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The Mississippi Gambler

The Mississippi Gambler(1953)

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Gambler Mark Fallon arrives in antebellum Mississippi and immediately meets Kansas John Polly, an expert cardsharp who, despite feigning inadequacy, fails to dupe Mark. Polly is even more impressed when he hears Mark's plan to become an honest gambler, and points out wealthy F. Montague Caldwell as an example of the crooked competition Mark will soon face. Mark is more intrigued, however, by lovely Angelique Dureau, who races into town with her brother Laurent and responds to Mark's attempts to help control her thoroughbreds by reproaching him angrily. That night, Mark joins a poker game with Laurent and Caldwell, and, after insisting on a clean deck of cards, wins so much money that Laurent must pay him with Angelique's heirloom necklace. Caldwell warns him that the next time he accuses him of playing with marked cards he might fall overboard by "accident," but Mark remains unintimidated. When Mark spots Angelique in town the next day, he attempts to return her necklace, but she refuses it. Soon after, Polly learns that Caldwell and his friends are planning to assault Mark, and spirits him onto a ship bound for New Orleans. Caldwell's henchmen quickly jump on deck and attack, but Mark fends them off long enough to jump off the boat with Polly. Within a few days they reach New Orleans, a city Mark loves. At a fencing club, his expertise attracts the attention of Edmond Dureau, the club's most accomplished jouster. Mark reveals to Edmond that he is a gambler who has provoked the ire of Edmond's son and daughter, but Edmond, who admired Mark's father, invites him to his home. There, Angelique continues to refuse the marriage proposals of banker George Elwood, and also spurns Mark. When he notices a portrait of her mother, who died in childbirth, which depicts her wearing the heirloom necklace, he gives the piece back to Edmond. Realizing that Mark is in love with Angelique, Edmond arranges to "bump into" her that night while they are with two beautiful women. She tries to hide her jealousy, but cannot. At the governor's ball held later that week, Mark tricks Angelique into dancing with him by asking her in front of the governor. On the dance floor, he informs her that although he knows she loves him, she must come to him of her own will. Over the next months, Mark earns money gambling to build his own restaurant and casino. One poker game is joined by Julian Conant, who bets badly and, after losing all his money, immediately shoots himself. Mark insists on notifying Julian's sister Ann, a sweet young woman who is now alone in the world. He and Polly help her through the next days, secretly funneling money into her account. As soon as Laurent sees Ann in town, he falls deeply in love with her, but when he proposes marriage, she admits that she loves Mark. He reveals Mark's feelings for Angelique, but she replies that she expects no reward for her love, and Laurent stalks out, enraged. That night, he drunkenly challenges Mark to a duel. Angelique soon hears that Mark has chosen pistols instead of swords, and visits his room to thank him. When he kisses her and accuses her of avoiding men because she is haunted by her mother's death, she runs out angrily. During the duel, Laurent shoots before the countdown is finished. Although Mark is permitted one free shot, he throws his pistols down. Humiliated, Edmond asks Laurent to leave his home, and is crushed when Angelique goes with him. Within days, Angelique is planning her marriage to George and protecting Laurent, who has been socially shunned. Saddened by both events, she visits Edmond, who welcomes her. He then visits Mark to urge him to stop the wedding, but agrees with the gambler that Angelique does not yet know herself well enough to marry happily. Days after the wedding, Laurent has disappeared and George is concerned about Angelique's distant manner. One day, Edmond hears a man refer to Ann as Mark's mistress and challenges him to a duel, which he loses. The same night, Laurent shows up in town and attacks Mark at a bar. They tussle, and Laurent dies, falling upon his own knife. When Mark visits Edmond's deathbed to relay the sad news, Edmond requests that Mark watch over Angelique. Soon after, Mark's financier friends reveal that they are pulling their money out of George's bank, potentially ruining it, because he spends too liberally. George will not listen to Mark's warnings, but when the bank fails, he disappears with the remaining monies, including Mark's. Mark now must resume his riverboat gambling to make more money, and although Ann lets him go gracefully, she breaks down after he leaves. Meanwhile, Angelique's marriage is quickly annulled, and she is compelled to move back into her father's house. There, while looking at her mother's portrait, she hears Mark's words in her head. She races to Mark's riverboat and, just before it sails off, jumps on board and into his arms. When she tries to explain, he kisses her before she can speak.