, only showing brief (but entertaining) glimpses of his crazier side. Jodie is the most alluring she’s ever been in a movie, proof that she can play pretty much anything if she wants to. Garner brings the charm and history. It blows my mind that Gibson could have ever considered Paul Newman for the role… I guess at that point, the twist wasn’t written in!

In most good Westerns, the supporting deserves as much credit as the leads. Here, that’s definitely the case with Coburn and Molina coming in strong as the heavies. Graham Greene plays parody well and the various other cameos are a delight, especially Glover’s moment.

Roger Ebert said something to the effect of, “This movie doesn’t have to call attention to the fact that it’s a Western. It just is.” The statement is quite true. Unlike most films of its era, Maverick doesn’t justify its existence. It doesn’t have to. And that’s refreshing.

I could have done without the random country score over the film’s final quarter and as many jokes missed as those that landed but this is a solid film. It’s too bad they didn’t make more of these instead of beating the Lethal Weapon series to death. Oh well.

Seen on VHS.