Monday, August 20, 2012

Aces and Eights

I can see why Tim McCoy was a big star in his day.  Despite the poor audio and picture quality, his charisma shines through Aces and Eights.  He plays Gentleman Tim Madigan, a professional gambler.  His lucky poker hand is the same as the one that allegedly was being played by Wild Bill Hickock, which is how the movie opens, although it is clear that part of the scene was cut.  But McCoy’s luck runs out in Nevada when he catches a card sharp cheating and the man later ends up dead.

Madigan rides with a sidekick who, early in Aces and Eights, draws his gun when his partner is accused of cheating; naturally the scene in the beginning of Exit from Wickenburg where Curry does the same thing sprang to mind.  Madigan, like Heyes, has a wry sense of humor: “Well, when there’s five aces on the table and you’re dealing…”

After the encounter with the card sharp, the remainder of this 1936 black-and-white movie deals with how Madigan clears his name.  He gets involved with a Mexican family and Don Hernandez, the patriarch, wears a costume that reminds me of Senor Armendariz.  The plot of Aces and Eights is actually rather good and it is a shame there is so much background static that the dialog is difficult to make out.

At only 62 minutes long, Aces and Eights would work very well as an episode of a TV series.  Oh wait!  It did become a TV series decades later: Maverick, a Roy Huggins show produced by Universal.  Could this movie have been an ancestor of Alias Smith and Jones???

A bonus for me was hearing the phrase “All bets are off!” uttered by a sheriff watching a poker game.  Aces and Eights was the first time I had ever heard the phrase in what I assume was its original context and that was a lot of fun.