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Casinos have offered an exciting and thrilling setting for many truly loved movies. The thrill and high stakes of a room full of risk takers and gamblers is just simply a great place to set up some conflict with big characters, and these films have shown to be super popular with audiences over the years.
Casino Themed Films
Kicking off with a film that deserves a big mention, as you might guess from the name, "Casino" is a crime drama film set around casinos, directed by the one and only Martin Scorsese, and starring the recognisable faces of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone.
In the grit of 1970s and 80s Vegas, we follow the story of Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a Jewish-American sports handicapper who is sent to run the Tangiers Casino for the mafia. With his old friend Nicky Santoro accompanying him, he transforms the casino into an incredibly profitable business. Unfortunately, his massive success is put at risk by his rocky relationship with his ex-prostitute wife, Ginger.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Featuring huge stars like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon, “Ocean’s Eleven” is about a group of thieves who plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time, pulling off one of the largest heists of all time in this film’s universe, and making it possibly one of the most famous franchises out there, dominating the heist genre in our universe.
Casino Royale (2006)
Directed by Martin Campbell and featuring Daniel Craig in his first outing as Bong, this movie is the first in the rebooted efforts of the James Bond franchise and follows the iconic spy as he tries to bankrupt a terrorist financier in a high-stakes poker game. A Bond film like no other, this film has made history with fans of the franchise and is often quoted as being the best 007 film of all time.
“Rounders” takes its audience through the story of a law student and reformed gambler named Mike McDermott. McDermott finds himself drawn back into the world of high-stakes underground poker after his friend Worm is released from prison and needs his help. McDermott uses his hones skill in poker to outwit his opponents and try to win big, in order to try to pay off Worm's debts, and therefore escape trouble with dangerous loan sharks.
The film is a highly acclaimed drama directed by John Dahl, and it stars a young but brilliant Matt Damon, and the talented Edward Norton. Together they produce an exquisite portrayal of the high-stakes world of poker.
Rain Man (1988)
A true gem of 1980’s cinema, "Rain Man" is a drama directed by Barry Levinson, starring Dustin Hoffman and the infamous Tom Cruise.
Levinson takes us through the story of Charlie Babbitt, a self-centred and materialistic car dealer. Babbitt discovers that his estranged father has left his fortune to his autistic older brother, Raymond, and so Charlie sets out on a road trip with Raymond to try to gain control of the inheritance. On their journey, he begins to finally understand and appreciate his brother's unique talents and perspective on the world. The film is a gorgeous exploration of the relationship between two opposing brothers.
Iconic Casino Scenes
Diamonds are Forever
Another Bond mention, in the 1971 addition to the franchise "Diamonds are Forever," the infamous Special Agent 007, James Bond, finds himself deep in the world of high stakes casinos. There are several tense and captivating gambling scenes that add to the excitement of the storyline throughout the film, and Sean Connery's portrayal of Bond fits with this perfectly as he showcases his charming and witty demeanour as he plays out his strategy at the casino table in the opulent Whyte House Mansion Casino.
Some viewers have noted that this contrasts with the current landscape where players can access online casinos for real money, which exude and even elevate the traditional ambiance of gambling establishments in the digital realm. After all, "Diamonds are Forever" not only contributes to the legacy of James Bond as a symbol of sophistication and risk-taking but also serves as a cinematic window into the world of high-stakes gambling in the early 1970s – the world that has been evolving into a more advanced, fast-paced industry.
A true cinematic gem, "Casablanca," starring Hollywood legends Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid, the film continues to hold a special place in the hearts of film enthusiasts due to its complex themes and beautiful old cinematography .
Rick is the owner of a gambling café that hosts a rigged Roulette game, with the wheel often favouring numbers preferred by the croupiers. In one pivotal scene however, Rick sits down next to a nearly broke and pitiful gambler and advises him to bet on number 22 which he knows to be rigged. The man joyfully wins not once but twice on the same number, a life changing win for him and a sacrifice for Rick.
The 1993 classic "Indecent Proposal" is a compelling and dramatic film in which the central characters, David, and Diana, lead successful lives until they are hit by financial hardships due to a recession. To turn their luck around, they decide to try their hand in Las Vegas by placing all their savings on a single Roulette bet.
Unfortunately, their wishes are not granted, and they end up losing everything they had bet at the Roulette table.
In a dramatic turn, a wealthy high roller named Gage offers the couple one million dollars for a chance to spend the night with Diana. After much discussion, they decide to actually accept the proposal, which leads to a following story of unhappiness, insecurity, and resentment.