Dealing from the Bottom

A little scene in BEND OF THE RIVER demonstrates the benefits of home viewing —

Rock Hudson, whom we’ve just met, and Arthur Kennedy, who we met a while ago but still aren’t sure of, are playing cards with this fellow, Frank Ferguson. He tosses Rock a card.

“I’ll have another, from the top,” growls Rock.

“It WAS from the top,” growls FF.

Well, the fellows can’t agree, and soon Rock is shooting a pistol from the guy’s hand. The guy goes for another pistol with his other hand, and Arthur shoots him dead. But was the card from the top or the bottom? Was the guy a cheat? There’s some slight doubt, connected to our uncertainty about both Rock and Arthur (uncertainty which will be resolved in different directions as events take their course).

So I rewind and see that yes, the sneaky SOB was dealing from the bottom, making it possible for him to know what card he was giving Rock. I don’t know anything about cards, but I feel an obscure sense of victory. Maybe this is based on my still vivid recall of watching card-playing scenes as a kid and being completely lost as to what was going on (even western fistfights confused me unless the participants had on vividly contrasting shirts).

11 Responses to “Dealing from the Bottom”

  1. Christopher Says:

    not much to do in them days coming off the dusty trail besides drinking…finding a whore and playing CARDS!…..I can just see a saloon full of cowboys a twitterin and textin’ and talking on the cell.

  2. This is a northern western so it’s not even warm out. They made their own entertainment in them days… this one has a nice song from Kathleen Freeman at the piano.

  3. Odd that Lon Chaney Jr failed to put the bite on Evelyn Ankers in THE WOLF MAN or SON OF DRACULA yet did manage to take a chunk out of old Frank Ferguson’s jugular in A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN. Well, Larry Talbot always was a tragic figure.

  4. Christopher Says:

    like Charles Barton said of Lon..He was so out of it by 4 o’clock..he didn’t know where he was

  5. Christopher Says:

    Its funny..I actually have a prejudice of “northern” westerns over SOUTHERN westerns which means I haven’t really given this on a fair chance(I have seen it)..I just feel better in the south or southwest..

  6. Oh, i like anything with snow. DeToth’s Day of the Outlaw is a cracker. And I’d like to see the Harry Alan Towers production of Call of the Wild to see if it’s as good as my childhood memory of it. I suspect not.

  7. Tony Williams Says:

    David C. It is THE FAR COUNTRY where Kathleen sings as the “Harmony and Grits” duo. Despite Charlton Heston’s comment, “I’m sorry I screwed up Jack London” comment in AN ACTOR’S LIFE, the film is good, if not outstanding especially in the scene where Thornton imagines his civilized sexual castration at the hand of Michelle Mercier. In its way, this scene explains why Thornton lets Buck down as opposed to the heavy sled pushing he makes his canine friend do in the actual novel.

  8. You’re right. 48 hours after viewing them, those movies are already jumbled in my head.

    I remember really liking Mario Nascimbene’s score for COTW (and I still wonder why Mario doesn’t get more love).

  9. “I’ll have another, from the top,” growls Rock.

    –even though he was a bottom.

  10. Christopher Says:

    hey..I LOVE the 1972 chuck heston Call of the Wild…I saw it twice just recently.Carlo Rustichelli’s score, the DOGs-and the atmosphere are the real stars..I also like the Italian White Fangs too..See,I’ll like snow if its in a Spaghetti.
    My favorite snow western

  11. It’s Rustichelli??? So THAT’S why Nascimbene doesn’t get more credit!

    The Great Silence makes very fine use of its snowscapes. Although I do think, having established that a gun that’s been in the snow won’t fire, it’s a little cheeky of them to have one do so half an hour later…

    Alex Cox: “…and the ending is the most horrible thing ever.”

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