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Five Card Stud

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 102 minutes

Starring: Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Inger Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Katherine Justice

Screenplay by: Marguerite Roberts
From a novel by: Ray Gaulden

Directed by: Henry Hathaway

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: None

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital Mono, French Dolby Digital Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (12 Scenes)

Released: June 4th, 2002

 

 

Van Morgan (Dean Martin) takes part in a game of Five Card Stud in a Colorado saloon that has deathly results. The stranger gambler cheats in the game, and Morgan tries to save his life after the other gamblers go after him for the man's cheating. Soon after, more people arrive in the town of Rincon and more people from that very game are killed in different way. As tension and paranoia build, the game of life and death seems to get smaller and smaller, and confusing and perplexing at the same time...

It seems Paramount has been releasing some off beat Westerns this month (June 2002) such as this, Will Penny and Bad Company. What makes "Five Card Stud" different is it's not a rootin' tootin' action revenge story, but rather, an interesting and often intriguing story of murder. I found the film to be pretty predictable right off the bat once the plot got underway, but it's still pretty entertaining and fun to watch. It's a bit creative and puts interesting twists. Some of it is superfluous (thanks to the decent direction of Henry Hathaway who sets the story up and makes it flow a bit overdone but still nicely), but it still carries its own weight with its snappy dialogue and plot that has a lot of key, necessary moments. It's good and flows well.

All the performances here are rather charming, actually. Dean Martin's protoganist is ample, fun and gives an interesting hero to cheer for. There's something mysterious about his character which works well. Robert Mitchum seduces us with his own brand of acting magic as Reverend Rudd, while Roddy McDowall is great but a bit slap happy. Other highlights include Inger Stevens and Katherine Justice. So, in all, you have a cool murder mystery in the old west. You won't need your brains, but if you like the genre or interesting approaches to stories, you will certianly have a good time.

 

The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent at best. Fleshtones and color saturation is really good on the image (the reds surely pop out), giving off the 1880s quite nicely, the greens of the card tables and rustiness of the bars. The hues and colors are well drawn out, feeling pretty natural. And for the most part, it's sharp too and the night scenes look pretty nice. The main gripe? This is one dirty print! Speckles, pieces of dirt, blemishes, scratches, nicks... you name it, it's here and it's quite constant. It gets annoying fast, which is shame, because otherwise, this is a good transfer, minus the slight noise and shimmering. The exterior day shots look great, too and so does background detail. Grain is kept to a minimum too. Natural though flawed stuff.

 

The English mono track in Dolby Digital is pretty superb. The excellent Maurice Jarre score sounds really strong on the mono track, as it gives off some bouncy, western flavor. Sound effects such as horses, background crowds and action portions really lift a lot of the track up to its maximum. Dialogue is also clean and nice to listen to, so it's all uniform and straightforward. Given, the track has limits with its low dynamics, but fidelity is fine. Good stuff for mono and the film, overall. Also included are English closed captions, English subtitles and a Dolby Digital French mono track.

 

No, Paramount isn't bluffing... there's nothing here. They lose.

 

"Five Card Stud" is a decent murder mystery, all set against the pale and looming west of the 1880s. The DVD has a good transfer and a good mono track, but no extras. Dean Martin fans, western fans and mystery fans will want to check this one out for a possible purchase. If you're intriguied, I encourage you to check it out as a rental. It's an overall solid flick to watch.