The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw Cast Reunion

“The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” is a Western television movie that premiered in 1991, serving as a continuation of the popular “The Gambler” film series headlined by Grammy Award-winning singer Kenny Rogers. Set against the backdrop of the Old West, this film brings to life the iconic character of Brady Hawkes, played by Rogers himself. The film’s allure is bolstered by the inclusion of other notable television Western characters, making it an homage to the genre as well as a standalone adventure.

Joining Kenny Rogers is Reba McEntire portraying Burgundy Jones, adding her distinctive presence and star power to the narrative. The cast ensemble reflects a commitment to capturing the spirit of Western dramas, enhanced by the presence of actors known for their work in classic television Westerns. Directed by Dick Lowry and written by a team including Jim Byrnes and Cort Casady, the production’s talent extends from actors to the creative crew, ensuring authenticity and entertainment for fans of the genre.

The film not only nods to the legacy of “The Gambler” series but also acknowledges the broader landscape of television Westerns. It captures the essence of camaraderie and rivalry across dusty towns and high-stakes poker games, framing a story that appeals both to long-time aficionados of Westerns and a new generation discovering the charm of the Old West through the lens of seasoned gamblers and steadfast gunslingers.

Overview of ‘The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw’

This section delves into the movie ‘The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw,’ touching on the narrative elements that intertwine the adventure of a legendary gambler with a historical Western backdrop during the waning days of the lawless poker game era.

Plot Synopsis

The film’s premise revolves around an era when gambling is on the cusp of being outlawed across the United States. In the midst of this societal shift, a farewell poker game of great significance is orchestrated in San Francisco. Brady Hawkes, the revered protagonist known as “The Gambler,” is drawn into this high-stakes adventure by Burgundy Jones, a former madame. As they navigate this final gambling event, they encounter various challenges, including conflicts with notorious outlaws that underscore the Western genre’s classic themes of risk and redemption.

Cast and Characters

A gambler triumphantly reveals a winning hand of cards, surrounded by a diverse group of onlookers

The TV movie “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” features an ensemble cast including Kenny Rogers and Reba McEntire. The storyline weaves fictional characters with legendary figures from the Old West.

Lead Actors

  • Kenny Rogers as Brady Hawkes: Rogers reprises his iconic role as the seasoned gambler on his way to a historic poker game
  • Reba McEntire as Burgundy Jones: The multitalented McEntire adds charm as a madame who aids Hawkes in his quest

Supporting Cast

  • Rick Rossovich portrayed Ethan Cassidy, accompanying Hawkes on the journey
  • Claude Akins appeared as former president Theodore Roosevelt, adding a historical dimension to the film
  • Melody O’Rourke, played by Park Overall, provides additional support to the storyline

Historical Figures

  • Hugh O’Brian depicted Wyatt Earp, a legendary lawman known for his Old West escapades
  • Chuck Connors took on the role of The Rifleman with Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain
  • Mentions of other historical figures and iconic characters from Western lore, such as Bat Masterson, The Westerner, and Cheyenne Bodie give the film authentic flavor

This movie brought together fiction and historic legend, by blending a star-studded cast with a spirited plot set in America’s frontier days.

Production Team

The production of “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” is supported by a team of seasoned professionals in the television and film industry. Each played a distinctive role in bringing the movie to audiences.


Dick Lowry helmed the project as the director, bringing his vision and expertise to the western drama.


The screenplay was a collaborative effort that included Jim Byrnes, Cort Casady, and Kelly Junkerman. Their storytelling was crucial in developing the narrative of the movie.

Art Department

The visual appeal of the film was crafted under the art department, with key contributions for set design and decoration to evoke the authentic feel of the period setting.

Music and Sound

The ambient and thematic music essential to the film was composed by Mark Snow. His compositions played a significant role in shaping the film’s auditory experience, complementing the onscreen drama.

Cameos and Historical References

“The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” reaches into the rich tapestry of Western folklore, bringing to life many characters from America’s frontier past. The film features cameos from well-known figures of the Old West along with appearances by iconic Western heroes from classic television series.

Famous Outlaws

In this TV movie, characters that were either real-life outlaws or inspired by such figures are woven into the narrative. Teddy Roosevelt, though not an outlaw but a historical figure, is prominently featured, providing a direct link to the historical context of the era.


The film pays homage to the rugged lawmen of the Old West. Among them, Judge Roy Bean is personified, a figure known for his unique blend of frontier justice as the self-appointed ‘Law West of the Pecos’.

Iconic Western Heroes

The TV movie does not shy away from blending fiction with history by including beloved characters from Western television shows. Hugh O’Brian reprises his role as Wyatt Earp, and Chuck Connors comes back as The Rifleman, adding a nostalgic touch for fans of classic Westerns. Additionally, Kwai-Chang Caine from “Kung Fu” is referenced, bridging the gap between Eastern martial arts and the Wild West genre.

Critical Reception

The critical reception of “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” showcases a range of perspectives, from initial reviews by critics to the reactions of audiences and coverage by major entertainment media outlets like TV Guide.

Initial Reviews

“The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” received mixed reviews upon its release. Some critics praised the movie for its entertainment value and the performance of Kenny Rogers; others felt it was a predictable addition to the franchise.

TV Guide and Media Coverage

TV Guide provided coverage of the film, noting its appeal to fans of the genre and its attempt to intertwine characters from classic Westerns. Media coverage at the time highlighted the movie’s strengths in casting and the nostalgic value it provided.

Audience Response

Audience response to “The Gambler Returns” was generally positive, with viewers appreciating the return of Kenny Rogers as Brady Hawkes. Fans seemed to enjoy the cameos of famous Western characters and the continuation of the beloved Gambler story line.

Cultural Impact and Legacy

“The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” is a distinct entity in the pantheon of American Westerns, marrying the nostalgia of classic television Westerns with modern storytelling.

Impact on Western Genre

The movie strengthened the Western genre by reconnecting audiences to the charm of traditional Westerns. It honored classic characters by integrating them into its narrative, thereby serving as a bridge between past and present Western storytelling. The film showcased a variety of Western characters, Brady Hawkes being the central figure. These characters underscored the diverse archetypes present within Westerns, from the stalwart hero to the crafty anti-hero.

Character Influence
Brady Hawkes Embodied the quintessential Western gambler with a strong moral compass.
Burgundy Jones Added depth and a new perspective to the genre’s character roster.

By featuring well-known characters from television Westerns, the movie paid homage to the genre’s legacy, reminding viewers of the Western’s foundational place in American entertainment.

Significance in Television History

This movie was significant in television history as it served as an intersection for numerous celebrated TV Western icons. Stars from popular Western series like “Gunsmoke,” “The Rifleman,” and “Bonanza” reprised their roles, hence creating a multi-generational appeal. This crossover event not only appealed to fans of the original series but also introduced new audiences to these iconic characters. It demonstrated the enduring popularity of the Western on television and the impact these characters had on American culture.

The presence of Reba McEntire, recognized for her music career and her lead role in the TV series “Reba,” showcased the versatility and crossover appeal inherent in the genre. It was events like these in television history that reinforced the Western’s adaptability and its ability to draw in viewers beyond its traditional scope.

Written by Alexander

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