I caught THE CINCINNATI KID (1965) on TCM last night, what a great picture! Featuring a height of his game Steve McQueen as “The Kid” and an aging Edward G. Robinson as Lancey Howard or “The Man”, both are heavyweight card players, The Kid being the young upcomer and Lancey being the old hand who has taken men to the cleaners the length and bredth of the country. A meeting between the 2 is set up and what unfolds is a tense battle of minds, the card game scenes are perfectly acted and shot.
What’s interesting about the casting is that this film, for Steve McQueen, comes 2 years after THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) and 3 years before BULLIT (1968), right in the middle of his purple patch. Robinson would only remain in the movies for another 8 years, finishing up with Richard Fleischer’s SOYLENT GREEN in 1978. The dynamic of the actors is very fitting to their respective careers at that time. McQueen, the hotshot with a big future, Robinson, the old master with the seen it all done it all, can’t teach me nothing attitude. Perfect for what this film is all about.
There are many notable support roles in this picture, including a memorable performance from Ann-Margaret as Melba the cheatin’ dame who is married to Shooter but really wants The Kid. Have a look at the trailer with its horrific transitions….