5 Card Stud (1968) [DVD, Paramount Import - English menus, audio & subtitles options]

5 Card Stud (1968) [DVD, Paramount Import - English menus, audio & subtitles options]

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To call this western a “sleeper” might sound as if you were trying to say something about the laconic performance styles of the two leads, Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum. A Wild West variation on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, 5 Card Stud is a lightweight affair with a star-studded cast, which makes for good if undemanding viewing.

When a stranger is caught cheating at cards, the other players decide that a lynching is in order. Soon, however, the members of the lynch party begin to die one by one, each by a form of strangulation. Van Morgan (Dean Martin) is the only one who tries to stop them, and fearing he may be next on the killer’s list he returns to town and with the aid of a passing preacher, the Reverend Jonathan Rudd (Robert Mitchum), sets out to catch the culprit.

The attentive viewer may solve the mystery early on, but there’s still fun to be had in the typically arch performance of Roddy McDowall as the weaselly Nick Evers (though McDowall is undeniably miscast as a denizen of the Wild West), Yaphet Kotto - soon to find fame as the villain opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973) - as Little George, and the ever-lovely Inger Stevens - fresh from two other westerns, the Henry Fonda/Jimmy Stewart collaboration Firecreek and Clint Eastwood’s American spaghetti Hang ’Em High - as Lily Langford.

Director Henry Hathaway had one more great western ahead of him the following year, when he directed John Wayne as Rooster Coburn in True Grit (1969).

Spanish Region 2 PAL (fully UK-compatible) DVD, Paramount 2010, Cert. 12

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