The glamour, pomp and splendour of casinos have attracted top-notch Hollywood and international directors time and again, inspiring them to either locate or base their movies on the world of gambling. And, why not? Casinos elude a sense of power and prestige that is synonymous with the classic movie hero.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 cult movies that have used the backdrop of a casino to paint a picture larger than life:
Let’s begin with what is considered to be the Godfather of casino movies- the 1960 mega-hit, Ocean’s 11, starring legendary Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Angie Dickinson. The film is considered a pioneering attempt at allowing gambling, a sport that was, at the time, considered seedy, unrefined and criminal, to go mainstream into the limelight. It even inspired the beloved Ocean’s series that would be released years later.
Although a heist movie that depicted the leads robbing one casino after the other, it only went to show the money that could be made in a respectable manner through gambling. It was also one of the first of its kind to get the public, especially the youngsters, doubting whether all that they had considered immoral, like gambling and robbery, was, in fact, quite daring.
James Bond- a name that inspires chivalry, smoothness, strength and wealth- all in the same breath! The 2006 instalment to the critically acclaimed and well-loved Bond movie series saw Daniel Craig portray the MI6 spy with ease, making it the highest-grossing film in the franchise until Skyfall was released 6 years later. While almost every movie in the series is capable of making their viewers lust after the life onscreen, Casino Royale bears special mention as the plot was interwoven with the glitz of the gambling world.
The movie had every element depicting the high-end casino lifestyle, including straight flushes, high stakes tournaments, exotic locations like Montenegro, and million-dollar buy-ins. The exclusive world of sophisticated gamblers motivated gambling enthusiasts across the globe to brush up on their skills and play the game like Craig’s enactment of James Bond.
The movie that was credited with making casino-cinema popular, 21 was based on a best-selling book that detailed the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team. One of the leading reasons why this film continues to enjoy such a prominent fan base, even a decade later, is the fact that it employed young actors, and thus, encouraged college students and high school graduates to explore their options in ethical gambling.
The movie followed the misadventures of the team as they continued to reign supreme across some of the biggest Blackjack tournaments, using nothing but mathematical equations. It spread the message that as long as you can formulate common patterns and combinations (read some of the best gambling books), have sufficient free spins (try out one of the best free spins no deposit UK casinos), you can defeat some of the toughest hands. It also depicted the advantages of sticking to ethical routes of gambling and established casinos.
Put Ryan Reynold’s superior talents as an actor and a well-scripted plot regarding a gambling underdog making it big, and what do you have? A blockbuster. Mississippi Grind touched the hearts of millions of gamblers, with its depiction of two dynamic characters, each with their own history and set of skills. While Reynolds’ Curtis represents the young and lucky gambler, blessed with a smart personality and a good set of brains, Mendelsohn’s Gerry exemplifies the older, out-of-luck, impulsive better, who never quite knows when to fold.
Directors Boden and Fleck masterfully capture the shades of grey that are a part and parcel of every gambler’s life. What is truly beautiful about this movie is the message that it sends to frustrated players, to play only if it feels good and to accept the highs and the lows with equal grace.
Last, but not the least, the 1995 Scorsese movie, starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci, Casino, without which this list would be incomplete. The movie was based on a book that was, in turn, inspired by the life of gambling handicapper, Sam “Ace” Rothstein, and his involvement with violent gambling outfits, mobs and a life of crime.
Although the film received significant backlash for its scenes of graphic violence, movie enthusiasts pointed out that it was only a realistic portrayal of what goes on in underground gambling circles and how it survives parallel with organized crime.
Veteran gamblers and seasoned professionals supported the movie as they opined that it would go a long way in dissuading younger gamblers from getting overly ambitious and venturing beyond law-abiding gambling circuits. It was shot at the Riviera casino premises in Las Vegas.
A good movie can empower you to achieve a lot in life. Watch a movie set in a casino to motivate yourself to be a boss and make your own future.