An up-and-coming poker player tries to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game.


Norman Jewison


Richard Jessup (novel), Ring Lardner Jr. (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... The Cincinnati Kid
Ann-Margret ... Melba
Karl Malden ... Shooter
Tuesday Weld ... Christian
Edward G. Robinson ... Lancey Howard
Joan Blondell ... Lady Fingers
Rip Torn ... Slade
Jack Weston ... Pig
Cab Calloway ... Yeller
Jeff Corey ... Hoban
Theodore Marcuse ... Felix (as Theo Marcuse)
Milton Selzer ... Sokal
Karl Swenson ... Mr. Rudd
Émile Genest ... Cajun (as Emile Genest)
Ron Soble ... Danny


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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A RAMBLING - GAMBLING MAN ... ! ! See more »




TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Paddy Chayefsky was originally signed to write the screenplay. See more »


In the opening segment where Stoner is been chased through the railroad yard. The two diesel-electric locomotives shown are from the late 1950s and contemporary with the shooting date of the movie c.1964. Dieselization of the US railroad system did not start until 1949. See more »


Melba: [Cincinatti Kid slaps her butt] Ouch. You Bastard!
Cincinnati Kid: Cheers baby.
Melba: I hope you lose.
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are two different endings to this film. The first ending, which is shown in all vhs releases, after Stoner loses the coin throw to the shoe shine boy, the boy walks away saying "You're not ready for me yet, Kid." As the boy walks away, Stoner turns around and it fades into the ending credits. In the second (or extended) ending, which was shown on Turner Classic Movies, after Stoner loses the coin throw to the shoe shine boy, the boy leaves saying "You're not ready for me yet, kid." Stoner turns around and continues walking until he sees Christian, then embraces her. The frame then freezes and says "The End" before fading into the credits. See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mouth 2 (2014) See more »


The Cincinnati Kid
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Lyrics by Dorcas Cochran
Theme song of "The Cincinnati Kid"
Sung by Ray Charles
See more »

User Reviews

a poker player's dream
14 September 2014 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Five-card stud isn't played much anymore, but it's played for something like 30 hours in the final hour of "The Cincinnati Kid," a 1965 film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen, Edward G. Robinson, Karl Malden, Ann-Margret, Tuesday Weld, and Joan Blondell.

McQueen is The Cincinnati Kid, a rounder, someone who looks for poker action in various towns, and Robinson is a long-time champion, also a rounder. There were no casinos in those days, the '30s. The story takes place in New Orleans.

Robinson, as Lancey Howard, has made a few enemies in his day, notably Slater (Rip Torn, who in these '60s films reminds me of Bradford Dillman). Slater is determined that when Howard hits town, he loses to The Kid. Toward that effort, he bribes one of the dealers, Shooter (Karl Malden). The two men finally meet in a poker game, one which has breaks - you can't play nonstop for 30 hours. During one of the breaks, The Kid tells Shooter that he knows the deal is rigged and insists on a clean game, saying that he doesn't need help to win.

Subplots concern Melba, Shooter's gorgeous wife (Ann-Margret) who is after The Kid, and The Kid's romance with a local girl (Weld).

The poker game is great. It's tense and exciting, although the hands are statistically nearly impossible to appear in the same game.

McQueen does a lot with a little - a look, a stare, a smile, He was a master of subtle acting, plus he has natural presence and sexiness. He died way too soon. The versatile Robinson, who could be a down-low crook or a mogul, is charming and elegant here.

The location, the period, and the dialogue lend themselves to the atmosphere created. And the cast is terrific -- Joan Blondell as a replacement dealer, Jack Weston as a fellow player, Torn as the angry Slater, Ann-Margret in top form in looks and sex appeal, Malden as the frustrated Shooter - all are excellent.

Considered one of the best, if not the best poker movie of all time. It's also a wonderful example of how "action" can take place without car chases and bombs going off.

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Release Date:

30 October 1965 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cincinnati Kid See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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