Casinos and the movies have got a long and well-documenting relationship. Top UK gambling sites will boast plenty of movie-themed slots and games, while the high-drama of casinos has made the perfect setting for movies over the years. The exotic locations, the dramatic spin of the roulette wheel, and the slow turn of a card in poker have made casinos a staple of the movies. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the best casino-themed movies of all time.
It wouldn’t be a very good list of movie-themed casinos without a movie literally called Casino. Martin Scorsese is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. The Academy Award-winning director is responsible for classics like Raging Bull, The Godfather, The Wolf of Wall Street, and, of course, Casino.
By the mid-1990s, Scorsese had found a winning formula. Cast Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci as gangsters and let the money roll in. Ironically, Casino probably follows the tropes of the casino sub-genre the least of any movie on this list. That doesn’t stop it from being an incredible movie. In fact, it is widely considered one of Scorsese and De Niro’s finest works, which is no small achievement.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
While purists may argue the original Ocean’s Eleven is better, there is no denying that the George-Clooney-led 2001 remake was the film that put Danny Ocean and his crew of criminals on the map.
Ocean’s Eleven was a huge hit back in 2001, so much so that it inspired two sequels and an all-female-led spin-off. The assured direction of Steven Soderbergh, combined with the charismatic lead performances of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, makes Ocean’s Eleven one of the best casino movies of all time.
The film focuses on Danny Ocean, played by Clooney, as he puts together a gang of criminals to pull off one final casino heist and ride into the sunset. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as smoothly as expected. Clooney and Co helped bring the casino sub-genre into the 21st Century, and they also laid the groundwork for what a modern-day heist movie should look like.
Rain Man (1988)
Casino movies have often been a hit with critics, with the exciting nature of gambling lending itself well to the silver screen, but few have been as well received as Rain Man. The movie was a commercial and critical success, securing the Best Picture prize at the Academy Awards and taking home around $400m at the box office.
While it would be fair to say that Rain Man is more of a road-trip style movie, many of the biggest moments take place in a casino, and it is these moments that have been iconic over the years. In fact, so much so that Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond has been parodied in The Simpsons, The Hangover, and many other popular movies and TV shows.
Ask any poker player their favourite poker movie and Rounders is almost definitely going to be their answer. The film features a young Matt Damon and Ed Norton as a pair of poker players that need to win a big tournament to pay off their debts.
Regarding gambling stories, the plucky underdogs trying to make it rich to pay off a scheming villain is fairly cliche, but Rounders make it work and then some. The film features a delightfully wicked performance from John Malkovich and is seen as somewhat of a right of passage for poker players around the world.
Casino Royale (2006)
We had to fit at least one James Bond movie onto this list. Casino Royale features plenty of iconic moments, but few have lasted in the memory quite as long as the game of poker between Mads Mikkelson’s Le Chiffre and Daniel Craig’s Bond.
Never has a game of poker felt so high-stakes, and few characters make a casino look as cool as Bond. Mads Mikkelson excels as the film’s villain in what is widely considered one of the greatest Bond movies of all time. Martin Campbell’s direction deserves credit as well, with the director doing an excellent job of capturing the excitement of the poker table.
Ian Flemming, the man who created Bond, was a huge casino lover, and Casino Royale was his debut novel. He wasn’t around to see Casino Royale hit the big screen but you can be sure he would have loved what he would have seen.
A Rich History
This list is just five of the best casino-themed movies of all time. The history of cinema is littered with fantastic casino and gambling-themed films, and we would be here all day trying to list them. The sub-genre is still alive, and well, so you can expect plenty more fantastic casino-themed movies to hit the cinemas.
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