The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

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Released 9-Aug-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Norman Jewison (Director)
Audio Commentary-Scene Specific - Phil Gordon And Dave Foley
Featurette-The Cincinnati Kid Plays According To Hoyle
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 98:33 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Norman Jewison

Warner Home Video
Starring Steve McQueen
Edward G. Robinson
Karl Malden
Tuesday Weld
Joan Blondell
Rip Torn
Jack Weston
Cab Calloway
Jeff Corey
Theodore Marcuse
Milton Selzer
Karl Swenson
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Lalo Schifrin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Are you a gambler? Have you ever enjoyed a game of poker? Do you know the difference between five card stud and draw poker? Did you like the Matt Damon/Edward Norton film Rounders? How about The Hustler starring Paul Newman? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should definitely consider this film, The Cincinnati Kid from 1965. If the title makes you immediately think 'western' that is understandable, as it certainly sounds like a western based upon the title alone, but I can assure you it is not. It is set in New Orleans in the 1930s and concerns itself with the world of professional poker players. It was directed by Irving G Thalberg award-winning director Norman Jewison, and was his first major dramatic film in a career which would go on to include such classic films as In The Heat of The Night, The Thomas Crown Affair (original), Fiddler on the Roof and ...And Justice for All. He was nominated for seven academy awards before receiving the Thalberg in 1999. He is still active and I recently reviewed a new film of his called The Statement starring Michael Caine. Interestingly, he was brought onto the project two weeks into shooting after the original director, Sam Peckinpah, was fired, an ongoing habit of Peckinpah throughout his career. Peckinpah actually wanted to make the film in black & white and so when Jewison took over he had to start from scratch in colour and with significant reworking of the script. Peckinpah was fired due to a disagreement with the producer over the use of a nude scene which was to have involved Sharon Tate, who later was one of the people killed by the Manson family in 1969.

    The story concerns a talented young poker player, Eric Stoner (Steve McQueen), who goes by the name The Cincinnati Kid. His mentor and best friend is Shooter (Karl Malden), a dealer who used to be a big-time gambler but now just plays the percentages. He went up against 'The Man', Lancey Howard (Edward G Robinson) some years before and proved he was not up to the challenge. Since then, Shooter has developed a reputation as an honest dealer who can be relied upon to deal a game straight. When Lancey Howard arrives in town looking for some people to play poker with, he arranges a game with William Slade (Rip Torn), a rich New Orleans businessman with the moral fibre of a wet sponge. Shooter arranges a showdown between Lancey Howard and The Cincinnati Kid and he is asked by Howard to deal for the game. After Slade is soundly beaten by Howard, he wants revenge and tries to blackmail Shooter into helping the Kid to win the game by dealing him crooked hands. The game itself is the climax of the film. Other players and attendees at the game include Yeller, another gambler (Jazz legend Cab Calloway) and another dealer, Ladyfingers (Joan Blondell who was Golden Globe nominated for her role).

    An important sub-plot involves The Kid's girlfriend, Christian Rudd (Tuesday Weld), who wants commitment from him but comes second to his card playing. She is young and fairly innocent and her family disapprove of her seeing him. The other important female character is Melba (Ann-Margaret), Shooter's wife, who is a femme fatale who finds it necessary to cheat at everything. A wonderful scene shows how she cheats while doing jigsaw puzzles. Melba and Christian have been spending time together, however Melba does not necessarily have Christian's best interests at heart, and certainly not her husband's. The film is based on a novel by Richard Jessup.

    This is an excellent film featuring a top quality cast, some great cinematography and a great moody atmosphere. It is tense and dramatic and features some excellent camera angles and visual ideas including the use of shadows and shooting through screens and curtains. Considering that this was Norman Jewison's first major dramatic film and that he was brought in two weeks into shooting, the result is quite incredible and is a testament to his skill as a filmmaker. The version included on the disc here is complete with a rather bloody cock-fight which was censored when the film was released in the UK. I do not have information regarding whether or not this film was shown complete or cut here in Australia.

    So, a wonderful film but the subject matter may mean that some people would not be interested in the film. I would still recommend it to those people as an excellent example of the art of cinema. For anyone who answered yes to one of the questions I asked at the beginning of this review, this is a must see. Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is excellent, especially for a film of this age.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is probably close to the original aspect ratio, although I do not have facts to back up this assumption. I am assuming that the film was originally 1.85:1.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. For a film from 1965, this looks excellent thanks in part to the high bitrate but also a very good transfer from a nice clean print. Shadow detail is very good for the age of the film. There is some light grain which is not distracting.

    The colour was wonderful, rich and solid throughout. The film has quite a muted colour scheme generally, which highlights the occasional use of red such as on the playing cards. The director's commentary discusses why this approach was taken.

    The only noticeable artefacts were some mild and irregular edge enhancement and an occasional black or white spot such as the black one at 23:50.

    There are subtitles in English and English for the hearing impaired along with 7 other languages. The English subtitles were clear, easy to read and virtually exact to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 57:26 and caused a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French and Italian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Lalo Schifrin is very good. The soundtrack also includes a theme song by Ray Charles and some New Orleans jazz, especially during the opening funeral sequence.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    On offer is a set of extras that although not huge in number are excellent in quality.


    The menu was still and silent and allowed for the selection of scenes, languages and subtitles.

Commentary - Director, Norman Jewison

    An excellent commentary - one of the best I have heard recently. He is articulate, forthright and interesting discussing the production, the issues with Peckinpah, the lighting, cinematography, casting, editing, locations and the setting of New Orleans, poker and much more. Listen to this one!

Scene Specific Commentary - Phil Gordon, Professional Poker Player and Dave Foley, Actor (45:13)

    This commentary focuses on the scenes where actual poker games are played. The two commentators are the co-hosts of a US TV show, Celebrity Poker Showdown. You may remember Dave Foley from TV shows such as News Radio. He's a bit of a smart ass but between the two of them this commentary gives much insight into the game of professional poker including techniques, strategies, keys to being a great player and how to cheat. Very interesting and an excellent choice to master the disc so that it automatically jumps to the next scene where they provide commentary rather than having to sit through parts of the movie where they do not commentate.

Featurette (6:16)

    This is an original featurette from the time the film was made, which is called The Cincinnati Kid plays according to Hoyle. It shows a professional card player teaching the crew how to play poker and how to cheat at poker. Joan Blondell is featured. The film is 4x3 and black and white.

Theatrical Trailer (2:53)

    Good quality trailer, presented 16x9 enhanced.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie was released earlier in the year in Region 1 in a very similar format. The differences are quite minor and are as follows:

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis you may as well call it a draw, unless you speak one of the languages above.


    A classic movie about professional poker starring a great cast.

    The video quality is excellent considering the age of the film.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a small collection of high quality extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, October 07, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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