The Lady Gambles

The Lady Gambles
Directed by Michael Gordon
Produced by Michael Kraike
Written by Halstead Welles
Screenplay by Roy Huggins
Story by Lewis Meltzer
Oscar Saul
Starring Barbara Stanwyck
Robert Preston
Stephen McNally
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Milton Carruth
Universal International
Distributed by Universal International
Release dates
  • May 20, 1949 (1949-05-20) (New York City)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Lady Gambles is a 1949 film noir drama film directed by Michael Gordon starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Preston and Stephen McNally.


When his estranged wife Joan is found badly beaten after using loaded dice in a back-alley game, David Boothe looks back on how she came to this sorry state.

A reporter from Chicago, he is on an assignment at Hoover Dam, so he and his wife stay at a hotel in Las Vegas. There the casino's owner, Corrigan, introduces her to gambling with a few chips on the house.

Joan eventually loses $600 of David's expense money, as well as pawning a camera, before winning it back. Gambling excites her. When her sister Ruth joins them in Nevada, her husband decides to leave. Ruth has always been a divisive presence, manipulative and neurotic.

Corrigan flirts with Joan and persuades her to be his proxy in a poker game. She wins $4,000 and is given a share. But the game lasts till dawn, and when David phones from the road, Ruth tells him Joan has not slept in her bed all night.

He returns to Vegas and can see how gambling has her hooked. David quits his job and takes her to Mexico, where he intends to write a book. A couple Joan met in Vegas get her into a dice game, where she loses all of their life savings. David leaves, intending to file for a divorce.

Not knowing where else to go, Joan returns to Vegas, where she is hired by Corrigan to front a horse-racing operation. But she double-crosses his partners just to cash in on a long-shot bet. On her own again, Joan descends into a world of disreputable characters, partnering in Shreveport with a crooked gambler named Frenchy.

By the time David rejoins her after the beating, Joan is hospitalized and suicidal. He must fight to convince her that it is not too late to kick her gambling habit and save their marriage.



The Lady Gambles is Tony Curtis's third film, in a bit part lasting less than 10 seconds on screen. He has four lines.[1]


  1. DVD soundtrack.
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