Gambling has always been a fun topic for budding movie producers looking to put out exciting “gangster, guns and money”-themed movies.
From the popular early titles like The Cincinnati Kid and The Gambler to more modern takes like Croupier and 21, gambling films have always made for entertaining viewing.
Nowadays, traditional Vegas casinos are seeing far less foot traffic as more and more players go online to find popular casino sites for US-based players.
However, the legend of Vegas lives on and continues to inspire movies from Hollywood and beyond.
Here are five classic movies that explore the exciting underbelly of gambling in America.
William H. Macy plays down-on-his-luck gambler Bernie Lootz in this film version of the Wayne Kramer and Frank Hannah script.
Alec Baldwin pulls off a believable casino boss, Shelly Kaplow, to whom Lootz owes money.
Enter cocktail waitress Natalie Belisario, played by the beautiful Maria Bello, who takes an odd interest in Lootz.
The main roles are supported by a host of classic Italian gangster characters like Nicky Fingers (Authur Nascarella) and Johnny Capella (Joey Fatone).
It makes for a highly entertaining Vegas romp.
Film critic Roger Ebert called it “A movie without gimmicks, hooks or flashy slickness. The acting is on the money.”
Watch The Cooler on Amazon Prime Video.
Hard Eight is one of the lesser-known films from Director Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood).
The 1996 film chronicles the experiences of Sydney, an old gambler who teaches a young man how to hustle casinos.
While Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow give stellar supporting performances, the real shine comes from Philip Baker Hall’s portrayal of the main character and his interactions with the luckless John Finnegan (John C. Reilly).
In typically dramatic fashion, the plot unravels to reveal shocking secrets and back-stabbing characters that keep the thrills in high supply.
Stephen Holden of the New York Times called the moody acting “wonderfully understated, economical and unsentimental”.
Watch Hard Eight on NowTV right now.
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This poker film, written and directed by Stuart Townsend, follows the story of three hustlers who come up with a plan to take on a mob-run underground poker game.
Two hustlers, Charlie (Gabriel Byrne) and Tiffany (Thandie Newton) meet up with Larry Jennings (Jamie Foxx) to work on a scam with a Las Vegas blackjack dealer.
However, as is common in casino movies, things get complicated and mobsters get involved.
The story follows con after con as each character tries to outsmart the other.
The fast-paced and clever movie ends with an unexpected twist in typical Hollywood fashion.
You can watch Shade on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
This classic black comedy based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson features Johnny Depp in one of his most quintessential roles.
While the movie doesn’t follow a dedicated casino or gambling based theme, it features some of the most entertaining Las Vegas scenes on film.
Loosely based on Thompson’s real-life experiences as a young journalist in the early ’70s, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a drug-fuelled, rip-roaring ride of pure American excess.
Definitely worth the watch to see a different side of Vegas and get a taste for Thompson’s bizarre perspective on life.
You can watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Google Play right now.
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This relatively new gambling film from Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck features Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, and Sienna Miller.
The movie benefits from an intoxicating Southern atmosphere mixed with the excitement of a road movie.
It tracks gamblers, Gerry and Curtis, on a trip down the Mississippi River.
The writers manage to put a fresh spin on the gambling habit theme.
It ends in a classic high-stakes poker game in New Orleans.
It’s a nice change from the common “Vegas gangster” theme that makes up the majority of casino films.
You can watch Mississippi Grind on Netflix now.
What do you make of this list of gambling movies?
Are there any gambling movies on this list that you are going to watch whilst in quarantine?
Let us know in the comments below.
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