A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)

All the action you can take...all the adventure you can wish for!

A naive traveler in Laredo gets involved in a poker game between the richest men in the area, jeopardizing all the money he has saved for the purpose of settling with his wife and child in San Antonio.

On The Poker Wagon!
Big Deal at Dodge City (AKA: A Big Hand for the Little Lady) is directed by Fielder Cook and written by Sidney Carroll. It stars Joanne Woodward, Henry Fonda, Paul Ford, Jason Robards, Charles Bickford, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ford and Burgess Meredith. Music is by David Raksin and cinematography by Lee Garmes.
Utterly delightful, though that statement is on proviso you be watching this film for the first time. For this be a comedy - cum - semi drama Western that relies on its finale to reward you for your time spent with such a splendid ensemble of actors.
We are in the tin-pot town of Black Creek and there's a high stakes poker game in progress. Wandering into Black Creek are husband and wife Meredith (Fonda) and Mary (Woodward), who with their young son in tow are just stopping by before settling down with some acres to bear life fruition. Only there's a problem, Meredith loves poker and catching wind of such a high stakes poker game thriving in the back of the saloon, he is prepared to bet the family nest egg as the gambling fever takes a hold...
Okies, so it really helps if you have a modicum of interest in card playing movies, because 90% of this pic is about the game being played, with director (and producer) Cook keeping things very intimate, close and personal, and sweaty. Yet the various characterisations that unfold during this card game, the foibles and ugly traits, not only make for an interesting observation of the human condition, but it's also very funny. Sarcastically, cynically or wry? Whatever!
Cast are tried and tested and on form, helped enormously by a clever screenplay. Yep! There's the feeling that things have been padded out to make it a feature length production, but such is the strong ensemble of thesps on show it's barely an itch that needs scratching. Come "that" finale - you cheeky old devil you - it matters not, cheer or laugh, moan or groan, whichever is your want, it's a pic that has drawn you in hook, line and sinker. 7/10

Eden Productions Inc. by Fielder Cook, Sidney Carroll.
Stars: Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards, Paul Ford.

Genres: Comedy, Western

Keywords: poker game laredo texas


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