We all know that the best movies involve facets like danger, risk and trepidation. So, it’s hardly surprising that the world of Hollywood is keen to use the casino as a backdrop for a wide genre of films. Traditionally seen as a place popular with gangs, the rich and powerful and the fiscally desperate looking to make a quick buck – the scope for drama is significant.
The popularity of the casino trope in films shows no signs of abating – appearing as popular today as they always have. That is, despite the fact that the gambling industry and casinos, in particular, Las Vegas, have cleaned up their act in recent decades with violence significantly decreasing, though there has been a recent spike.
Taking a gamble doesn’t always pay off in Hollywood and films aren’t always a financial success though. Despite films like Casino Royale and the Oceans franchise taking large global grossing’s, less popular offerings such as Rounders have barely broken even. Commercial success or not, casino films have gone on to be cult classics – with many taking their place in the esteemed film repertoire. Here are a few of our favourites:
This Martin Scorsese crime-drama tells the story of Sam “Ace” Rothstein, recruited by a gang of Italian gangsters to run a casino in Las Vegas. After some initial success as a real highroller in Casino, his contemporaries and ex-hustler wife being to cause problems, eventually forcing Sam into precarious and dangerous situations. While initially receiving some criticism for its violent content – the film has latterly gleaned significant acclaim for its artistic approach to the subject matter.
After losing all his money in a poker game, Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) promises his girlfriend that he’ll leave the gambling world behind to focus on law school. Life appears to be going smoothly for McDermott until his old-time friend finds himself in dire financial circumstances. In a bid for the success, he agrees to an all or nothing game of Texas Hold Em with a shady Russian gambler. But will his gamble pay off? The 1998 film also stars John Malkovich, Edward Norton and Martin Landau.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
This timeless story of friendship and adventure has gained cult status since its release back in 1998. It charts the story of sports writer Duke and his lawyer as they take a road trip to the gambling mecca of the world and experiment with a cacophony of drugs along the way. Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando were initially considered for the lead roles, but the lengthy development process meant they were too old by the time it was eventually made.
This highly-rated feature in the Bond franchise sees the British spy infiltrates the world of gambling where terrorists are looking to win big money to fund terrorist activity. Casino Royale was the first outing for Daniel Craig as 007 and many consider it one of the best ever. The film earned a staggering $599 million at the global box office – only surpassed by Skyfall also starring Craig. It was, in fact, the second Bond of this name. The first being released in 1967 with the recent offering getting a much more favorable reception.
This neo-noir crime thriller charts the story of an aging gambler who takes a young, down and out under his wing. Sydney teaches John the secrets of the dark world of gambling. Circumstances begin to unravel when John and his prostitute girlfriend find themselves enabling a hostage situation. A web of lies and deceit are revealed as Sydney’s generosity to his protégée is shown to be motivated by a dark secret.
The Hangover is a rare smash hit in the world of casino comedies. When a stag party goes to Vegas and spends the night taking advantage of the free drinks at Caesars Palace – the hangovers the next day prove to be more than problematic. With a missing groom, a seemingly additional tooth and a night of blank memories, the films document the hilarious events of what happens on a boy’s weekend in the world’s most infamous casino destination.
George Clooney stars as the main man in this gripping crime-thriller. After being released from prison, Danny Ocean instantaneously returns to a life of crime along with his up for anything buddies. A troublesome heist ensues but does Danny get away with the crime? Well, we all know there in an Ocean’s 12 which should give us some idea about the outcome.