GAMBLER, PROFESSIONAL

   This character type is instantly recognizable in Westerns and is seldom confused with the cowboy hero, who also shows skill at cards. The professional gambler, reminiscent of riverboat gamblers prior to the Civil War, dresses and acts like a fine Southern gentleman. He wears a long frock coat and collared shirt with cravat, has a modicum of education, and knows how to treat a lady. Hatfield (John Carradine) in John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) defines the type. He shows himself to be a ladies’man, and he is treated with respect by Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), the officer’s wife and the one real lady onboard. Nevertheless, something is never quite right with Hatfield and he can only be trusted to a point. John Carradine made a career playing professional gamblers.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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