18 user 20 critic

The Big Town (1987)

J.C. Cullen arrives in Chicago and, with his cool hand, becomes a top dice roller. But when he meets a beautiful dancer, his luck may have finally run out - her husband is a ruthless killer.


Ben Bolt, Harold Becker (uncredited)


Clark Howard (novel), Robert Roy Pool (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Dillon ... J.C. Cullen
Diane Lane ... Lorry Dane
Tommy Lee Jones ... George Cole
Bruce Dern ... Mr. Edwards
Lee Grant ... Ferguson Edwards
Tom Skerritt ... Phil Carpenter
Suzy Amis ... Aggie Donaldson
David Marshall Grant ... Sonny Binkley
Don Francks ... Carl Hooker
Del Close ... Deacon Daniels
Meg Hogarth ... Dorothy Cullen
Cherry Jones ... Ginger McDonald
Alvaro D'Antonio Alvaro D'Antonio ... Prager (as Mark Danton)
David James Elliott ... Cool Guy (as David Elliott)
Steve Yorke Steve Yorke ... Garage Boy


It is 1957. J.C. Cullen is a young man from a small town, with a talent for winning at craps, who leaves for the big city to work as a professional gambler. While there, he breaks the bank at a private craps game at the Gem Club, owned by George Cole, and falls in love with two women, one of them Cole's wife. Infuriated, Cole wagers everything on the craps table, including the Gem Club itself, and he and Cullen have it out. Written by Brian C. Madsen <bcmmovies@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He came to town looking for luck, looking for love . . . If he gets lucky, he'll leave with his life . . . (Video Australia) See more »


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Third collaboration between Matt Dillon and Diane Lane since working on The Outsiders (1983) and Rumble Fish (1983). See more »


The sound of dice rolling after Cole announces their total. See more »


George Cole: Cullen, you're gonna pay for this!
See more »


Referenced in The Cage (1989) See more »


Harlem Nocturne
Written by Earle Hagen
See more »

User Reviews

weak stylish gambling movie
15 July 2015 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

It's 1957. Indiana small town kid J.C. Cullen (Matt Dillon) wins the local craps games at the gas station. Hooker sets him up with Ferguson Edwards (Lee Grant) in Chicago. Mr. Edwards (Bruce Dern) is her blind partner. Sonny Binkley takes him around to play. He charms nice girl Aggie Donaldson (Suzy Amis) who has a past with Sonny. He goes to a private game at the Gem Club owned by George Cole (Tommy Lee Jones) where Cole's wife Lorry Dane (Diane Lane) dances. He breaks the bank angering Cole. The next night, Cole sets him up with loaded dice. Then gambler Phil Carpenter (Tom Skerritt) from California comes in.

I've never been a fan of Matt Dillon coming in hard as a cocky young stud lead. He's too pigheaded to like. He's not as charming as he acts. He needs some vulnerability and more introspection. The production style is limited and the directing style is craps. There are some interesting actors but the story lacks sustained life. It has sections where the story is compelling. J.C.'s gambling with Cole over the two nights has good tension but it doesn't keep it going. It gets tied down with a messy story and an unlikeable Dillon. The movie could be good if it simplified to just them and Diane Lane. But I doubt it.

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Release Date:

25 September 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Arm See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$776,675, 27 September 1987

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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