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Banjo Hackett Reviews

Enjoyably corny, this comical and character-driven TV-movie Western is more in tune with "Maverick" than "Gunsmoke." Old West ladies' man Banjo Hackett (Don Meredith), despite his fond feelings for Molly (Jennifer Warren), makes it clear he's not the marryin' kind. Although he also isn't the fatherin' kind, the wandering cowpoke gets saddled with his orphaned nephew, Jubal (Ike Eisenmann). Having entrusted Jubal with a prize-winning horse, Uncle Banjo discovers that the critter's value has since increased. Unfortunately, Jubal is no longer in possession of his four-legged friend, whose custody has passed through several owners. Wealthy breeder Tip Conaker (Dan O'Herlihy) will pay $10,000 if the pregnant mare is delivered before she foals; otherwise, the authenticity of the Arabian bloodline could be challenged. To that end, he hires unscrupulous varmint Sam Ivory (Chuck Connors), the sort of galoot who uses a pitchfork to pry information out of a livery owner. Tip infuriates Sam by eventually making the same finder's-fee offer to Banjo. By the time Banjo arrives at the Plumas County Horse Fair in California, the coveted horse has already been passed from a tinker to a medicine-show doctor. To increase his odds, Banjo snitches to the sheriff about Sam's propensity for violent problem-solving, and with Sam temporarily in lock-up, Banjo learns the horse now belongs to an actress, Flora Dobbs (Anne Francis), who plans to use the animal in her theatrical comeback. Meanwhile, Banjo is running out of tricks, and no jail can hold Sam for long. Screenwriter Ken Trevey should thank his lucky stars for the cast's cheeky delivery of his comical inversion of Western staples, and for former football hero Meredith in the title role of this evident backdoor series-pilot.