Aces and Eights (June 6, 1936)
Released June 6, 1936: A card shark robs a man of his family home, and another card shark comes to their rescue.
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by George Arthur Durlam and Joseph O'Donnell.
The Actors: Tim McCoy ('Gentleman' Tim Madigan), Luana Walters (Juanita Hernandez), Rex Lease (Jose Hernandez), Wheeler Oakman (Ace Morgan), J. Frank Glendon (Amos Harden), Charles Stevens (Captain Felipe de Lopez), Earle Hodgins (Marshal Tom Barstow), Jimmy Aubrey (Lucky), Joseph W. Girard (Don Julio Hernandez), Barney Beasley (barfly), Frank Ellis (Deputy), Jack Ellis (deputy), Oscar Gahan (gambler), Karl Hackett (Wild Bill Hickok, prologue narrator), Jack Kirk (gambler), Clyde McClary (Saloon swamper), John Merton (card sharp), Milburn Morante (patrolman), Artie Ortego (patrolman), Fred Parker (bartender), Tom Smith (spectator), Robert Walker (croupier).
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When I was a kid, and even a young adult, I never missed a chance to watch the television re-runs of "Maverick", with James Garner as a professional gambler who muddles his way through the west, always getting into trouble himself, and at the same time getting poor victims of other gamblers and gangsters out of trouble. I never thought I'd ever find a cowboy western movie that had the spirit of Maverick, but I have found one, and this is it!
As our movie opens, we learn about the origins of the term 'aces and eights' - the hand that Wild Bill Hickock had in his hand when he was shot in the back and killed by an enemy. But that hand was a very lucky hand for our card sharp in this movie, and it provided that salvation for the Hernandez Rancho, and helped prove two men innocent of murder.
Gentleman Tim Madigan (Tim McCoy) is one of the best known card sharps in the west, making his good living by gambling and cheating. But he seems to be a pretty good natured fellow, and only cheats other cheaters. During a card game in a town in Nevada, he catches a fellow dealing from the bottom of the deck, and by palming a card, exposes him as a cheat. Just as a showdown is about to happen between the two men, the Sheriff enters and recognizes Gentleman Tim, and orders both men to leave the saloon and take their disagreement outside. The two men go outside and meet under a tree some distance from town and discuss the cheating. Now there are two men watching them, one is Jose Hernandez, a fellow in the card game that has lost a lot of money to the cheat, and the other is a stranger in town, but was also part of the game, crooked businessman Ace Morgan. Gentleman Tim and the card cheat talk about the game and then Gentleman Tim goes on his way. Then Jose, who has lost much money to the card cheat approaches and asks for his money back. A scuffle ensues, and Jose apparently shoots the man and kills him. But the shot Jose fired did not hit the man - it was Ace Morgan, hiding behind the tree - that actually killed the cheat. Next the Sheriff comes over when he hears the shots, but both Jose and Ace have fled, leaving the card cheat on the ground dead. The Sheriff assumes that it was Gentleman Tim that killed the man, and chases him from Nevada into California, where Tim has fled to avoid the Sheriff, after seeing wanted posters with his name on them.
In California, Tim will get mixed up with Rancho Hernandez, the family of Jose Hernandez, the fellow that thinks he killed the card cheat. It turns out that Ace Morgan, the real killer of the card cheat, is about to use forged papers to take over the Hernandez Ranch, because he has discovered that there is a valuable vein of gold on the land. Gentleman Tim finds out just enough to know that Ace is cheating them, and he gets into the mix to help them save the ranch, even if he needs to cheat at cards to do it.
Pop a nice big bowl of white kernel popcorn drizzled with lots of warm melted butter and watch as the Sheriff chases Tim, and Ace cheats Jose and his dad, and Tim cheats the saloon owner, who is also a card cheat, and finally saves the ranch, and provides the bullet that proves his and Jose's innocence in the killing, and saves the ranch. You'll also enjoy some rare wit in this one thanks to the talented writers. I particularly enjoyed the line where the Sheriff tells Tim that the card cheat that he left at the beginning of the movie was dead - deader than his Aunt Emma's chances at matrimony. Now that is really DEAD!