Year 8, Day 153 - 6/1/16 - Movie #2,352
BEFORE: Here's an odd one, Joan Blondell carries over from "The Champ" - I'd pegged that Jon Voight film as a dead-end until I found this little connection, which allows me to maintain this month's theme of manly men, like Steve McQueen, doing manly things, like playing poker. And I think he gets even more manly tomorrow...
THE PLOT: An up-and-coming poker player tries to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game.
AFTER: I didn't really pick up on the fact that this was set in the 1930's - the fact that it takes place in New Orleans was kind of enough. You get the feeling that parts of New Orleans in the 1960's probably looked about the same as they did thirty years before, right?
This is essentially the same film as "The Hustler" in most of the ways that count, just with cards instead of pool. A stranger with a reputation comes to town, beats a rich socialite to pad his wallet, then sets his sights on the local talent. The lead role might have switched around a bit, but it's not a stretch to draw a direct line between Fast Eddie Felson and The Cincinnati Kid, I think. And they both had relationship problems, they both play in dangerous, high-stakes games... "The Hustler" came out four years before, so make of that what you will.
And it's unintentionally clever of me to place this right after "The Champ" - both films prominently feature a man adept at one sport (boxing, poker) who also gambles on another (horse racing, cock fighting) and has a tough time maintaining a stable life/relationship.
Sleeping with your friend's wife is also a very manly thing to do - especially when she looks like Ann-Margret. I did a four-film Ann-Margret chain in early March, but three more films with her have come on to the list since then. This is why I'm in favor of reducing the Watchlist, so this will be less likely to happen, but then of course I'll also have fewer linking opportunities.
NITPICK POINT: Ann-Margret's character is seen working on a jigsaw puzzle, and using a nail file to make the pieces fit. What? As a fan of puzzles (OK, I do jigsaws on my iPad now, not in the real world, but I used to...) I don't get this at all. OK, maybe it would make that piece fit, technically, but it still doesn't belong there! The image is not going to match at all, and now there's going to be an extra piece that should have gone there, that now is not going to fit in THAT piece's place? What screenwriter thought this made any sense at all? Now, as a kid I sometimes noticed that two puzzles from the same company might share the same cut, so occasionally I'd alternate the pieces from two jigsaws as a lark, and to see what the image would then look like, but afterwards I had to put them back again! That might be where the OCD started - but I'd NEVER alter a puzzle piece to make it fit where it doesn't belong. That's wrong and immoral, or something - there ought to be a law against it!
And it's hard to believe, but Rip Torn was young once, I don't know if I ever noticed him in a film, looking so young and clean-shaven. I think in just about every other film, he's old and bearded.
Also starring Steve McQueen (last seen in "Somebody Up There Likes Me"), Ann-Margret (last seen in "Made in Paris"), Karl Malden (last seen in "I Confess"), Edward G. Robinson (last seen in "Double Indemnity"), Tuesday Weld (last seen in "The Wrong Man"), Rip Torn (last seen in "Robocop 3"), Jack Weston (last seen in "Wait Until Dark"), Cab Calloway, Jeff Corey (last seen in "Ruby Cairo").
RATING: 5 out of 10 card tricks