Few movies have captured the essence of professional gambling like The Gambler series. Based upon the popular country song of the same name as sung by Kenny Rogers, Rogers himself stars in the films alongside an entire cast of classic western actors.
The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw was the final film in the series to feature Kenny Rogers as poker player and gambler Brady Hawkes. The movie follows the adventures of Hawkes as he tries to make a big score before professional gambling is outlawed.
The Plot of The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw
All of The Gambler films follow a specific formula. Brady Hawkes generally finds himself in a situation which can only be escaped by his skills as a gambler. In this particular installment, Burgundy Jones is tasked with getting Brady Hawkes to a poker tournament in San Francisco before poker is outlawed. The female Jones is portrayed by country singer Reba McEntire.
Hawkes is at first resistant until he realizes that a familiar rival will be in the game. The rival recently beat Hawkes at poker in Europe. This tournament could possibly give Hawkes the chance to get revenge.
Will Brady Hawkes be able to win the tournament and make one final score before gambling becomes illegal? Will he lose everything in his quest for fame and fortune. These are the questions that this movie will answer.
How The Gambler Film Series Began
Country singer Kenny Rogers gave birth to the Gambler movies through his popular song of the same name. “The Gambler” is the song that put Rogers on the map in country music. It was released in November 1978 and written by songwriter Don Schlitz. Schlitz was just 23 when he penned the tune.
The song tells the story of a down and out gambler who takes a late-night train ride. He encounters an older gambler who agrees to give him the secret to success at gambling in exchange for a drink of the young man’s whiskey.
The advice given by the gambler in the song is legendary:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
While you’re sitting at the table.
There will be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done.”
At the end of his advice, the old gambler drifts off to sleep. Somewhere in the night he passes away, leaving the young gambler to conclude that he broke even.
The Cast of The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw
The Gambler Returns is filled with an entire host of well-know actors and country singers. Leading the way are Kenny Rogers who plays the main character, Brady Hawkes. He is joined by Reba McEntire as Burgundy Jones.
Rogers and McEntire lend a strong credibility to the film based on their following in the country music field. The producers of the film also enlisted the aid of many country and western actors of old such as Claude Akins. Akins portrays President Theodore Roosevelt.
In a twist that will surely please many fans of old western television programs, a cameo in the movie features Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford. The two of them reprise their roles as father/son duo Lucas and Mark McCain from The Rifleman television series.
Keen eyes will also spot western actors such as Hugh O’Brien and Dub Taylor. Looking for all the cameos is almost as fun as watching the main movie itself.
Is The Gambler a Realistic Gambling Film?
All of the films in The Gambler series take a realistic approach to gambling in many forms. The primary type of gambling depicted is poker. There are also other forms of gambling such as blackjack, craps, and even a vintage slot machine.
What may be most realistic about the series is that it shows the life lived by professional gamblers in the 19th century. Just living from day to day was often a struggle. Players had to make enough money to survive. They also had to worry about getting shot or knifed or accused of cheating when they won. Needless to say, that is why a lot of gamblers did not live to be very old. Maybe the song was right when it states the best a gambler can hope for is to die in their sleep.
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