TWO-DOLLAR BETTOR (aka: Beginner’s Luck)

(director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: William Raynor; cinematographer: Charles Van Enger; editor: Sherman Rose; music: Irving Gertz; cast: Steve Brodie (Rick Bowers, alias Rick Slate), Marie Windsor (Mary Slate), John Litel (John Hewitt alias John Ramsey), Barbara Logan (Nancy Hewitt), Robert Sherwood (Phillip Adams), Barbara Bestar (Diane ‘Dee’ Hewitt), Don Shelton (George), Walter Kingsford (Carleton P. Adams); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward L. Cahn; Alpha Video; 1951)

“A classic exploitation film from the 1950s.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Edward L. Cahn (“Prejudice”/”Runaway Daughters”/”Experiment Alcatraz “) directs this low-budget moralistic minor film noir, that was shot in ten days. It’s a classic exploitation film from the 1950s that reflects on the deep problems of compulsive gamblers, showing how far from grace they can fall.

John Litel plays John Hewitt, a respectable widower from the midwest with two teenage daughters, Nancy and Dee, he dearly loves. The straight-laced John goes for the first time to the Langsford’s Grandview Racetrack with friends and gets bitten with the racing bug when he wins a two-dollar bet. His road to deprivation comes to fruition when he gets a bookie and becomes known as JH. At first he wins by betting on a jockey his brother-in-law George turned him onto, but he soon finds himself in a deep hole as he loses his nest-egg betting long shots. Viewed as a sucker, grifter femme fatale Mary Slate (Marie Windsor), the bookies go-between, offers him phony solace and teams up with her ex-con hubby Rick (Steve Brodie) to set him up for a big fall with a betting sting. The honest bank comptroller starts to embezzle bank funds in an attempt to recoup his losses. This leads to further tragedy, as told in the film’s tagline: “I bet! I Stole! I killed!”

Two Dollar Bettor Poster