5 of the best Las Vegas themed movies

Posted Filed under

Viva Las Vegas!

The city where dreams burn as bright as the lightbulbs on the The Strip and there’s a possible fortune, or at the very least a very generous buffet, around every corner. No wonder it attracts the eager and the daring in their droves.

And it’s also attracted the eye of many a movie-maker. ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, goes the old motto – although you can also find out how to host a casino night at home here.

But sometimes what happens in Vegas makes it to the big screen. So here are five of the best Las Vegas themed movies…


Diamonds are Forever

Friend of the croupier from Monte Carlo to Cairo, James Bond is as at home in a casino as he is in someone else’s bed, so he was bound to end up in Vegas eventually. Amazingly it wasn’t until his seventh outing in Diamonds are Forever that he landed in the gambling capital of the world, gambling with his own life. And probably some money from HM Treasury.

Bond wins big on the craps, enjoys a dangerous paramount view of The Strip from a precarious position atop Willard Whyte’s casino, The Whyte House, and even takes a spin in a death-defying, and physics-defying, car chase through Vegas’ streets. Only in Vegas could you defy the odds so brazenly as Bond does.


Ocean’s 11

Back in the 1960s The Rat Pack ruled large over Las Vegas’ entertainment scene, playing sell-out gigs all along The Strip; most famously at the legendary Sands Hotel. To this day Sinatra & Co are synonymous with the heady glamour, cocktail vapours, and bright lights of Vegas.

That’s probably in part down to Ocean’s 11, the 1960 film featuring the five main players of the Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford – playing WW2 veterans planning to rob five casinos on a single night: New Year’s Eve.

It’s a stylish, swaggering romp that’s far cooler than its 2001 remake, and a great look back at how Vegas and its most famous casinos used to be – and just how far it’s all come in the past 55 years.


The Hangover

Chances are that if you go to Las Vegas you won’t wake up one morning to find a tiger in your bathroom. But then you probably won’t have been part of the stag party from hell, as handsome Bradley Cooper and his incrementally less handsome friends are in 2009’s The Hangover.

Waking up from a night of debauchery so profound as to require dental work, childcare, and plenty of hungover detective work across Las Vegas, they soon discover that they’ve had the sort of night you wouldn’t normally get in, say, Skegness. Because Skegness doesn’t have any tigers, silly.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Making The Hangover look like a tea party, Terry Gilliam’s avant-garde adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel is the already intoxicating landscape of 60’s Las Vegas viewed through a lurid, mind-altering haze of narcotics.

More mescaline than man, and tripping on an alphabet of illegal drugs, Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp back when he wasn’t a notorious pirate/dog smuggler) hallucinates moray eels at reception and carpets that shift and bleed goop. Not the ideal casino environment. And if you’re going to play Big Six like Raoul, don’t huff diethyl ether beforehand. Or ever, in fact.



Featuring the f-word a whopping 435 times in its 2 hour 58 minute run time (and we’re not talking about ‘fold’, gambling fans), Martin Scorcese’s 1995 film Casino pays out big on the swears as well as some excellent drama.

Robert De Niro is the Mafia sports handicapper Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, who can control the casino profits but not the people around him, especially his gold-digging wife (Sharon Stone) or his crazy ‘caproregime’ Nicky (Joe Pesci).

Ace is an operator in a Las Vegas that Scorcese depicts as a beautiful but cruel mistress of fortune; a place that can, and will make or break you at a moment’s notice, and which Ace finds himself increasingly at odds at. It’s a much underrated performance from De Niro, and a must watch if you’ve never seen it.


What’s your favourite movie set in Las Vegas? Let us know below…

> Follow Rob Smedley on Twitter.