Although my wife cannot understand why I refuse to remove it from the TiVo, perhaps my other readers can. My wife is the biggest film buff that I know, and keeps a online movie review journal, so perhaps even she can reap some benefit from my discussion here of this film. Perhaps it will make up for it floating around the TiVo for as long as it has. A few months ago, The Cincinnati Kid aired on Turner Classic Movies. I've saved it, watching parts of it from time to time over the past few months, and I watched parts of it again this morning. I have seen it more times than any other poker movie, and I have seen just about every one of them. I do have a bit of goofy, pointless pride about my connection to this one, though, as I first saw it in graduate school while sitting in my living room in the middle of the actual Cincinnati, just after returning from a conference in New Orleans. (The actual action of the film takes place entirely there; The “Kid” himself is a transplant, hence the name.)
This movie has often been criticized, because for some, much of the “poker isn't real enough“. I actually disagree pretty strongly; I frankly think that everyone is quibbling about the wrong things.
I am going delve into some analysis of the movie, but not from the perspective you usually see it. The poker accuracy isn't all that bad, frankly, despite the years of debate about it. I think most tend to look too much at the technical details and not its thematic study of poker. ( I am going to hide it the bulk of the discussion behind this cut, because while the movie was released in 1965 and spoiler time has long since passed, I know that some of my regular readers haven't seen the movie, and you should before poisoning yourself with the age-old debate about it. )
The last word on the subject is that I have yet to see a better poker movie. The Cincinnati Kid shows with nuance and depth what poker is. Poker changes people's lives; it becomes a confined space where their deepest fears and aspirations manifest. The Kid, both the film itself and the character (played flawlessly by Steve McQueen) gives us a window into how poker takes hold and subtly changes people as they face the personal challenges that were once concealed, and are now made obvious in the game. If you see only one poker movie in your life, see this one. BTW, leave Rounders last on your list, as it's deeply overrated even if the poker is more “accurate”.