Writing a con artist movie was a difficult chore for me; I knew next to nothing about cons and it was surprisingly tough to learn them well, to integrate them intuitively. I also needed to learn a bit about poker, and one thing I watched (and loved) was THE CINCINNATI KID.  (I was surprised to …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Patterns: THE CINCINNATI KID Beatsheet

Patterns: THE CINCINNATI KID Beatsheet

Writing a con artist movie was a difficult chore for me; I knew next to nothing about cons and it was surprisingly tough to learn them well, to integrate them intuitively.

I also needed to learn a bit about poker, and one thing I watched (and loved) was THE CINCINNATI KID.  (I was surprised to see some cool names arrive during the credits: screenplay by Ring Lardner, and editing by Hal Ashby.)

Opening Image: Man in Black at Funeral – iow Death, with Child (new Life), and Chance

Theme: “You’re just not ready for me yet”

Set-Up: The Kid plays an exciting game with violence ensuing, and a chase – the grime, seediness and brutality contrast with the arrival of Lancey Howard, refined genteel well-heeled, with high taste

Catalyst: NEWS… Lancey Howard is in town

Kid wants his shot at him

Debate: Shooter (the Half-Man who has already battled and been “gutted”, ruined, by Howard) warns the Kid off.

Kid meets girlfriend Christian, whom he ignores and doesn’t listen to, and screws. She works in the idea/theme: THEY CARED MORE ABOUT THEIR LIVES THAN THEIR HONOR

Break Into Two: I pegged it as Christian offering to leave – unless he wants her to stay. She leaves. Possibly there’s a ‘negative choice’ there, somehow – he could choose life with her, but he chooses to stay put. Rather than choose the “change”, he chooses “status quo” – stay here and continue with plan to play Lancey Howard.

B-Story: I don’t think it’s Slade…. Everyone’s already involved.  An exception is LadyFingers, who is mentioned around now, but who does not appear till much later.

Fun & Games: Rooster fight to the death for the amusement of the crowd. Story coasts on established stakes, relaxes to indulge. We see the crowd cheering and rooting for BLOOD in competition, which is what this movie is about

Slade threatening Shooter… not “fun”, and conflict-oriented, escalating, NOT cruising, NOT Fun and Games

The Kid visits Christian’s farm to meet her family, they make love in the grass by the river and her family is ultimately dazzled by him

Mid-Point: There’s an integration of his card skills with his lovelife/family life – he has a perfect happiness at that moment when Mom and Dad fall for him and Christian is thrilled they like him and he’s pleased with himself.

Bad Guys Close In: Melba taunts Shooter, she knows about Slade’s angle to force him to cheat and she wants the money – she humiliates him

Packing his overnite player bag, Kid has doubts

And then, nerves.

He’s late.

LadyFingers arrives… if there’s a B-Story here, I think it’s her (actually, she’s first mentioned Beginning of Act 2… hmmm)

She unearths the TRUTH that only she and Howard and audience know: he hasn’t been here in so darned long because he’s afraid to play the Kid (Good News in the Bad Guys…)
Crowd is on Kid’s side (some more Good News in these Bad Guys)

Howard and Kid meet for first time (One Hour Mark)

Kid checks for tricks and schemes and cheats

I would call this “More Set Up” now
– bonded cards
– rules
– agreements

Now gruelling card play

Howard has strategy to cut weaker players out at his near-will

Howard counsels Kid to not bother with a Girlfriend, just grab whatever pussy he can (ie. pointing thematically to Christian)

Kid realizes Shooter is cheating for him. He’s HORRIFIED, offended, angry, VIOLENT

Melba seduces Kid at long long last, purring

All Is Lost: Christian discovers Kid and Melba and is heartbroken.

Dark Night of the Soul: Slade now threatens the Kid – he’d better cheat or else Felix will take care of him (Whiff of Death…?) (Or just bodily injury…)

The Kid stares down Felix for a tense moment; he wins the moment.
Kid won’t cheat, he’s going to win for REAL!

Break Into 3: Kid returns to the Table, ready to win

Finale: final card game

The game scalates
Kid goes all in
Gets staked for 5000
Crowd KNOWS HE’S GOT HOWARD!!!
But… he doesn’t and he loses.
Everything.
“As long as I’m around you’re still second best, you might as well learn to live with it.”

Crumples outside, loses bet to the little kid: “Just ain’t ready for me yet!”
(Really this is the “Death Moment” to me)

Final Image: Lost, afraid, he hugs Christian, who’s very happy to hold him. A man and woman coming together is the opposite of the Death imagery in the opening shot/sequence

 

Conclusion: The story contains Snyder’s elements but it’s more than “just those elements”; it does not fit his proposed “paradigm of elements” perfectly.

Blake Snyder gave me the idea that movie stars are all reincarnations of old movie stars (Tom Hanks is Jimmy Stewart, etc); this movie showed me that Daniel Craig is the new Steve McQueen.