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A Big Hand for the Little Lady

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4.7/5 Amazon

Genre  Western
Music director  David Raksin
Writer  Sidney Carroll
Language  English
7.4/10 IMDb

Director  Fielder Cook
Initial DVD release  November 6, 2007
Country  United States
A Big Hand for the Little Lady movie poster
Release date  May 31, 1966 (1966-05-31)
Based on  Big Deal in Laredo 1962 NBC teleplay  by Sidney Carroll
Cast  Henry Fonda (Meredith), Joanne Woodward (Mary), Jason Robards (Henry Drummond), Paul Ford (Ballinger), Charles Bickford (Benson Tropp), Burgess Meredith (Doc Scully)
Similar movies  Poker Night, His Girl Friday, Dilemma, Spades, Ricky Jay plays poker, The Poker Club
Tagline  All the action you can take...all the adventure you can wish for!

A Big Hand for the Little Lady (released in the UK as Big Deal at Dodge City) is a 1966 Technicolor western film, made by Eden Productions Inc. and released by Warner Bros. The film was produced and directed by Fielder Cook from a screenplay by Sidney Carroll, adapted from their TV play Big Deal in Laredo which aired on the The DuPont Show of the Week in 1962.


A Big Hand for the Little Lady movie scenes

The film stars Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, Paul Ford, and Jason Robards, with Charles Bickford, Burgess Meredith, Kevin McCarthy, Robert Middleton, and John Qualen. The original TV play starred Walter Matthau as Meredith.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters2150p2150p


A Big Hand for the Little Lady A Big Hand for the Little Lady Wikipedia

The five richest men in the territory gather in Laredo for their annual high-stakes poker game. The high rollers let nothing get in the way of their yearly showdown. When undertaker Tropp (Charles Bickford) calls for them in his horse-drawn hearse, cattleman Henry Drummond (Jason Robards) forces a postponement of his daughter's wedding, while lawyer Otto Habershaw (Kevin McCarthy) abandons his closing arguments in a trial, with his client's life hanging in the balance. They are joined by Wilcox (Robert Middleton) and Buford (John Qualen) in the back room of Sam's saloon, while the curious gather outside for occasional reports.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady A Big Hand for the Little Lady 1966

Settler Meredith (Henry Fonda), his wife Mary (Joanne Woodward), and their young son Jackie (Gerald Michenaud) are passing through, on their way to purchase a farm near San Antonio, when a wheel on their wagon breaks. They wait at Sam's while the local blacksmith repairs it. Meredith, a recovering gambler, learns of the big poker game and begins to feel the excitement once again. During a break, Otto Habershaw catches a glimpse of Mary in her violet dress. Being so enchanted by her, he permits Meredith's request to watch the game only if Mary allows him. The newcomer buys into the game, eventually staking all of the family savings, meant to pay for a home.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady A Big Hand for a Little Lady Theatrical Trailer Warner Archive

The game builds to a climactic hand; the gamblers raise and re-raise until more than $20,000 is in the pot. Meredith, out of cash, is unable to call the latest raise. Under the strain, he collapses. The town physician, Joseph "Doc" Scully (Burgess Meredith), is called to care for the stricken man. Barely conscious, Meredith signals for his wife to play out the hand.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady Amazoncom A Big Hand for the Little Lady Henry Fonda Joanne

Taking his seat, Mary asks, "How do you play this game?" The other players object loudly to playing with someone who does not know the game, but eventually give in. The situation is explained to her: if she cannot match the last raise (and any others that may follow), she will be out of the hand.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady COVERSBOXSK Big Hand for the Little Lady A 1966 high

Despite the men's protests, she leaves the room to borrow additional funds. With Jackie and four of the players trailing behind, Mary crosses the street and talks to the owner of the Cattle and Merchants' Bank, C. P. Ballinger (Paul Ford). After she shows him her hand, Ballinger assumes she is playing a practical joke. When he learns otherwise, he loans her $5,500 (at 6% interest) and makes a $5,000 raise for her. The other players, aware of Ballinger's tightfisted, cautious nature, all reluctantly fold. Mary collects her sizable winnings and pays Ballinger back with interest. The game then breaks up, no one ever having seen the winning hand.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady A Big Hand for the Little Lady Warner Archive Collection DVD

The lady's determination earns her the admiration of the men. Even Drummond, the most hard-hearted of the bunch, is so touched that, when he returns home to the waiting wedding ceremony, he talks privately to his weak-willed, prospective son-in-law, gives him some money, and orders him to run away and find himself a better wife than his daughter.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady A Big Hand for the Little Lady 1966 Montaje con escenas de la

The final scene takes place in the gambling town of Black Creek, where it is revealed that Meredith, Mary, and even their "son" are confidence tricksters and expert card sharps. Together with Ballinger and Scully, they have perpetrated a scam on the five poker players, who had swindled the banker in a real estate deal sixteen years before. "Mary" is actually Ballinger's girlfriend Ruby. She had promised him she would give up gambling after the caper, but it becomes clear that she had no such intent when she sits down to another poker game.


Joanne Woodward was nominated for the Golden Laurel Award for Female Comedy Performance.


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