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Steve McQueen, who was deservedly called Mister Cool, plays the young
upcoming poker player, already said to be among the best in the
business. But there is one he hasn't played against, The Man, Lancey
Howard, played by the great Edward G. Robinson. With the help of his
friend Shooter they set up the big fight. While having a high suspense
factor in the poker scenes, the non-poker ones might get a bit boring
at times, especially in the love story between the Kid and his
girlfriend Christian. But when it comes to playing this gets almost
perfect. McQueen has the ideal poker face, and so has Robinson, and
they both play their parts realistically and brilliantly. McQueen was
said not to be a real actor, just a poser, they said he didn't act he
only looked, but he proves it wrong here. His facial expressions are
perfect, and he plays the young hotshot player convincingly.
Needless to say the cast is the really stunning cast. Next to the afro-mentioned McQueen and Robinson, there's the always reliable Karl Malden, as Shooter. Malden has the most developed character in the picture, and he does a great job. And the women, oh my god, two stunning young ladies are here in all their glory. Ann-Margret plays the cheater, the femme fatal, the sexy beast, who's married to Shooter but wants the Kid. Surely one of the most attractive actresses of her time, actually all time, Ann is presented here in all her glory and beauty and sex appeal. Her seduction of McQueen early in the film, is incredibly sexy, and played brilliantly. They say Ann learned to act during Carnal Knowledge in '71. but that's not true, she already was a versatile and talented actress here. Watch her face during the cockfight scenes, or her cheating while doing a jigsaw puzzle, she acts naturally, and does a great job. And those tight dresses she wears with lots of cleavage are eye candy in its best form. One of the sexiest performances ever. Definitely shows you can be looking divine, and having acting talent at the same time.
Tuesday Weld plays the good girl, the girl from the country, Christian, and while not as pretty as Ann, she's quite a looker too, and she's also a talented and natural actress. The supporting cast is rounded out by Joane Blondell, Rip Torn, Cab Calloway and Jack Weston, all great actors who all do a fine job. Music score by Lalo Schifrin is good too, and so is the title track sung by legendary Ray Charles.
As for the often-mentioned, often-criticized last hand, it's Hollywood, only Hollywood, not a poker documentary. The film needs a strong climax, and gets it. Norman Jewison is a fine director, and especially the poker scenes and head-shots are well directed. Not much action, not much character development but it's not much of a problem. If only Peckinpah had directed, now that could have been something, Jewison is a great substitute, but I like the thought Peckinpah could have even improved it.
This fine film chronicles a tense, dramatic marathon game of poker between a rising young star and a cagey old pro. Steve McQueen is the cool, detached hot shot and Edward G. Robinson displays nerves of steel, razor sharp instincts and a veteran's poise as the two players probe each other, searching for openings and seeking any advantage, however subtle. Both men are excellent and have good support from a solid cast of veteran actors. Ann-Margret is nice as a siren who just can't sit still when she and the Cincinnati Kid are in the same room. She slinks her way through her interpretation as the sluttish wife of a compromised card dealer who figures prominently in the grand game. The romantic angle between the Cincinnati Kid and his girlfriend doesn't ring true, although Tuesday Weld is pleasing as a vulnerable, love-struck girl. The cinematography shows a grim, gray, seedy side of New Orleans that brings realism to the story. The music has a jazzy score and nice vocals by Ray Charles.
A movie that shows the world of gamblers and card players should be elegant, claustrophobic, decadent, sexy an full of suspense. In 'The Cincinnati Kid' these are mixed in the most delicious way. Set in New Orleans, during the Depression the film tells the story of 'Cincinnati Kid', who wants to be the best card player in the world. He has the opportunity when the best ones get together in New Orleans for a marathon-lenght poker party. It's obvious that the final party would be between The Kid and Lancey Howard (very cool: Edward G. Robinson). It's a fine classic like almost all Steve McQueen-movies. McQueen is the king of cools and the supporting cast is good too. Tuesday Weld is pretty but Ann-Margret is the most seductive chick in town. The cock-fight scene and the final poker party is fantastically photographed and wonderfully edited (by Hal Ashby, who later directed the 'Coming Home'). And the music! Lalo Schifrin is a master and Ray Charles' song is simply fantastic and fits to the set and mood of the movie. The ending is unusual and unpredictable, but in my opinion it's very fair. Norman Jewison must have been liked his actors very much. The only flaw is the women hair-style. But it's an usual thing mostly in the films from the 60s (like 'Doctor Zhivago'). Although it's regarded as a classic, the wide audience don't recognize and respect it - 'You just not ready for me, yet.'
