The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

The image most of us have of Steve McQueen involves a car chase in a classic Ford Mustang, and some moves made with vehicle that would make Barry Sanders gawk in wide eyed amazement. For those who have only been exposed to this bit from his resume, the Cincinnati Kid will be a dramatic shift in gears. 

Steve McQueen plays card shark Eric Stoner in this this adaptation of the book by Richard Jessup. Stoner is to poker what the “Professor” from Gilligan;s Island was to coconut powered radios. In other words he is genius at the game of stud poker. Where there is one genius though, there is always going to be another who sees themselves as equally talented. For those of you who think this sounds too much like the film adaptation of Nick the Greek vs. Johnny Moss, the movie provides enough Of course there is another player out there who also fancies his skills to be twists and turns in this film that make the possibility of the showdown between the two poker heavyweights a doubtful proposition. 

There is a gritty charm to this film that will appeal to anyone who has sweated over their cards in some badly lit backroom game. There may be something about the era that was raw and visceral but it is certainly amplified by the choice of sets, particularly outdoors. Indoors is minimalist, the director focuses on specific features, even items, without ever being redundant or irrelevant. Much of the ambiance is created by the expressions crafted by the lesser players in this film. The director uses shade, and lighting to evoke emotion and feeling from the audience. In short, this is detailed filmmaking at its very best.

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