7.0/10
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Skin Game (1971)

In 1857, con man Quincy Drew and his black friend Jason O'Rourke swindle slave owners into buying Jason, who's a free man, and later share the profits when Jason escapes captivity.

Directors:

, (co-director) (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay) (as Pierre Marton), (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Jason (as Lou Gossett)
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...
...
Plunkett
...
Calloway
...
Sam
...
Mrs. Claggart
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Mr. Claggart
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Bonner
...
John Brown
...
William
Joel Fluellen ...
Abram
...
Ned
...
Viney
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Storyline

Quincy Drew and his black friend Jason O'Rourke have pulled off every dodge known for conning a well-heeled sucker, but it wasn't until they hit on the old skin game that they started to clean up. The game is simple. Jason, though born a free man in New Jersey, poses as Quincy's slave as the pair ride through Missouri and Kansas in 1857. Quincy picks a likely mark in each town, sells Jason to him for top money and rides out of town. Then Quincy and Jason get back together on the road to another town, because if Jason can't just run off after dark, Quincy finds a way to spring him loose. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Would you buy a used slave from this man ? See more »


Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 February 1972 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

El rey de los picaros  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Garner and Louis Gossett, Jr. appeared on The Rockford Files (1974). See more »

Goofs

(at around 37 mins) As Quincy is walking past Jason, who's up on a platform, there are power lines above their heads. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Frighteners (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
SKIN GAME (Paul Bogart and, uncredited, Gordon Douglas, 1971) ***
11 December 2008 | by See all my reviews

Though highly rated in the Leonard Maltin Film Guide, this comic Western isn't as popular as star James Garner's two other genre spoofs – Burt Kennedy's SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (1969) and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER (1971) – but it's very much in the same vein.

For the record, Garner had earlier collaborated with Paul Bogart (even if Gordon Douglas seems to have been involved as well at some point) on MARLOWE (1969), a failed attempt at a noir revival (and on which I'm kind of lukewarm myself); incidentally, I've just taped another thriller by this director – MR. RICCO (1975), starring Dean Martin – off TCM U.K. Anyway, while I was disappointed that the version I acquired of SKIN GAME was panned-and-scanned, I was glad to have caught up with it, as the film proved ideal lightweight/entertaining fare for the Christmas season; the same is true of the film I followed it with – coincidentally another Western comedy revolving around sparring partners, Texas ACROSS THE RIVER (1966), with Dean Martin himself and Alain Delon.

This, in fact, has con-men Garner and Lou Gossett Jr. cleaning up small towns by having the two posing as master and slave – with the former purporting to sell the latter to the highest bidder and then have the black man run away to rejoin his pal (who, by this time, has already left)! This ruse has been kept up for quite some time (as seen in flashback) and it's garnered {sic} the duo a fair sum of money; however, things take a different turn when they run in, first, real slaves (which causes Gossett, born a free man, to rethink his situation) and, then, another con artist in Susan Clark (who targets Garner himself). Gossett even falls for a black girl who's to be sold at auction (where he too will be present) – so he asks Garner to buy her out of his share of the money…but the whole elaborate scheme is interrupted by the arrival of notorious anti-slavery crusader John Brown (played by Royal Dano)!

Furthermore, after Garner and Gossett make the mistake of returning to one of the towns they had already 'hit', the former lands in jail and the latter (along with his lady friend) is sold off as a slave for real by unscrupulous dealer Edward Asner to despotic Southerner Andrew Duggan. Surprisingly sprung from jail by Clark herself, Garner determines to save his ex-partner: they too take up disguise, this time as preacher and nurse, and start visiting Asner's clients one by one claiming a slave of theirs is actually a leper! By the time they reach Duggan's mansion, Gossett has befriended (or, rather, learned to control via his spouting of mumbo-jumbo!) a group of African slaves who subsequently go along with them when our heroes, with their respective women in tow, take off for Mexico. Incidentally, this sequence also contains the film's biggest laugh-out-loud moment as Gossett, all dressed up to wait at the family table, is fondled by one of Duggan's pubescent daughters – causing him to jump and drop the contents of his bowl!

While, as I said, the quality of the film's widescreen photography is somewhat compromised by the altered aspect ratio in this presentation (culled from a TV screening), David Shire's fine score retains all of its original impact – incidentally, being remarkably somber, it effectively counterpoints the breeziness generally on display.


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