Nearly 30 years on: Remembering 1994’s Maverick

Released in 1994, the film “Maverick” will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in May 2024, as it continues to be a movie enjoyed by many worldwide.

For those who are unaware, it is an excellent movie that follows a world-class romantic hero on his way to a high-stakes poker tournament organized on a paddle steamer that is called the Lauren Belle.

The movie has a stellar cast, with Mel Gibson portraying the lead character Bret Maverick, who was based on the character of the same name, which appeared in the American Western television series between 1957 and 1962 created by Roy Huggins and starred James Garner.

Maverick would be depicted as an articulate poker player who would look to test himself against everyone he could while traveling across the 19th Wild West on riverboats and in saloons across the region.

Maverick achieved critical and commercial success

The film was able to achieve huge success during its release, and continues to rank highly among those that utilize the Wild West as its theme. 

According to data, it still ranks sixth on the list in terms of the amount that was grossed to feature the Western theme. During its box office run, it achieved revenues of $183 million worldwide, which made it one of the highest at the time of release. The budget of the film was $75 million.

Favorable reviews were also given during its release, with critics generally liking what they saw. Some mentioned that while it wasn’t deep, it was very witty and provided a good blend of comedy and action that was easy to follow.

Portland Sternwheel Steamboat was used

The main event of this film was the fact that Maverick was looking to join a major five-card draw poker tournament as he intended to prove to everyone that he was the best player the world had ever seen.

In order to compete, he would need to be able to get his spot at the table on the Lauren Belle. The boat used in the film to depict it was the Portland sternwheel steamboat. This vehicle happened to be the very last sternwheel tugboat in the US, with it having been owned by the Oregon Maritime Museum in Portland.

Throughout filming, the boat was given a new look as the film crew looked to alter its appearance and give it a more authentic vibe. They decorated it to look like a Mississippi-style gambling boat, which had been the norm to have been experienced during the Wild Western era. Once filming had been concluded, the boat was returned to how it looked before and is now stationed at the Willamette River seawall in downtown Portland.

Its significance in history will never be forgotten, as it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. It was retired in 1991 despite going out of service in 1981 and had cost a total of $472,000 to build before being launched in 1947. In today’s money, the overall cost was $6.2 million. It required two 7-man shifts and a cook to operate.

Why is Maverick still a top film today?

Given how movies can come and go, there are not many that will have their 30th anniversary celebrated like Maverick will once it reaches this milestone.It is arguably one of the best films to have featured a poker plotline to have ever been created, with audiences enthused and gripped by the story while at the same time enjoying the blend of comedy and action that is involved throughout.

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