Casinos are places full of drama. From huge wins to tumultuous lows, you’re sure to experience a range of emotions in their betting halls and around the tables.
Unsurprisingly, this drama has appealed to Hollywood and production companies across the globe. Over the years, scores of casino films have made it onto the silver screen and many of them have become cult favorites.
In this guide, we look at five particularly underrated films about casinos. Among these, you’re sure to find something new and exciting to watch.
California Split hit the big screen back in 1974 and is regarded as one of director Robert Altman’s greatest films.
While the film is mostly set in casinos, the story is more about the friendship between two characters who meet at a roulette table. It shows an interesting side to the gambling world – a more social side where people can meet and become friends, something you typically wouldn’t get in the likes of a top online casino nowadays.
Bill, played by George Segal, meets Charlie (played by Elliot Gould) at a casino when another player accuses them of working together to fix a game of roulette. It sparks a friendship driven by a keen shared interest in casino games.
The story follows the developing relationship between the two as they decide to pay a visit to Reno for a high-stakes trip to a number of casinos. The story is simple but the depth of the characters is impressive, to say the least.
Hard Eight hit the silver screen in 1996 and marked director Paul Thomas Anderson’s debut film. He went on to make greats such as Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, but it’s this film that often gets overlooked.
Again, this film is much more about characters than casinos, but the glittering lights of Las Vegas serve as an important setting.
The story follows a young drifter named John, played by John C. Reilly. He meets an experienced gambler named Sydney (played by Phillip Baker Hall) at a diner one day. John ends up becoming Sydney’s protege and the pair head to Vegas.
However, things don’t pan out well for John, who slips into a life of crime. With some memorable scenes at the roulette table featuring some high-profile cameo appearances, this is a film that casino lovers shouldn’t skip.
Starring Susan Sarandon and directed by Louis Malle, the 1980 casino film Atlantic City captured hearts and minds at the time, so much so that it went on to receive a Best Picture nomination. However, it has since fallen out of popular debate, perhaps unjustifiably so.
Sarandon plays a character named Sally, who works as a waitress in New Jersey. Set in the period immediately after gambling was legalized in the state, Sally has aspirations to become a blackjack dealer.
However, life isn’t all rosy for Sally. Her estranged husband’s criminal enterprise throws a spanner in the works and threatens her hopes and dreams.
Given that it was nominated for a Best Picture award, Atlantic City is certainly a film worth checking out and one that has maintained a cult following akin to the Fast and Furious franchise.
Croupier is a British film that isn’t very well known around the world but gained something of a cult following in the US.
In fact, some people even deemed it worthy of an Oscar nomination, but it was disqualified from consideration because it was released directly on TV in the Netherlands.
Croupier stars a young Clive Owen, who wowed audiences with his breakthrough role. Playing a poor writer, Owen takes a job as a croupier in a local casino to earn a living. However, the film feels more like a dark detective story than anything else.
If you like serious films set in casinos, then check out Croupier.
Although Lucky You turned out to be a bit of a box office flop, it’s still regarded as an underrated casino film to watch, especially if you enjoy poker.
Starring Eric Bana and Robert Duvall, and directed by the acclaimed Curtis Hanson, the movie tells the story of a top professional poker player and his father – who is even better at the card game.
Bana and Duvall, unsurprisingly, have a complicated father-son relationship that drives the story, with Bana fighting to step out of his dad’s shadow.
Lucky You is definitely a film to watch if you’re looking for a classic storyline.