In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb large ouygaatyh4jzithj6fi3uyf31ri

Wonder

You’ll shed a tear or two—especially if you’re a parent—and they’ll be totally earned.

Thumb mv5bztg3yteznjytzty2ns00yjnmltlhnjutzti2m2e5ndi4m2njxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzi3mdezmzm . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 675 1000 al

Mudbound

The film invites us to observe its characters, to hear their inner voices, to see what they see and to challenge our own preconceived notions…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Five Card Stud

  |  

Sometimes a bit of movie dialog will come along and stick in your mind. Like Marlon Brando's in "One Eyed Jacks": "You scum-sucking pig, I'm gonna tear your arm off." That's so much more spirited dialog than the usual dialog in such situations, which runs toward "You bum!"

Then there's Peter Lorre in "Beat the Devil": "In Chile there are many Germans named O'Hara." And Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon" with a line later stolen for Rambler TV commercials: "You know, you're good. You're really good." And to this list must now be added a line from "Five Card Stud," when Robert Mitchum and Dean Martin face each other.

Advertisement

Mitchum is a preacher with a gun hidden inside his Bible. But the good book's upside down. Martin says: "If that is a Bible, read it. If it ain't a Bible, drop it."

In print, this line may not look like much. Neither may the others. But in a movie situation they represent the difference between professionalism and hackwork. "Five Card Stud" is not a great movie, but it's a polished, professional one, and it's a good deal more than a common Western.

The director is Henry Hathaway, who, like Howard Hawks, knows his way around the action Western. He also knows his way out of one. "Five Card Stud" has the elements of an action Western: lots of gun battles, fist fights, stranglings, barroom brawls, fires, and lady barbers with hearts of gold.

But it also has something rather rare, a well-made story. Most action Westerns are directed by rote: good guy, bad guy, a standard pattern of fights, an eventual triumph for the gentleman in the white hat. Not this one, which presents a suspense story in a Western setting.

At a card game, a stranger is caught cheating. He is taken out and hanged, despite the objections of Dean Martin. Then, mysteriously, the other members of the card game are strung up one by one. Suspicion spreads through the town, everybody arms himself, and there is a scene in which the hysteria gets out of hand and everybody starts shooting at each other.

There is good evocation of the paranoia which spreads through the town; an unusually restrained performance by Martin, which is effective; a satisfactorily evil villain played by Roddy McDowall; and a droll scene between Martin and Inger Stevens, who plays the barber with the heart of gold.

A footnote: Fans who enjoy spotting Alfred Hitchcock's walk-on bits in his movies can look for Hathaway in this one. During the scene in the U.S. marshal's office, he's the genial face peering in through the window behind Martin.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Why I Stopped Watching Woody Allen Movies

Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.

“Call of Duty” and “Wolfenstein” Redefine the Modern WWII Game

A review of two of the biggest games of 2017, a pair that use World War II in very different ways.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Messy Women of "Thor: Ragnarok"

Hela and Valkyrie are unusual for Marvel and blockbuster movies in general. Both are messy, complicated figures not n...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus