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In 1930s New Orleans, the Cincinnati Kid, a young stud poker player who travels from one big game to the next, stopping along the way up with various girls, is pitted against the legendary champion card-sharp Lancey Howard in a high-stakes poker game. Written by
In the final hand, Lancey overlaps his exposed cards similar to a solitaire row, the Queen of diamonds is the top card while everyone is discussing if he has the Jack or not. A few seconds later, the cards are reversed and the Queen is the bottom card. See more »
How the hell did you know I didn't have the king or the ace?
I recollect a young man putting the same question to Eddie the Dude. "Son," Eddie told him, "all you paid was the looking price. Lessons are extra."
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Like the rest of the English-speaking world, I've recently succumbed to poker-mania, and started wasting some of my spare cash in amateur Texas Hold 'Em games.
Due to my newfound interest in card-playing, and my appreciation for old movies, I picked up "The Cincinatti Kid" on DVD. And I sure wasn't disappointed. The movie's awesome, on so many levels. As you might expect, the poker scenes are incredibly tense and, from what little I know of the game, they're pretty realistic. But other aspects of the film are great, too.
The New Orleans location shooting is gorgeous. You get to see a lot of the city, so I imagine the crew must've spent a fair amount of time there. There's plenty of cool jazz numbers and some nice French Quarter atmosphere. Director Norman Jewison manages to imbue New Orleans, and the movie as a whole, with an atmosphere that's both sleazy and glamorous at the same time.
The strong cast is another highlight. Steve McQueen is understated yet compelling, while Joan Blondell hams it up in a highly entertaining fashion (I love how she keeps teasing Lancey Howard about his age). Edward G. Robinson, one of my favorite character actors, radiates class and even a little menace as Howard. And - this is the best part - the movie also features the sweetly beautiful Tuesday Weld and the painfully sexy Ann-Margret. You just can't lose with a multi-generational cast of stars (and babes) like that.
Some commentators have complained that "The Cincinatti Kid" is slow, particularly during the scenes that don't feature poker. I can't say that I agree. The McQueen-Weld romance is sweet, and it doesn't really take up that much screen time. Sure, the movie may seem a little plodding if compared to contemporary films, but then again even "Aliens" is plodding compared to contemporary films.
The theme song's catchy, too. What more do you need? This movie's a mini-classic.
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