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Gambling Movies

You might be surprised to know just how many movies have been made that are either set in Las Vegas, in a casino, or revolve around casino gambling activities. We won't go so far to give you an exact number of studio produced casino movies, but we can say there are approximately one-hundred plus great flicks - old and new. Keep in mind, we are talking about casino movies for entertainment - Not instructional videos on how to win money inside the casinos. We'll leave that to the pros, not to mention the game-specific strategy articles shared here at OCS.

If you are fan of gambling and have spent any length of time inside a casino, you will understand the allure and excitement that is perfect for drama and entertainment on the big screen. That said, we present the following movie summaries of some great gambling flicks that may just get you to appreciate your casino gambling activities even more. All of the casino movies featured below are available online or at a video rental store, and might even be attainable in your local library. We just want to share with you our own passion for casino movies, and hope to introduce you to some that you've never heard of or seen before! Here's our top picks:

"The Hangover" (2009) is one of the funniest movies ever set in Las Vegas to date. Showcasing everything that is quintessential Vegas, from the casinos on the Strip to the strippers in the club, "The Hangover" follows a group of middle age men as they deal with the many repercussions of one crazy night on the town. There is some great, raw footage of modern day Las Vegas in this flick, including Las Vegas Boulevard and in and out of Caesar's Palace. There is even a scene recreating the blackjack action in the film, "Rain Man". The film was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, directed by Todd Phillips, and stars the very funny Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and Ed Helms from The Office television series. The Hangover was wildly successful at the box office, pulling in over $45 million its opening weekend.

"Deal" (2008) is another poker movie to come out on the crest of the worldwide poker wave. It stars Burt Reynolds as an ex-gambler who takes a young hotshot rookie poker player (Bret Harrison) under his wing (agreeing to pay his buy-ins) only to find himself back in the game and facing off against his protege in a head's up match at the World Series of Poker Championship when their relationship sours. Poker pro and actress, Shannon Elizabeth, also stars in this flick, giving the element of a "love interest". Slightly formulaic in terms of a plotted movie catering to the young generation of twenty-something male online poker players, "Deal" does a fair job contrasting this generation with the poker pros of the past, represented by Reynolds.

"21" (2008) has enjoyed a huge success at the box offices. Raking in nearly $24 million on opening weekend in the U.S., there's no doubt that blackjack can bring in the crowds. Or perhaps it's Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess, who star in this true-story flick about the MIT math team who devised the card-counting technique as we know it today and took their amazing skills on the road to rack up unprecedented winnings at the casino blackjack tables. This movie won't teach you how to count cards, which casinos have mitigated the effects of anyways, but it gives a fascinating and exciting insight into blackjack...err...21.

Lucky You (2007) was hyped up before its release as being the first movie that really explores the life of a professional poker player (Eric Bana). Although it got mixed reviews, some pointing to a lack of story between Bana's and Drew Barrymore's characters, it does indeed shed light on the professional poker circuit. There are several cameos by poker pros, including Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Jack Binion.

Casino Royale (2006) stars Daniel Craig as James Bond and is directed by Martin Campbell. Much of the hype that came from the fact that Craig was the first blonde James Bond. Not only did Craig pull off being blonde and sexy, he pulled off some great poker playing to oust an evil banker trying to use the poker tournament to fund terrorism. A great Bond and casino movie. The stakes don't get higher at the Baccarat table in Casino Royale.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) is the must-sequel to the wildly popular flick, Miss Congeniality. Starring the beautiful, funny and charming Sandra Bullock, Miss Congeniality 2 picks up on the exploits of FBI agent Gracie Hart (played by Bullock), who is now the "face of the FBI". But when her friends get kidnapped in Las Vegas, Gracie has no choice but to start her own investigation. There is some great footage of McCarren International Airport and The Strip, including the Venetian hotel, and a climactic scene on the pirate ship set of Treasure Island Resort and Casino. If you are really into your Vegas Strip geography, according to iMDB, in the scene where Bullock is arriving at the Venetian, they are travelling south (by virtue of the M&M and Coca Cola signs on the other side of the street. However, on another cut in the scene they are apparently travelling north! Oiiii! No worries though - Miss Congeniality 2 was enormously successful at the box offices, bringing wordwide gross revenue of over $101 million thus far, and made on a budget of $45 million. John Pasquin directs, Peter Menzie Jr. was DP and writing credits go out to Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford and Caryn Lucas.

