Original air date Oct 27, 1957
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Teleplay by George Slavin
James Garner as Bret Maverick
Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick
Erin O'Brien as Linda Harris
Ray Teal as Mart Fallon
Edd Byrnes as Wes Fallon
Peter Brown as Rip Fallon
Chubby Johnson as Simmons
Michael Dante as Sam Harris
Jim Bannon as Matson
Howard Negley as Sheriff Tibbs
Fern Barry as Ella Taylor
Buddy Shaw as Davy Taylor
Ollie O'Toole as McLean
"Stage West" utilized a fairly common plot device as its secondary story, the outlaw family with one member (usually the youngest) who is good or would like to be good or who with a little help could choose the right path. Of course, the primary focus was on the classic Bret Maverick ability to combine smooth talk, action and trickery to get himself out of a tight situation.
Peter Brown plays the good son here. He would frequently play this type of role which became his forte in the first decade of his career, a young man coming of age in some way: finding his manhood, his courage, his integrity, his goals, etc.
Edd Byrnes, who plays the bad brother here, had the makings of a wonderful psycho villain had he not been cast as the jive-talking Kookie in 77 Sunset Strip in 1958. He played a similar villain in the premiere episode of Peter Brown's series Lawman.
Ray Teal, bad daddy Fallon, was best known as Sheriff Roy Coffee for many years on Bonanza. However, he has an impressive filmography of nasty villains, affable heroes and sometimes affable villains.
The story opens with Mart Fallon with his sons Wes and Rip holding Sam Harris and his partner Matson at gunpoint to get directions to Harris' gold mine. To Rip's dismay, Wes kills Harris. Their attention turns to Matson who has never been to the mine. To save his own life, Matson tells them there's someone due at the Packsaddle stage stop who has a map to the mine. He won't say more until he feels safe.
Peter was top notch in his ability to display uncertainty, insecurity, fear, false bravado or whatever he had to get over to take charge of his life. In fact, his role as the young deputy in the series Lawman who was learning the right of the law enforcement trade from a mentor of steely integrity, had many elements of this coming of age theme.
At the stage stop, Mart has Rip rush in claiming he saw the dust from the stage coach on the ridge. Thus Matson is tricked into telling them the person on the stage with the map is Harris' wife. He gets a knife in the back from Wes in reward. Rip is angry at this wanton butchery.
Maverick arrives before the Fallons can dump Matson's body so they prop him up at the table as though he's asleep. When the passengers arrive, Mart poses as Harris' partner so Mrs. Harris will lead him to the mine. Maverick takes a little while to assess the situation then lets the wife know that he found Harris before he died and knows where the mine is. However, it's in the middle of Indian country and he was almost killed escaping.
During the rest of the episode, the power changes several times. Maverick tries to play Rip against the other two while also playing on Mart's greed. Indians attack looking for Maverick who killed some braves in his escape. They get Matson's body instead. Bret gets the drop on the Fallons but offers to sell his map. When Wes goes to their ranch to collect the money, he comes back with two revolvers stuck in his boot.
After the money and map exchange hands, Wes and Mart try to kill Maverick. Rip tries to stop them, resulting in Wes getting killed and Mart shot by Maverick. Simmons thinks Mrs. Harris should be mad about Maverick giving Fallon the map to the mine. She's not. In the end, Maverick gives the wife the money to take home to her son, telling her the mine has nothing more than fool's gold (as though being in the middle of Indian country was not a sufficient deterrent to trying to work it.)
NiteOwl Review: Despite Warners attempts to make it on the cheap, this episode, as well as all the best James Garner episodes of Maverick, (and many of the Jack Kelly episodes) hold up very well, largely due to the efforts in the beginning of James Garner and Roy Huggins. "Stage West," despite being based on a Louis L'Amour story, is full of classic Maverick-isms. For an excellent overview of the series and its creation check out Ed Robertson's book Maverick, Legend of the West. All the main guest players in this episode were classic western players.
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