The Maverick teleplay "Stage West" was based on a Louis L'Amour short story titled "The Packsaddle Affair." It was presented during Season 1, Episode 6, airing for the first time Sunday October 27, 1957. It also appeared as an illustrated version in the Maverick comic book #945, released October 1, 1958. The actual story, The Packsaddle Affair, was written by L'Amour under one of his pseudonyms or pen names, Jim Mayo, first appearing in a mass-market western pulp magazine titled Texas Rangers, dated June 1952, Volume 47 No. 1., through Thrilling Publications/Better Publications, published along side ten other short stories by just as many authors.
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The story uses a fairly common plot device in western lore. 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 but can't because of coercion from the other family members. Of course, because it is a Maverick story, the primary focus is on the classic Bret Maverick ability to combine smooth talk, action and trickery to get himself out of a tight situation.
The story opens with Mart Fallon with his two sons Wes and Rip holding prospector 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.
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 butcher.
Maverick arrives before the Fallon's 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.)
ERIN JOANNE OBRIEN
Erin O'Brien, a woman of exceptional beauty, plays Linda Harris, the wife of the miner Sam Harris killed earlier by Wes. Supposedly she has a map to the location of the mine. On purpose she left it in her luggage on the stage. When the stage left the map went with it. When one of the sons tries to catch the stage in order to retrieve the map he finds the stage has been attacked by Indians and burned.
At the time the Stage West episode was being filmed O'Brien was being groomed by Warner Brothers for greater things. The studio held her in such high regard that she was billed alongside James Garner at the beginning of her first Maverick episode in 1957, a gesture shared by very few actors during the entire five year run of the series.
Peter Brown plays Rip the good son. 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 Wes the bad son, 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 the Warner Brothers series Lawman.
Ray Teal, plays the bad father Mart Fallon. He 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.
With some minor editing for purposes here, the majority of the above Stage West synopsis has been provided through the courtesy and compliments of the official fan site of actor Peter Brown (1935-2016), who appeared in the Stage West episode.
ERIN O'BRIEN AND JAMES GARNER AS SEEN IN THE 1957 MAVERICK, EPISODE 6, SEASON 1, STAGE WEST
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MAVERICK TRAILS: THE DELL ADAPTION OF STAGE WEST
COWBOY CODE OF THE WEST
1847 COLT WALKER PERCUSION REVOLVER
BILLY THE KID
TEXAS RANGERS, JUNE 1952, VOLUME 47 - NO. 1
TEXAS RANGERS, JUNE 1952, VOLUME 47 - NO. 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Frontier Post - Captain Starr 6-8
- Westernettes - Harold Helfer 9
- Warpath - Jackson Cole 10-58
- That Packsaddle Affair - Jim Mayo 59-67
- Good Country for Prairie Dogs - Robert Aldrich 68-75
- Trail Without End - Joseph Wayne 76-89
- Sagebrush Savvy - S. Omar Barker 90
- One Killing Deserves Another - Ralph Perry 91-98
- The West’s Worst Badman - Norman B. Wiltsey 99-101
- Relatively Speaking - Arthur J. Reshke 102
- Inside Straight - Jim O’Mara 103