Only now does it occur to me... that MAVERICK is a real "Donner Party." By that, I don't mean that it involves cannibalism, torture, or Mel Gibson Jesus-poses,
Though if this isn't in his contract, I'll eat my hat.
instead I mean that its director, Richard Donner, has packed the film with actors and references from other "Donner" films.
Obviously, it stars Mel Gibson (of 4 Donner LETHAL WEAPONS and a CONSPIRACY THEORY), but there's plenty more where that came from.
Margot Kidder (Donner's SUPERMAN 1 & 2, he also produced her appearances in TALES FROM THE CRYPT and DELIRIOUS) shows up as a grouchy spinster obsessed with a stolen wedding dress:
Alfred Molina (Donner's LADYHAWKE) appears as a recurring villain and instrument of Gibson-torture:
Stephen Kahan ("Captain Murphy" from all 4 LETHAL WEAPONS, but also appeared in Donner's SUPERMAN, INSIDE MOVES, THE TOY, SCROOGED, CONSPIRACY THEORY, 16 BLOCKS, RADIO FLYER, TIMELINE and a few TALES FROM THE CRYPTs) plays a riverboat card dealer, who shares an unusual interaction with Mel Gibson, whereupon he congratulates him on his win (with familiarity), and takes the chair with him as he stands, prompting Mel to nearly crack up.
Then, for the piéce de résistance: Mel Gibson and Geoffrey Lewis are shootin' the shit inside a bank when three robbers bust in to relieve them of their wallets and blow the safe. The lead robber piques Mel Gibson's interest and there is a note of recognition.
He pulls down the robber's bandana to reveal Murtaugh himself, Danny Glover:
And to the strains of the LETHAL WEAPON theme, they share a moment, then decide––nahh, this ridiculous. Glover goes on his way, revealing the rest of his gang:
Corey Feldman (of Donner's THE GOONIES, and the Donner-produced THE LOST BOYS and BORDELLO OF BLOOD), country musician Hal Ketchum, and apparently transportation coordinator John M. Woodward, who coordinated such on LETHAL WEAPONS 2-4, CONSPIRACY THEORY, and TIMELINE. I think that qualifies as a Donner Party!
Oh yeah, and even in the Wild West, Danny Glover is getting...
...too old for this shit.
BONUS QUIZ: Can you identify which of the following pictures are screen captures from MAVERICK (featuring the lush cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond), and which are Western Americana picture postcards?
It's a cheap trick question––they're all screen captures from MAVERICK!
PS––and apparently, the brilliant Linda Hunt (THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, THE BOSTONIANS, KINDERGARTEN COP) and my fave glam rocker Alice Cooper had their scenes deleted (damn!) as "The Magician" and "The Town Drunk," respectively.