The young, cocky up and comer, going for one big win against the old guard is almost its own genre. Paul Newman did it in 1967 as a pool hall grifter in The Hustler as Fast Eddie Felson. Then backed up again 25 years later, reprising the Felson role for The Color of Money. Matt Damon did it at the poker table with Rounders in 1998. And I’m sure there are dozens I haven’t seen, or just forgotten. It’s a tried and true plot formula that lets you put the charisma filled star of the day in the lead role, then let the seedy, yet enviable cool of the not-quite legit world deliver a seedy, yet enviably cool story. Two years before Newman tore up the felt against Minnesota Fats in The Hustler, Steve McQueen did it poker style, in The Cincinnati Kid.
The titular Kid, McQueen is on a winning streak and can’t be beaten. Whether it’s high stakes cards with the city’s most ruthless gamblers, or a simple coin flip with a young boy in the street, the Cincinnati Kid can’t lose. Which means it’s time for him to go for the big one, local poker king, Edward G Robinson as Lancey Howard. (more…)