Oceans Eleven (2001) is a remake of the original 1960 flick, but with some more star power. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Oceans Eleven stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and a host of other recognizable actors. A hit at the box offices, Oceans Eleven unfolds as a team of robbers pull a hit on the vault shared by the Mirage, MGM and Bellagio Casino's.

Rounders (1998) is a great flick about the underground poker circuit. Although it had modest success at the the box offices, when the popularity of online poker took off, Rounders became a cult hit with poker players. It's directed by John Dahl and stars Edward Norton and Matt Damon. If you've every wondered what it was like in the underground, illegal poker rooms, where yes, you could get killed by the Russian mafia, this offers a great view.

Casino (1996) offers the closest account to the underworld of Las Vegas in the late seventies as you can get. Recounting real events that went down at the now demolished Stardust Casino, this flick sheds insight into how mob bosses, specifically the Chicago Outfit, were able to infiltrate Las Vegas. The film itself is of the highest caliber. I mean, for one, its directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. Scorsese nabbed a Golden Globe nomination, while Stone won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and earned an Academy Award nomination.

Showgirls (1995) is one of those films that you might just want to watch so that you can say you watched it. In other words, it may not be the best film in the world, but then again, it's all in how you approach watching this Vegas-esque flick. First off, there's no gambling; However, there is plenty of showgirl dancing on the Strip, which is totally Vegas. Although it may come across as a drama at times (it's actually classified as a drama), Showgirls has a campy, funny quality to it. In fact, the infamous pool sex scene has been classified as one of the worst/funniest sex scenes of all time. Now, I'm not going to lie. Being a heterosexual male, it was hard not to be turned on by the beautiful Elizabeth Berkeley, who in many respects, is a fine actress. You might remember her as the tall bombshell in the hit morning teen show, "Saved by the Bell". All in all, you'll probably either love or hate this flick.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995) is definitely set in Las Vegas. Not only is it one of the best Vegas films ever made, it is one of the best films ever made period. Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actor (for which Nicholas Cage won), Best Actress (the adorable Elisabeth Shue), Best Screenplay and Best Director (Mike Figgis), Leaving Las Vegas will no doubt make you laugh, make you cry, and give you a raw look at Las Vegas. You'll also get to see Nick Cage do some gambling and nearly drink himself to death in what amounts to a truly magnificent performance. Leaving Las Vegas is a romance, comedy and drama, although it definitely leans more toward a melancholic side. But there is heart all the way through.

Bugsy (1991) is Warren Beatty at his best. This flick is quintessential Vegas, and high-stakes gambling at that. Tracking the very beginnings of organized crime in the Vegas gambling scene, Bugsy is about a guy...err criminal... with a dream. There is plenty of drama in this one, as well as several star name actors, including Harvey Keitel, Annette Bening, Elliot Gould and Ben Kingsley. Bugsy was directed by the accomplished Barry Levinson and produced by TriStar Pictures. To date, the film has grossed approximately $50 million (made on an estimated budget of $40 million).

Rain Man (1988) isn't about gambling per say. However, one of the most famous movie scenes ever shot at a Blackjack table is in the movie "Rain Man", starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, who won an academy award for his transforming performance. If you ever wanted to get an idea about how card counting works, this a great movie to watch.


Gambling Movie News

11-20-09 - No Vegas Strip in Sandra Bullock's New Film
06-18-09 - DiCaprio and Costa Rica Spells Online Casino Flick

06-11-09 - The Hangover is Gambling Movie for the Funny at Heart
02-06-09 - Nobody Knows Card Counting Like the Rain Man
12-20-08 - "Casino" to air on American Movie Classics
04-14-08 -
Casino Poker Movie "Deal" May Need a New Hand

 

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