A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)

A Big Hand For The Little Lady (1966)A Big Hand for the Little Lady is an American western film released in 1966 by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film was adapted from a TV play called "Big Deal in Laredo," which aired in 1962. The British release of A Big Hand for the Little Lady is entitled "Big Deal at Dodge City. The film stars Henry Fonda, Joanne Woodward, and Paul Ford.

The film was marketed with a couple of taglines during its promotional period, including "All the action you can take… all the adventure you can wish for!" and "Join in the thrills of the wildest action in the West!"

Cast and Crew of A Big Hand for fhe Little Lady

Henry Fonda has the leading role in A Big Hand for the Little Lady as Meredith, opposite Joanne Woodward as Mary. Jason Robards plays Henry P.G. Drummond, and Paul Ford plays C.P. Ballinger. The cast is rounded out with Charles Bickford, Burgess Meredith, Kevin McCarthy, Robert Middleton, and John Qualen.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady was directed and produced by Fielder Cook. The screenplay for the film was written by Sidney Carroll, while the soundtrack was composed by David Reskin. Lee Garmes acted as cinematographer.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady was released in 1966, and has a running time of 95 minutes.

Plot Synopsis of A Big Hand for the Little Lady

Each year, the five wealthiest men in the area gather together in Laredo for an annual game of high-stakes poker, regardless of any current events happening at the time. Tropp, the local undertaker, calls for the players from a horse-drawn hearse. Henry Drummond, a cattleman, postpones his daughter’s wedding and Otto Habershaw, a local lawyer, leaves his closing arguments during a trial, leaving his client’s life in jeopardy. Buford and Wilcox join the aforementioned trio at Sam’s saloon to conduct their poker game.

Meredith, Mary, and their song Jackie are traveling through the area, looking to buy a farm near San Antonio. Their journey is cut short when they break a wagon wheel. They find themselves at Sam’s saloon while waiting for the blacksmith to make the repair. Meredith, a recovering gambling addict, finds out about the poker game and wants to sit in, if only to watch. Mary discourages him, but Meredith accepts an invitation from Habershaw while Mary isn’t paying attention. Meredith ends up buying into the game and putting his family’s entire savings at stake (the funds they intended to use for a new home).

The game wears along, and finally builds to a climax where the other players continue to raise until over $20,000 is contained in the pot. Meredith has run out of money, and is unable to call. He collapses under the stress, and Joseph "Doc" Scully is summoned to care for him. Meredith tells Mary to finish playing the hand for him. Mary sits down, and asks the men how to play. The high-rollers are disgusted at the idea of playing with a female competitor, especially considering that she doesn’t know the rules. After a time, they give in and explain that she must match the last raise to stay in the hand.

Mary exits the room intending to borrow additional money, followed by her son and some of the other players. Mary brings her hand across the street to a local bank, where she shows the banker, Ballinger, her hand and asks for a loan, which she receives. The other players know that the banker has a reputation for being tight with money, and as such, they fold when they see that he has offered Mary a loan. Mary collects her money and repays the banker.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady closes with a twist ending. It is revealed that Meredith, Mary, and even there supposed son are con artists who were actually in town specifically to hustle the five high rollers in their annual poker game. Mary, Meredith, the banker, and the doctor were in on the scam together, intending to exact revenge on the five players who ripped off the banker in a real estate scam many years previous. Mary turns out to be "Ruby," the girlfriend of the banker.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady ends with Mary breaking her promise to Ballinger that she would stop gambling, and sitting down to yet another poker game.

Additional Facts about A Big Hand for The Little Lady

A Big Hand for the Little Lady was originally written for television as "Big Deal in Laredo," and many critics complained that the director’s lack of film experience was detrimental to the movie.

A Big Hand for the Little Lady marked the final film appearances for both Charles Bickford and comedian Chester Conklin. Conklin had previously appeared in over 300 movies since 1913.

Although A Big Hand for the Little Lady received little attention when it was initially released, it has acquired more fans in recent years through appearances on cable movie channels. Joanne Woodward was nominated for a Golden Laurel award for Best Female Comedy Performance, for her role as Mary.