When first telecast on April 8, 1980, this made-for-TV movie was titled Kenny Rogers as The Gambler. Jim Byrnes' teleplay is loosely inspired by Rogers' Grammy award-winning song. Rogers plays high-rolling gambler Brady Hawkes, who is en route from El Paso to Yuma to see the son he never knew. Along the way, Hawkes befriends Billy Montana (Bruce Boxleitner), feckless Eastern tinhorn. The twosome comes to the aid of reformed "lady of the evening" Jennie Reed (Lee Purcell), who is pursued by an unprincipled train baron. At the end, Brynes must stand up to his son's cruel stepfather (Clu Gulager). A huge ratings success, The Gambler inspired four sequels over the next two decades.
by Hal Erickson synopsis