New Orleans, 1936. Eric Stoner, nicknamed The Cincinnati Kid (Steve McQueen), has built quite a reputation as a poker player. But he wants to be the best. The visit of the unofficial poker king Lancy Howard (Edward G. Robinson), is a good idea. He challenges him to a duel. Howard accepted. The all-important duel ensues, for which the Cincinnati Kid would be willing to jeopardize his relationship with the pretty Christian (Tuesday Weld). Crime boss and millionaire Slade (Rip Torn) wants Stoner to win at all costs.
Previously Howard had humiliated him in a game, and now Slade wants to see Howard sweat. For this, he is willing to let the game be manipulated. He blackmails Cincinnati’s best friend Shooter (Karl Malden), who takes the dealer’s position in the poker game, and Stoner forces him toIn the heat of the night, hurricane) with the atmospheric gamer drama “Cincinnati Kid.” He manages to stage a card game that looks uninteresting to the outside world in such a way that even the layman is captivated. Until the big finale, which also takes up the bear part of the film, Jewison first bestows the viewer with safely staged, obligatory, interpersonal preliminary skirmishes. It’s thanks to cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop (“The Pink Panther,” “Earthquake”), Jewison’s directing skills, and the cast that this rather superficial foreplay needn’t arouse disinterest in viewers.
Lathrop film “Cincinnati Kid,” with beautiful images and, together with Hal Ashby’s editing technique, ensures a harmonious atmosphere. Their remarkable density makes Jewison’s skilfully staged work worth seeing even over the full distance. The two typical 1960s beauties Tuesday Weld as Steve McQueen’s film friend and Ann-Margret as Karl Malden’s seductive film wife, who has more than just one eye on the Cincinnati Kid (McQueen), are very well staged. In fact, their staging is so wonderful that the two ladies – especially their hairstyles – seem a bit out of place in the setting of 1936 New Orleans. The viewer feels like watching two pin-up girls from the 1960s on a journey through time.
Steve McQueen is Mr. Cool and, of course, fits into a role like no other. By the way, his outfit is timeless. The audience could have found him in a film of the new millennium. His opponent is Edward G. Robinson. Hollywood legend Spencer Tracy was originally supposed to take on the role, but he declined, and Tracy was replaced by Robinson. A stroke of luck. McQueen, a representative of the new Hollywood generation, faced one of the big names of old Hollywood. Robinson’s aura outshines everything – apart from Mr. Cool – and watching the two in a poker duel is by far the greatest attraction of the player drama.
Karl Malden also deserves a mention as the shooter who gets to play the most complex character in the ensemble. He gives the most depth to his well-developed figure, but unfortunately. He inevitably goes down a bit against the star glamor spread by McQueen and Robinson and the eroticism of the ladies Tuesday Weld and Ann-Margret. Joan Blondell as the nimble, former star player Lady Fingers earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but she plays well and with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humor.
The already hinted eroticism stays in the closed frame. Incidentally, it was at this point that Sam Peckinpah failed in the film. Originally, he should have directed it. But he wanted a nude scene and already had the right body double ready in Sharon Tate. This scene was supposed to be for the European audience, but Peckinpah claimed it wasn’t in the American version. But when producer Martin Ransohoff found out that Peckinpah had intended the kick-off scene for both versions, tensions became so open that Peckinpah voluntarily threw in the towel. One can only speculate how the film would have turned out under his direction, but there is no question that an excellent replacement was found in Norman Jewison.
The subplot about the blackmailing of the shooter and the gangster boss Slade (Rip Torn) is told in an unspectacular but realistic way, and anyone who now expects entanglements and a bloodbath, according to common gangster thrillers is out of place. The relationship between the not-so-simple character of Steve McQueen, aka The Cincinnati Kid, and his lovely girlfriend receives closer scrutiny, as does Cincinnati Kid (McQueen)’s relationship with Shooter (Malden). Still, in the end, the poker game takes center stage. “Cincinnati Kid” rightly enjoys the reputation of being the most exciting gambling and poker film.JANNAT 2008 Bollywood Movie Review
The viewer doesn’t have to know the rules to cheer on the nails. Great. “Cincinnati Kid” lacks depth and variation compared to the great film classic. As a brilliantly filmed player drama, however, the work can be remembered positively and recommended to the audience without reservation.