Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Only now does it occur to me... MAVERICK

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.


Cannon said...

Donner Party

Son-of-a-bitch. To you, sir, I tip my hat (black Dakota with a leather-braided silver band) on what just might be the single greatest historical-to-Hollywood crossover play on words ever. Can’t be topped. I won't even try. However, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the film's accessory music video that expands said Party to that of the near span of early '90s CMT pantheon, The 'Maverick Choir' rendition of Amazing Grace.


What a hotdogin' event this must have been. The Supergroup USA for Africa can keep their weepy, self-congratulating 'We Are the World' pretense. In its place, I'll gladly take this knee-slapping, hoedown gospel mosaic of big hair, black blazers and bright denim blues; the then who's who of Country Western music, from the burgeoning, CD cover photogenic to the esteem elder statesmen/women:

John Anderson, Randy Archer, Clint Black, Suzy Bogguss, Gary Chapman, Billy Dean, Radney Foster, James Garner, Amy Grant, Noel Haggard, Faith Hill, Waylon Jennings, Hal Ketchum, Tracy Lawrence, Kathy Mattea, Reba McEntire, John Michael Montgomery, Michael Omartian, Johnny Park, Eddie Rabbitt, Restless Heart, Ricky Van Shelton, Danny Shirley, Larry Stewart, Joy White & Tammy Wynette

This is back when the genre had established its post-80s comfort gloss while still maintaining that special pressed shirts, Sunday luncheon tackiness of red state America. Even the video's setting -- gold backlit haystack loft -- perfectly encapsulates the idyllic living of contemporary rural riches. And any cynic quick to dismiss it all as crass studio artifice, I myself like to think the whole affair is but a fragment hint of the good times, fond regales and heartily laughs that must have been shared during the recording session which actually took place at none other than Amy Grant's ranch!

Lastly, Gibson himself. Seated front and center in all his contained psychotic swagger and embracing the "divine spirit" as can only be afforded through high-end Country Music entertainment.

Sean Gill said...


Very glad you enjoyed. This Maverick Choir you've sent along is a magnificent fusion of kitsch, sincerity, and enthusiastic air-fiddle. Gibson himself seems at times uncharacteristically subdued; yet elsewhere he's the crazy-eyed clappin' machine we know and love. Your description and read on the whole hotdoggin' affair is amazingly spot-on––ah, to be a fly on the wall!