To be fair I have not seen a lot of Henry Fonda movies. I don’t know why, I’ve just missed them, not exactly on purpose, just the way things have worked.
This movie also has the woman that has kept Paul Newman happy forever, and its pretty easy to see why- and if anyone says you can’t stay married in Hollywood (Will Smith) this is a power couple you can point out. She is drop dead gorgeous, good move Luke. Next up is – Holy Poker Hands Batman! Its the Penguin! Oh My Lawd Burgess Meredith is in this one? This one has to be awesome! Jason Robards? Guy looks the same as he does in Parenthood. Amazing how his looks, his voice and his attitude has not changed one iota. The final guy I know is the evil guy from UHF, I’ve seen him in more things, but that is where I always go back to with him. Mainly because I love Weird Al’s UHF- and also because he was just SO damn evil in that movie, and just oozed out the screen.
Laredo, Texas. A man pulls up on a stagecoach, and Jason Robards blows off his daughters wedding to climb aboard, then jump to a lawyer skipping out on closing arguments, and the rest join up in a bar. These are the five richest men in the area, and they get together for a one day poker game. Simple setup.
Outside, Henry Fonda shows up with his family and a broken wagon. Fonda finds out about the poker game, and begs his wife to let him watch, just watch. The Evil Dude from UHF (Kevin McCarthy) takes one look at his wife, and convinces the others to let him watch. Whaaa? If McCarhty is going to let Fonda in the game, and we all know its building to that- and McCarthy is staring at his wife- this is going to get interesting. Well, no, look when this movie was made, but for a second. . .
So Henry eventually gets into the game, and starts to lose a bit of money. Fonda eventually starts to go through the family’s savings over his kids objections. The other gamblers have a ball laughing at Fonda, and his acting here is amazing. We get to a giant pot, and Fonda thinks he has it all. The gamblers pull a dirty trick, raising Fonda until he has no money left. By strict rules, he’s done. He tries to sell anything he can, but the gamblers just want the cash. Fonda stresses himself out and either has a stroke or an aneurysm. While the Penguin is brought in, the wife shows back up. She’s ticked, but Fonda convinces her to take over the hand. She has no idea how to play poker, asking for instructions, but basically the men tell her she needs to come up with cash to match the raise.
So lets go over this one, shall we?
The acting is top notch. Kevin McCarthy is frikken awesome. The evil slimeball I enjoyed in VHS is in full force here, decades prior, and just chews everything he’s allowed to get a tooth on. Henry Fonda is just a tortured soul, and well worth his reputation. The star of the show is Jason Robards. Just an amazing performance, he has the best role, and you can read so much on his face. I will say that Joanne Woodward is a stunner- and the picture at the top has no bearing on what she or anyone else in this film wears.
I’m not going to do any spoilers, the movie is the movie but the twist at the end does take away from it a good bit- you know its a play right? The ending just screams something for the audience to take away.
I will say the modern viewer will have problems here, its a great movie to sit down and watch and you could easily move this to 2015 with no problem, but good luck replicating the cast with the same talent. Give it a shot in the comments!
Big Hand of the Little Lady is a solid 6 movie. Watch this one at your earliest possible convenience.
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