When it comes to niche movies, those based around the casino tend to be pretty good. The heart-in-mouth moments, the big money at stake and the dangerous characters associated with the gambling world make for compelling viewing and above all an exciting storyline.
We’ve compiled a list of some casino classics and what makes them so good, as well as a few interesting facts and figures along the way.
‘Ocean’s 11’ (2001)
Based on the 60s classic, the Steven Soderbergh remake starring an ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Andy Garcia is a true tribute to Las Vegas. With a fast-paced plot involving a trio of casino heists, the twists and turns are what make Ocean’s 11 a must-see for any casino fan. Apart from the witty dialogue and action, the sets and filing locations alone are enough to give viewers some brilliant views from some of the most famous spots in Las Vegas. Interestingly, George Clooney took advantage of the Las Vegas filming after hours to hit the casino himself, losing an incredible 25 games of blackjack in a row. Clooney had better luck with his paycheck; he received $20,000,000 for his role in the film, it was justified due to the success the film had at the box office. Ocean’s Eleven raked in a staggering $450,728,529 at the worldwide box office.
‘Rain Man’ (1988)
A comedy with some tragic elements, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman’s incredible performances bring the story of two brothers heading to the Las Vegas to count cards using Raymond’s (Hoffman) severe Savant Syndrome. The sheer quality of acting brings this story to life, but it’s the bittersweet ending following some pretty epic nail-biting gambling scenes that make the movie. Although Rainman was a total success, with Hoffman picking up an academy award, both actors didn’t feel things were going well and jokingly referred to the movie as ‘two schmucks in a car’ during filming. This classic has grossed $354,825,435 worldwide since its production back in 1988.
‘The Cincinnati Kid’ (1965)
Setting a precedent for the poker movie, this classic puts Steve McQueen at the forefront of a series of exciting poker games. The poker scenes are top notch, and the whole movie has a decidedly retro feel, taking place during the depression. Many films have attempted to re-create this retro feel, in fact, it doesn’t stop there, even online casinos are getting in on the act. Films like the Cincinnati Kid influence websites, 1950s Las Vegas was a particularly famous era and one that many are keen to imitate; it is done particularly effectively at 777 casino. So it appears that the setting of the film and style of its main star, Steve McQueen, will last through the ages. The movie is famously set in Louisiana, the birthplace of poker, however, the book it is based on was set in St Louis, Missouri.
Martin Scorcese’s return to the criminal underworld is also one of the best casino movies out there. Set in the 1970s and 80s Las Vegas, the epic drama follows Handicapper Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein and his mob associate Nicky Santoro in a roller-coaster ride from success to abject failure. Amongst the violence and gripping storylines that Scorcese is famous for, there are some amazing casino scenes, including insight into cheating and the consequences as well as what money and greed can do to the residents of Sin City. The film was very well received and has grossed $116,112,375 worldwide. One of the film’s stars, James Woods, is actually a pro poker player away from the screen and still takes part in regular poker tournaments across the world.
Even though these classics won’t be toppled anytime soon, the good news is that there some more casino movies in the pipeline. The Ocean’s series will get a reboot in 2018, with an all-female cast picking up the reigns and Anne Hathaway already cast as the sister of Danny Ocean. In the meantime, why not try your hand at a few games to get you in the mood for the next big release?