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The town is New Orleans; the place is the old Hotel Lafayette; the game
is 5 Card Stud Poker...
"The Cincinnati Kid" is a colorful drama of the adventures of a young card-shark in New Orleans, battling for supremacy in the side-street world of gambling against an old pro of the game...
Steve McQueen plays the cool, strong challenger, a young clever stud poker gambler, ready to risk his whole world on the turn of a card...
Edward G. Robinson portrays the tougher old man not ready to retire yet... The greatest stud poker player in New York, Chicago, Miami with an awful lot past to protect...'The Man' who can laid you out, strung you up, gutted you easy!
Karl Malden plays the disturbed dealer who has reached his middle years without having yet any assurance... He is well prepared to supply the Kid with some 'helping' hands...
Ann-Margret plays a sensual married woman who cheats at everything, and hates to spend the rest of her life with a man like Malden... Her character, Melba, is the sort of woman who got a man if she went after him and could walk out of the room after his girlfriend walks in and discovers them together, guilt free... She shows the character played by Tuesday Weld around the French Quarter, introducing her to the wild side. But for all her urbane sophistication, Melba is still searching for love in vain...
Tuesday Weld plays the sweet country girl in love...
Joan Blondell is the relief dealer whose only hope is to see the 'Man' finished!
If you like pressure and tension, and you love the atmosphere of professional poker marathon game, and you enjoyed "The Hustler" with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, well, don't even hesitate to see this fascinating exhibition of professional characters competing for supremacy...
With a theme song sung by Ray Charles, this suspenseful motion picture is a royal flush of tough and realistic confrontation!
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.
Eric Stoner - The Cincinnati Kid (Steve Mqcueen) is going to take on The Man - Lancy Howard (A great as usual Edward G. Robinson) in the biggest poker game you will ever see, and you better not miss it. The movie follows the few days before the big game of the Cincinatti Kid and several other characters who in one way or another could be affected by the games results: One is a sort of a shady gangster (Rip Torn) who was "butchered" by "The Man" not very long ago and will do anything to get even with him including threaten and bribe one of the dealers named Shooter (Karl Malden) who is The kid's best friend. Also in the mix is Shooter's sexy and seductive wife Melba (Ann-Margret at her most beauty) who has a few things on her mind (one of them is money of course and none of them is her poor husband) and also are trying to tempt Mcqueen's Character who is in relationships with a sweet and innocent country girl named Christian (the lovely Tuesday Weld) who wants to settle down. the film hasn't got even one boring minute thanks to the first rate cast and the interesting dialogs. The final showdown at the hotel is probably the most tense and interesting poker game ever filmed in a movie. And who can forget the last thing Lancy tells the kid: "Gets down to what it's all about, doesn't it? Making the wrong move at the right time." Recommended 10/10
Edward G. Robinson as Lancey Howard has been King of the Poker Players
for a good long time. But as that eminent American philosopher Ric
Flair says, "to be the man, you got to beat the man." And there's a kid
from Cincinnati played by Steve McQueen who thinks he can do it.
McQueen's up for a fair and square game, but Robinson's developed a bad enemy in Rip Torn. Torn is this rich hotshot who thinks he's good, but he gets in a game with Robinson who guts Torn good and proper. No markers for Torn, he's rich enough to write out a check and pay it up front. But Torn's looking to get even and he ain't too squeamish about what he has to do.
The action of The Cincinnati Kid takes place over a three day period in New Orleans and in the French Quarter which was left fairly intact after Hurricane Katrina. It's fitting and proper the story location should be there, a city with a rich gambling tradition.
There's a couple of nice women's parts, kind of a coming of age for two young actresses who played virginal teenagers up to then, Tuesday Weld and Ann-Margret. Ann-Margret is the nymphomaniac wife of dealer Karl Malden, the Nathan Detroit of the piece. After The Cincinnati Kid, Ann-Margret never played innocents again.
Torn is a slick and malevolent villain who tries to compromise Karl Malden in his quest for vengeance against Robinson. Malden has a great part as a man who's caught by the short hairs.
Originally Spencer Tracy was to do the Lancey Howard role, but according to The Films of Steve McQueen, Tracy thought his role subordinate to McQueen's and bowed out. Other sources have said it was health reasons. Probably both are true. Anyway Robinson is a wily and wise old soul who goes to the poker table like most of us go to the office, to work.
