Director: Fielder Cook
Genre: Western, Comedy, Adventure
Duration: 95 minutes
Set in the Western frontier just shy of the 20th century, where cattlemen’s saloons’ backrooms buzzed with high-stakes poker games, “A Big Hand for the Little Lady” invites viewers to a dramatic, comedic adventure. Meredith (played by Henry Fonda), a recovering poker addict, gets lured back into the game, staking his family’s entire savings. His sudden collapse pushes his wife to take over the game, making for a series of twists that keep audiences on edge.
Fielder Cook, renowned for his television productions, seamlessly ventures into film, crafting a 95-minute narrative filled with tension, humor, and surprises. The film majorly unfolds around the poker table, a compact setting that brilliantly showcases the conflicts and dynamics among the characters.
Meredith, the unfortunate perpetual loser, is remarkably portrayed by Fonda. His palpable anxiety contrasts starkly with his wife’s newfound grit and determination. The men at the poker table, rude and condescending, amplify the pressure, giving the audience a rollercoaster of emotions.
Interesting character arcs, such as Drummond’s decision to leave his daughter’s wedding for a poker game, add layers of comedy and irony to the plot. Habershaw (Kevin McCarthy), another rich player, softens the rough edges of the narrative with his evident kindness towards Mary.
While Fonda excels in his role, the real star might be Woodward, embodying the devoted wife yet turning tables with her unexpected move in the game. This twist is not just surprising but a delightful play on the norms of the time.
The movie, with its theatrical undertones, does a stellar job in keeping the audience invested, culminating in a climax that leaves the true nature of the game’s sucker ambiguous, making “A Big Hand for the Little Lady” an unmissable cinematic gem.
8.5/10 – An intriguing blend of Western drama with comedic undercurrents, all hinged on the unexpected events of a high-stakes poker game.