The Warner Archive August 20, 2019 DVD release of the 1965 Steve McQueen drama "The Cincinnati Kid" provides another chance to watch the PERFECT example of McQueen and his fellow young turks displacing Gold Age Hollywood royalty at various stages to becoming box-office poison. This largely is attributable to blond-hair piercing blue-eyed with bod from God McQueen oozing sexuality to which every man and woman all along the Kinsey Scale are vulnerable, NO ONE would choose the "kill" option in the game of three as to this macho man,
The back-cover liner notes for "Kid" include a review quote that aptly compares this film in which McQueen plays the titular card sharp with the 1961 Paul Newman film "The Hustler" in which that future real-life condiments king portrays pool shark Eddie Felson, who is out to dethrone Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). Tom Cruise co-starring with Newman in the 1986 "Hustler" sequel "The Color of Money" continues this "video killed the radio star" pattern.
The following trailer for "Kid" showcases all off the above (and more) while demonstrating the gritty look of mid-60s drama that leads to even more urban elements of this genre in the '70s.
Director Norman Jewison of "The Heat of the Night" and "Moonstruck" maintains a good pace as we see The Kid clean up both at the poker table and in the bath tub; the latter centers around a notable scene in which McQueen and sex kitten extraordnaire Tuesday Weld (who plays good country girl blossoming into liberated womanhood Christian) surely makes some original audience members glad that they can smoke in movie theaters in 1965.
The third member of this triangle is sultry red-head Melba (Ann-Margaret); she clearly views The Kid as an upgrade from husband Shooter (Karl Malden), who is work friend of The Kid.
All this occurs in the background of The Kid being invited to join the big boys as to playing a game hosted by legendary (but aging) professional poker player Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson). The on- and off-screen symbolism of this could not be any more obvious.
Some of the rest of this story is that The Kid is facing a damned-if-he-does and damned-if he-doesn't dilemma. Losing to Howard blows a big chance; winning makes him a target for the next rising star looking to take down the king of the table, This is not to mention villain of the film Slade (Rip Torn) covertly having his own horse in this contest between thoroughbreds.
Joan Blondell deservedly wins a 1966 USA National Board of Review best-supporting actress award for her portrayal of tough old broad Lady Fingers, who has earned her place at the table,
All those in front of and behind the camera do award-worthy work as to the filming of the climatic final game. You will live the tension and smell the sweat. This is partially due to getting caught up in seeing the spectators become engrossed in the game.
The genius of "Kid" continues with the "win. lose, or draw" conclusions being equally plausible and satisfying. As mentioned above, The Kid cannot fully win regardless of whether he is instrument of Howard's end or proves that he currently lacks the right stuff of which true legends are made,
The bonus features include audio commentary throughout by Jewison and scene-specific commentary by "kid in the hall" Dave Foley and his "Celebrity Poker Showdown" co-host Phil Gordon.
We also get a highly entertaining behind-the-scenes extra that teaches cast members the art of the deal.