This is one of Steve McQueen's four or five best screen roles, he's an ultimate rebel hero here. He's got what it takes to win, but he'll win it on his own terms.
This film is always called The Hustler at a card table. Like The Hustler, the last climatic scene of the poker showdown with McQueen and Robinson crackles with tension. Who's going to pull it out.
Don't think you can guess the outcome and all its ramifications. Not by a jugful
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I do neither doubt nor wonder that some do not `get' The Cincinnati Kid, but the fact remains it is simply one of the great money movies of all time. It is as cautionary an American tale as any rags-to-riches-to-rags story. It is as truthful as any courtroom drama, and as trenchant a commentary on a material culture as one is likely to find. Where its mythology falls short, I think, stems from the absence of a mentor for the lonely Eric Stoner (The Cincinnati Kid). He must face The Man, Lancey Howard, by his lonesome, with his only possible ally being the disreputable Shooter, a trustworthy card dealer and shark (he uses the word `mechanic') and a man who believes himself honorable, but who has slept with so many mangy dogs for so long he can shake neither the fleas nor the stink. Stoner's isolation-something he abets throughout the film-keeps him from defeating Howard. The film's subtext is revealed in a brief conversation between The Kid and his girlfriend, Christian. She sees a French film with Shooter's wife, Melba, and puzzles over a choice the foreign movie poses: is honor the most important thing in life? Is it worth dying for? For the moment The Cincinnati Kid doesn't think so. For him the answer seems obvious: `what good is honor if you're dead?' Yet he tries to defeat Howard honorably-and meets devastation. Principles and honor take a beating in this movie; nobody has the kind of character one would hold up as a gold standard. By inference the only honorable people are either black urbanites (seen here either shining shoes or playing jazz music), or country folk. The rest are hard-scrabbling sleeze, among whom honor is an alien virtue. Thus The Cincinnati Kid poses a fundamental question, one every American male seeking to improve his lot in life (Eric Stoner, Fast Eddie Felson, Bud Fox and many others) must answer: is victory (i.e. success) worth a tarnished name, or is it worth scheming and cheating for? And what good is honor when you've `died' in a card game and you haven't got two dimes to rub together?
Norman Jewison's (`In the Heat of the Night,' `The Thomas Crown Affair,'
`Fiddler on the Roof')1965 `The Cincinnati Kid' contains top notch location
shooting in New Orleans and gritty dialogue (screenplay by Ring Lardner,
Jr., `M*A*S*H*') that seems way ahead of its time.
The star power of this film is immense, with Steve McQueen portraying `the Kid' who is overly confident that he can beat `the Man,' Edward G. Robinson at his own game, stud poker. McQueen is ever confident while Robinson has seen it all and will not be surprised or scared by anything that he sees on the card table.
As in all great movies there is a very strong supporting cast in this film. Led by Karl Malden as `the Kid's' confidant, Shooter and a trio of strong supporting actresses, Ann-Margaret, Tuesday Weld and Joan Blondell. Ann-Margaret portrays Shooter's wife, Melba with great flair; she sees her husband as a loser and as a weakling. She openly commits adultery and talks down at him in front of anyone. Her characterization appears to be the role model for Fredo Corleone's wife Deanna, in `The Godfather, Part II.'
Beyond the obvious supporting roles is one of the best supporting/character players of all time, Jack Weston. He appears in many films in the 1960s and 1970s often as a person who gets in over his head with people and situations he cannot handle. In this movie he plays `Pig,' the first victim of Edward G. Robinson at the big card game. Pig thinks he is a pro but quickly and thoroughly gets gutted by `the Man.' Weston portrays a similar character in the original `Thomas Crown Affair.' Nobody sweats on camera like Jack. His type of adept characterizations can be seen in more recent settings, for example William H. Macy's `Jerry Lundergard' in 1996's `Fargo.'
Al in all this is one of the all time classics and by far is my favorite of any of the serious gambling movies such as `The Hustler,' `The Gambler' and `The Color of Money.'
The opening scene is riveting. Well cast with Robinson, McQueen and
Malden in top form and most supporting roles convincing. The flavor of
old New Orleans is undeniable.
The plot line is a familiar one - - the new lion challenging the old king, this time at a poker table. The results are not predictable and the action leading to the climax is gripping.
Subplots support the main story line even though the female characters are just a bit too glamorous to be believable. The novel the movie is based upon is rather spare and a great deal of the dialog and minor actions were added when the screenplay was written.
A most enjoyable and satisfying motion picture!
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