A day before: Bret Maverick has his last meal in Prairie Springs about 38 hours before Molly serves him another in Bent Forks. Bret is run out of Prairie Springs shortly after his last meal over a matter he didn’t have time to straighten out, and is chased across the countryside all day.
Thursday, July 20, 1871: Bret evades an angry group of unidentified riders from Prairie Springs in the morning. Satisfied he’s lost them, he rides into Bent Forks in the afternoon, wins enough money with the belt game for a meal at 3:30, and a stake in a poker game that night. The poker game is interrupted, and Bret is arrested for running a con game in town.
Friday, July 21, 1871: Mike, the bartender at the Golden Chance, puts up the $100 bail for Bret on the condition he works it off as a spotter in the saloon during the coming cattle drives. Jordan tells Molly he expects the cattle buyers will all be in town in ten days, and they must be ready then to put their plan into action.
Saturday, July 22, 1871: Bret catches Fletcher and Callahan running the Spread in a poker game at the Golden Chance, leading to their arrest. Bret takes Molly on a picnic that afternoon, but is accosted by Fletcher and Callahan, out on bail, as soon as he returns to his hotel. Sheriff Wes Corwin intervenes, runs Fletcher and Callahan out of town and tells Bret to stay away from Molly. Bret informs the sheriff he has plans to see her the next day.
Sunday, July 23, 1871: Bret sees Molly, but can’t figure out why she seems to be interested one minute and disinterested the next. Over the next week, Bret continues to work off his debt at the Golden Chance, making a little extra in poker games, and wonders over Molly’s behavior.
Saturday, July 29, 1871: After a night of poker playing, Bret has enough money to repay the Golden Chance for the bail Mike posted, and to replenish his $1,000 get-away money.
Sunday, July 30, 1871: Bret packs to leave Bent Forks. Molly convinces him to give themselves one more chance to see if they can make their relationship work. But when she suddenly asks him to leave town, Bret decides he can’t until he figures out why she’s behaving so strangely. Later that evening, Jordan tells Molly to meet him the next day at 3:00.
Monday, July 31, 1871: Now, ten days after Jordan expected the bank to have $100,000 of cattle buyers’ money, he’s ready to put their plan into action. He meets Molly at 3:00 and tells her they must pull it off that night around 11:00. Bret witnesses their rendezvous and realizes he could be in danger. Molly tries to entice Bret to go for a ride with her under the full moon, but confesses her plan to him instead. Bret rides out to stop Jordan and winds up killing him, but finds the stolen bank money. Afterwards, the sheriff overhears Molly confessing the plan to Bret and arrests her for conspiracy to commit murder and bank robbery.
Tuesday, August 1, 1871: Bret returns the stolen money to the bank and collects $3,000 reward. He visits Molly in jail, gives her the reward money to hire a good lawyer and make a fresh start when she’s done serving her time. The sheriff watches Bret ride out of Bent Forks, on the trail to Denver.
Shortly after: Molly is convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and bank robbery, but her lawyer and a jury of compassionate cowhands get her a light sentence.
Sometime after: After serving her sentence, Molly settles down with Sheriff Wes Corwin.
There is no direct indication anywhere in “Point Blank” of a year, or
mention of any historical events, from which to extrapolate when it takes place. So all we can do is look for clues within the Maverick Saga itself in hopes of deducing where “Point Blank” falls in the Chronology.
We suspicion it is early in Bret Maverick’s career as a wandering gambler. At one point in the story, Molly Gleason asks Bret why he became a drifter. Bret indulges us with a little of his back story when he tells her, “I keep on the move because I’m looking for a man. Sometimes, I’m afraid I might find him...have to settle down.”
This seems to be an allusion to the Tall Man that Bret and Brother Bart have been looking for since they first returned home to Little Bend, Texas, after the Civil War. As we learn “Trail West to Fury,” a mysterious Tall Man was witness to a shooting in Little Bend, and could clear Bret and Bart of a murder charge, but he disappeared. Until the Maverick Brothers could find him to clear their names, they didn’t dare return to Texas. But other than the flashback story told in “Trail West to Fury” and the allusion in “Point Blank,” there appears to be no further mention of the Tall Man anywhere else in the Saga.
We can probably place “Point Blank” after the events of “War of the Silver Kings,” which ends late in the year of 1870. In that story, Bret bemoans the damage to his first broadcloth coat, apparently new. He had a new coat tailored to replace it, but it was not black broadcloth. In “Point Blank,” he’s wearing broadcloth again. It’s conceivable that “Point Blank” could precede “War of the Silver Kings,” but if we continue with wardrobe clues, we see Bret wearing a paisley waistcoat in that episode, which we never see again. In “Point Blank,” he wears a striped waistcoat, which we see him wearing again many times thereafter.
By the time of the events of “Ghost Rider,” another early episode in the series (episode 4), we should assume the Tall Man has either been found, or the Mavericks’ names have otherwise been cleared of the murder charge, since “Ghost Rider” is clearly set in Texas. We know by the date of a grave marker that “Ghost Rider” is set in June 1872. Both Bret and Bart return to Texas many times afterwards throughout the Saga (which doesn’t seem to have forced either of them to have settled down, however).
So we are confident in setting “Point Blank” after late 1870 and before June of 1872. Since story points indicate hot, dry weather, we can probably assume it to take place during the summer of 1871. Judging by the climate in the Platte Valley Lowland where the story likely takes place, July and August are the hottest, driest months.
On the night Bret discovers Molly’s full plan, she has mentioned there is a full moon. There was a full moon on July 31, 1871, right in the middle of the hottest, driest time of year. If we take this date as that night, we can build our timeline around this point.
01. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
02. Maverick, Point Blank (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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