As the biggest high-stake poker game in the West begins, compulsive gambler turned homesteader, Meredith, is drawn into the game. With the entire family fortune at stake, he suffers a heart attack when delt a winning hand.... more » Mary, his pluck penny-pinching, long-suffering wife, steps in. As she plays the hand, she assails her rivals with fortitude and guts. Each is transformed into a model of sensitivity. But a twist ending reveals Mary has had more than fortitude up her sleeve all along.« less
Henry Fonda in suspenseful card game with surprise ending
C. Roberts | Halifax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom | 01/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Big Hand for the Little Lady" is a great film which on the face of it appears to be a Western but how can it be when there is no gunfight on the town's main street, no saloon fights or bar room brawls, no sheriff to keep order and put the bad guys in jail, no Indians, in fact, not much "action" of any kind that would usually be associated with the Western film. So what is the appeal of this unusual film where most of the story takes place during a long drawn out card game in the back room of the town's hotel? The tension mounts as stranger in town Henry Fonda is tempted to get into the high stakes poker game with some wealthy cattlemen after he had promised his wife he would give up gambling. Obviously, he does join the game and is convinced that he has been dealt a hand that can't lose but the other players in the game also have good hands that each one feels could be the winner. Who is bluffing who? Can Fonda risk losing all the family savings of his wife and young son? Will the stakes go too high for Fonda to stay in the game? Can wife Joanne Woodward persuade Fonda to see sense and walk away? Surprise is piled upon surprise as the game progresses and the final twist is a beauty.
Some favourite lines from the film:
Jason Robards Jr (to Henry Fonda): "That's four hundred dollars to you. And you know something mister, you ain't got enough left to stay in this pot".
Henry Fonda (to Joanne Woodward): "I got a hand of cards here comes once in a lifetime".
Joanne Woodward (to card players): "How do you play this game?".
Paul Ford (to Joanne Woodward): "Nobody sees those cards but you and C. P. Ballinger".
What holds your interest is the finely plotted screenplay by Sidney Carroll and the magnificent acting from the entire cast. Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward in the lead roles are admirably supported by Jason Robards Jr, Charles Bickford, Kevin McCarthy, Burgess Meredith, Robert Middleton and Paul Ford. Competently directed by Fielder Cook it grips your attention throughout and then packs a totally unexpected surprise ending that will delight you!! Upon release in the U.K. the title was changed to "Big Deal at Dodge City" which was a strange choice as the action takes place in Laredo. Anyway, to sum up, a great film well worth looking out for with impeccable performances by the first rate cast."
This movie is a delight!
Gwen Geisinger | Brooklyn, NY | 10/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This unique sixties Western has it all - wonderful plot, amazing cast and can actually be enjoyed by the whole family! This is the kind of film that only gets better with repeated viewings. Personally, I am always mesmerized by Joanne Woodward's fabulous performance. Perfection! The rest of the cast is outstanding as well - the always hilarious Paul Ford, the great Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Burgess Meredith. IT IS SO FRUSTRATING THAT THIS IS NOT OUT ON DVD!!!!"
One Of The Best Poker Movies Ever!!
Dispatch911 | Waco, TX United States | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You know how I feel about this movie from my title....So When is it going to come out on DVD? I refuse to pay $10 to $20 for a crummy VHS tape, surely they will get a clue and release this classic film on DVD (I can hope)...The Others have done a fine job in reviewing this movie, I was just hoping that some Studio Researcher or big wig would see this and decide...Hey if the VHS sells so well, How about a DVD!!!"
An ace in the hole, suitable for most any audience
paul_howard | San Ramon, CA United States | 06/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Superior acting from an all-star cast would alone make this one a winner. Add a novel story line with continual twists and turns, nonstop action, and glimpses into human nature elicited through a big stakes poker game, and you end up with one of the best westerns ever filmed. The only negative surprise is how few people -- even movie buffs -- know about this one. The industry should make it available in DVD, but the VHS sound and picture quality are as close to DVD as anything I've seen."
Yay - Finally On DVD - Deal Me In!
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 08/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once a year, for 16 years, the richest men in the territory gather for the biggest showdown of the year. It's 2 fisted action in Laredo, but no guns are needed as the big event is the annual poker game. They gather behind closed doors in the town's hotel/saloon that caters to rowdy cattlemen. There's nothing more important and a 12:30PM sharp the game will start.
They drop whatever their doing to be there. Daughter's wedding?...fahgettaboutit..she can wait...Client about to go on trial..he must do without his lawyer. The stakes are high and the game must go on! At this year's game, however, there will be a new face at the table. A face we all know and love..Henry Fonda.
They've just come into town to have a wagon wheel fixed, this proper little family. Meredith, Mary, and little son Jackie. Meredith has a bit of a problem though....Poker..he's on the wagon from the game and is warned by his wife not to get involved in this high stakes game. But we see a look come over Meredith's(Fonda) face, and we know he can just taste the action. Yup..he in the pot for the family's life savings, and is holding a hand of a lifetime. But when tragedy strikes, and Meredith becomes too ill too play, the little woman, who knows nothing about the game, must take over for him.
Joanne Woodward is the Queen of Hearts as she steps in for her husband, trusting his judgement, and getting involved in this very serious game, with a pot already topping 20 grand. And wait to you see who else is at this table. Jason Robards, Kevin McCarthy, and Charles Bickford, are part of the action. Burgess Meredith and Paul Ford are also marvelous as they lend their great talents as well.
"Big Hand For The Little Lady" is one of those films that once seen, you can't help but to fall in love with it. A Western where all the action is at the poker table. The script keeps you glued to every moment. The dialouge is as rich as the pot in this big game. The end is a wonderful twist, that will have you floored if you have never seen it. Fonda, Woodward and the rest will take you on a fun ride. It's a group we are fortunate enough to be able to see all together in one film. Fielder Cook is the director who gets to work with all these greats(and does a superb job).
If you have seen this film, you were probably wondering the same thing as me..where the heck is the DVD for this classic piece of western fun. I love it so much I've been watching it over and over on my taped from TV VHS. It's wearing thin. So finally on DVD and available for pre-order -sign me up and deal me in! Happy Trails ....Laurie
also recommended: The Over the Hill Gang - AND - The Over the Hill Gang Rides Again Woman of the Town Empire Falls (Every Small Town Has a Big Story) Vol. 1