The Cincinnati Kid / Norman Jewison (1965). The very first critics and audiences recognized that thi\s was a virtual remake of “The Hustler” from four years earlier, switching out pool for poker. What “The Cincinnati Kid” has going for it are striking color cinematography and fine performances from its lead actors. Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen), the title “kid,” is a rising star in the poker world, an illegal world. His dream is to sit down with The Man, Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson), a legendary and, if the stories are true, unbeatable player. Meanwhile, his neglected girlfriend (Tuesday Weld) has left him, a rich and ruthless gambler (Rip Torn) has blackmailed honest dealer Shooter (Karl Malden) into tossing the kid some helpful cards. Shooter’s much younger wife (Ann-Margaret) throws herself at the kid after his girlfriend is gone. So you see, it doesn’t lack for plot and sub-plot. The finale, taking about a fourth of the runtime, is the multi-day marathon face-off for the Kid and Lancey. Sitting in or monitoring the game are several accomplished character actors who create vivid portraits of fringe “types,” often with little help from the script: Jack Weston, Cab Calloway, Jeff Corey, Milton Selzer, among others. It was great to see classic film star Joan Blondell (she and James Cagney debuted in the same movie in 1930) as Lady Fingers, a relief dealer for Shooter.
I don't think you fully understand, Mr. Bigelow. You've been murdered.
Post by phantomparticle on Jul 30, 2020 0:14:32 GMT
McQueen and Newman had a rivalry going (mostly on McQueen's side). They both appeared in Somebody Up There Likes Me, Newman as star and McQueen in a small role, and they would be paired equally in The Towering Inferno. I can't be certain, but I see The Cincinnati Kid as McQueen's vanity production, hoping to catch the same lightening that struck The Hustler (and Newman). While it fell far short, it contains a number of powerful moments, mostly thanks to Edward G. Robinson. From what I've read, Robinson's mere presence intimidated nearly everyone in the cast, including McQueen. Simply put, all he need do was walk into frame, sit quietly at the table, and you could not take your eyes off him.
Someone once described The Hustler as "Greek tragedy in a pool room." It is, indeed, a heavy film and I may watch it from time to time when it shows up on cable, but I'm more entertained by The Cincinnati Kid, which I own on dvd and watch at least once a year.