The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw Movie (1991)

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Year 1991

Running Time 240 min

Writers Joe Byrne, Jeb Rosebrook

Director Dick Lowry

Genre Western / Sequel. TV Movie

Music Stan Jones, Marty Wereski


Kenny Rogers Brady Hawkes

Rick Rossovich Ethan Cassidy

Reba Mc Entire Burgundy Jones

Claude Akins Theodore Roosevelt

Dion Anderson Fight Promoter

Gene Barry Bat Masterson

Johnny Crawford Mark Mc Cain

Chuck Connors Lucas Mc Cain (The Rifleman)

David Carradine Caine

Linda Evans Cate Muldoon

James Drury Jim

Doug Mc Clure Doug

Hugh O’Brian Wyatt Earp

Jack Kelly Bart Maverick

Clint Walker Cheyenne Bodie

Christopher Rich Lute Cantrell

Paul Brinegar Cookie


Brady Hawkes (Kenny Rogers) features again as the Western cardsharp in this comic adventure film. He is on the verge of losing his means of living as a law banning gambling is about to be passed. Brady Hawkes decides to head from Mexico to San Francisco to test his prowess in the Super Bowl of poker games.

His travelling companions are more than a dozens of Western icons. He runs into the Rifleman (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark Mc Cain (Johnny Crawford), Bat Masterson (Gene Barry), Wyatt Earp (Hugh O’Brian), Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker), and Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) all of whom are famous Western legends.

He is also accompanied by Ethan Cassidy (Rick Rossovich) and country singer Burgundy Jones (Reba Mc Entire). Actually, the latter is the one that misleads Brady Hawkes telling him that she would stake on him. The offer comes with conditions as he was supposed to compete against four other gamblers including Lute Cantrell (Christopher Rich), a gambler who barely loses at all.

After the Burgundy’s mini-match, they all head to San Francisco. Shoot-outs occur afterwards as greedy losers follow their trail, but Brady manages to set off with the money before they got there. The idea of Brady winning the competition gets even more complicated, as one of his fierce rival from England was also at the tournament.


Dick Lowry exceptionally directs the film epitomized by a galaxy of old TV Western characters played by the initial actors. The characters are in-attendance of a gambling match in a tribute to “Mr. Paladin” who had passed on in 1981.

The hotel in which Paladin lived is set as the venue of the poker game. Brady Hawkes is a well- known gambler and everyone, including President Theodore Roosevelt (Claude Akins) is delighted to face him.

Reba McEntire, a former saloon singer steals the show with the sexiest leather cowboy outfit ever. Her dressing is of absolute class and elegance in relation to that era. Being an admirer of Hawkes’ poker skills, she even decides to sponsor him to represent her group of madams in the tournament.

Reba fits right in the movie as a heroine who can read between the lines. She engages the Mexican criminals with a Gatling gun after they accused Brady Hawkes of cheating.

The film also highlights a new sense of humor that is uncommon in most Westerns. Paul Brinegar’s (Cookie) monologue in the film is presented in a funny way. I had to replay it over and over. The inspired casting of characters who had previously featured as funny characters in other films also triggers humor.

The conversations of the gamblers during the poker game also come out in an exciting way. Luke Cantrell tells Brady that he is barely a gambler that talks about having a good hand but he only wishes he had one.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to see the best of Joe Byrne and Jeb Rosebrook as their side of humor is overly overshadowed by gunfights, battle matches, and agenda games.

There is also an absence of Bruce Boxleitner as one of the lead characters as it has been the case in the previous films. He was the best sidekick to Brady Hawkes and he always spoke about going to San Francisco to play poker. What appears to big a big dream of his is not fulfilled in the film.

Although Reba McEntire brought another dimension in the film, I think the story would have been even sweeter with Bruce Boxleitner present.

Being a more imaginative film of the sequel, I was greatly pleased by the comic nature of the movie. However, the lack of Bruce in this edition is a big disappointment for me.


It’s no doubt a good adventure film and many will surely enjoy spending a cool 4 hours watching some top Western TV stars. The introduction of Reba McEntire, who runs a brothel and admirer of Kenny’s poker skills, adds spice to the movie. All things considered, a rating of 6.7 out of 10 sounds just ideal for this one.

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