Searching for movies about bridge — the card game? We suspect that is not especially high on your “to do” list.

But this is summer, the silly season, so please indulge us. Our search for engaging classic films takes us to all sort of places.

We ran across an interesting book the other day, published back in 1996. It’s The Movie Guide for Bridge Players.  The editor was Pamela Granovetter, then editor of Bridge Today magazine.  While it lists 180 films, mostly classics, it omits the ONE classic film about the game of bridge.  Shame on you, Pamela!

Hello Everybody. Your classic movie guys,  Joe Morella (a confessed bridge addict) and Frank Segers (who knows nothing about the game; his idea of bridge is either Waterloo or Remagen), here to fill you in.

Back in the late Twenties and early Thirties the card game of bridge had swept the nation and Hollywood took notice.  First National Pictures produced Grand Slam, starring Loretta Young (above and radiant as always) and Paul Lukas as bridge champions who marry, fight and reunite all around the card table. Frank McHugh and Glenda Farrell were also featured in the 1933 release.

The film has not been released on video or DVD, but might be caught on tv.  Let us pray it hasn’t disappeared as have so many good ole films from the Thirties.  This one ought to be saved. (Are you listening Martin Scorcese?) We couldn’t even find a still from the movie; the shot above of Young was taken separately in the same year the movie came out.

“Grand Slam,” for those of you (like Frank) who know nothing of the game, refers to a player bidding seven of a suit, or no trump, and collecting all 13 tricks. Got that?

Frank prefers his bridge movies spiked with large gobs of humor as in the 1930 Marx Brothers comedy Animal Crackers, featuring Chico and Harpo conning fellow female players at the card table. In general, Hollywood lost interest in this most challenging card game as generations of younger audiences did.

In any case, please don’t confuse Grand Slam (the movie) with others of the same title. One is a now a largely forgotten 1967 heist movie made in Europe, and costarring Janet Leigh and Klaus Kinsky.  Because of various rights problems, it too is a hard to see today even on tv. And no one in the movie appears to have the slightest interest in playing bridge, the card game. Grand Slam also is the title of a 1978 British tv movie about the sport of rugby, and a 1990’s tv series about bounty hunters.

So, if any of you out there know anything about the Loretta Young version of Grand Slam, or any other film where bridge (the card game) is a pivotal part of the plot, please let us know.

While Granovetter’s book recommends dozens of fine films, the only one Joe can see with a connection to bridge is Bridge on the River Kwai. 

 

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