Screenwriter (based on the novel by Richard Jessup):
Steve McQueen rose to the
challenge of playing an up-and-coming poker player nicknamed "The Kid"
who sets out to dethrone "The Man" (Edward G. Robinson) as the city's
top player in 1930s New Orleans. The film takes its subject matter
seriously and gives a truthful depiction of many of the characteristics and mechanisms of
stud poker, particularly in the patiently paced decisive game. The
battle of wits and endurance between McQueen and Robinson has got a
crude lyrical quality to it. The same cannot be said of the vapid
romantic subplots involving Tuesday Weld as Christian Rudd and
particularly Ann-Margret as the stylized seductress Melba. She and some
of the film's ambient scenes are disappointingly directed by Norman
Jewison and appear dated and anachronistic in retrospect. Luckily, Karl
Malden, Rip Torn and Jack Weston spice things up and add a little verve
on our way to the big showdown. Hal Ashby edited, Lalo Schifrin provided
an unremarkable score.