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HollywoodGolightly

"A Big Hand for the Little Lady" (1966)

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Here's another great (and fun!) movie that is usually grouped with Westerns, although it doesn't have much in common with most Westerns except the setting.

 

It does have two actors who'd be reunited just two years later in Once Upon a Time in the West - Henry Fonda and Jason Robards. The sterling cast also includes Joanne Woodward, Kevin McCarthy, Burgess Meredith and Charles Bickford.

 

The film, set in Laredo, Texas, starts innocently enough, with the "biggest poker game west of the Mississippi" is about to start. The game pits five of the richest men in the territory in a no-holds-barred game.

 

Almost out of nowhere, a seemingly wholesome couple (Fonda and Woodward) with a young kid appear in the town hotel, and request a room for the night (they say they're on their way to San Antonio). Before you know it, Fonda's character has talked his way into the poker game.

 

a-big-hand-for-the-little-lady.jpg

 

To say much more about what happens in the movie would be unforgivable. Let's just say that the movie more than gives you a run for your money, and when it's all said and done, you can't help but have a really big grin on your face.

 

I had seen this many years ago and remembered the surprise ending, but watching it again on a very nice DVD from WHV made me enjoy it all over again from beginning to end.

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

P.S. By sheer coincidence, I watched this again on the same night as TCM showed The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) - I had no idea Henry Fonda had acted alongside Charles Bickford way back in his film debut.

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This is a good little movie, and deserves to be shown more often. I saw it in the theater when it was released, as the first part of a double feature (anyone remember those???). I seem to remember being more interested in the second feature, but, ironically, I can't recall what that film was, so perhaps it wasn't that great.

 

The cast is very interesting. Let's also plug Paul Ford, who has a pivotal role. I haven't seen this in some time, but I recall Burgess Meredith sitting by his "record player" listening to "Rosie, You are my Posie," or something like that. Isn't Jason Robards on his way to a wedding?

 

The only odd thing about this film is Henry Fonda's hair. It just does not look right.

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> {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> Isn't Jason Robards on his way to a wedding?

 

He's actually in the middle of his daughter's wedding when they come to get him for the game. So, naturally, he just tells them to stop the wedding and wait until he gets back.

 

> The only odd thing about this film is Henry Fonda's hair. It just does not look right.

 

I didn't pay much attention to that! :P

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> > Isn't Jason Robards on his way to a wedding?

>

> He's actually in the middle of his daughter's wedding when they come to get him for the game. So, naturally, he just tells them to stop the wedding and wait until he gets back.

 

Right. Then after the game, I think he has a few words for the prospective groom.

 

> > The only odd thing about this film is Henry Fonda's hair. It just does not look right.

>

> I didn't pay much attention to that! :P

 

Look at the photo. That reminded me.

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A really terrific movie with an outstanding cast headed by Fonda and Woodward. It began as a TV show called "Big Deal in Laredo" on the Dupont Show of the Week in 1962. Some of the actors in the original were Walter Matthau, Zachery Scott, Teresa Wright and Roland Winter. Sadly the movie was the last film of Charles Bickford.

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> {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> Right. Then after the game, I think he has a few words for the prospective groom.

 

Your memory is impressive! He does indeed have a few words of advise for the would-be groom. To say more would be going into spoiler material. ;)

 

> Look at the photo. That reminded me.

 

I was taught when I was little that it was generally not considered polite to comment on a man's hair if it looked like a toupee or if he had a comb-over or something. So maybe I'm just hesitant to admit that his hair does look a bit funny, indeed. Whether or not it's a hairpiece, I've no idea.

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They do not make movies like this any more. It has an excellent plot and characters. If it was remade today they would have to add violence, nudity, profanity, special effects etc. which would do nothing to further the plot.

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I've had occasion to comment elswhere that a friend of mine maintained that this film was not actually a Western, but a caper/congame story. "*The Sting* with buckboards" was her description. The absence of gunfire, no violence in settling conflict, etc, were other points she brought up. My counter-argument was that the West became a character. The locals were not

stupid, but they fell short of realizing how smart the newcomers were. Their preconceptions about

the Eastern "Tenderfoot" became their downfall. Very much a Western.

 

"Hey, Doc! They're playing!"

"So am I, my boy, so am I."

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Well, I can see both points of view, and could probably argue both if I wanted to. There's no question that it isn't like a traditional Western, even if it has a lot of the familiar trappings.

 

Still, I kind of like that it has this setting, it probably wouldn't have been so memorable if it had been done in a more contemporary or urban setting, imho.

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Just a quick reminder, TCM is going to be showing A Big Hand for the Little Lady this Friday, March 19th, at 5:45pm Eastern.

 

*A Big Hand for the Little Lady* (1966)

A pioneer woman replaces her ailing husband in a poker game after he loses most of their money.

Cast: Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards Jr., Paul Ford Dir: Fielder Cook C-95 mins, TV-G

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>>It does have two actors who'd be reunited just two years later in Once Upon a Time in the West - Henry Fonda and Jason Robards.

 

Robards plays a character named Henry Drummond. Twenty years later, he would play another Henry Drummond in a TV movie based on INHERIT THE WIND.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing this again. It's been running on AMC recently and I really had to fight temptation there. I refuse to watch that channel with their constant ads that take up 1/3 of the time slot and those intrusive pop ups.

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Well, I'm sure you'll enjoy it when they show it on _Friday_ - uncut, uninterrupted, and in the original aspect ratio.

 

I hope others will get to watch it, too, especially those who've never seen it. The movie really does have one of those twist endings that is just a complete delight - I won't spoil it for anyone but it's one I've never forgotten! :D

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>>Well, I'm sure you'll enjoy it when they show it on Saturday - uncut, uninterrupted, and in the original aspect ratio.

 

Careful there - it's Friday that it's airing. It's too good a film to miss and I also recommend it highly.

 

I'm having a hard enough time adjusting clocks around here. Resetting the darn phone was more trouble than everything else.

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Ooopsie! I'm glad you caught that, clore - I fixed the earlier post just to avoid confusing anyone who might be looking at this thread later on.

 

So, just to make sure folks don't get confused - TCM is showing this on *Friday, March 19th* at 5:45 Eastern time. :)

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