As any real sports fan will tell you, getting the action right on screen is not easy. Just ask any football lover who has watched Pelé and Bobby Moore star in the 1981 turkey Escape to Victory or any American football fan who sat through Adam Sandler in The Waterboy.
Even if the story is good, depicting the action accurately is an incredibly difficult skill to pull off for a director. But what about casino films? Is it a similar story, or can the action be incorporated in a realistic, exciting and plot-enhancing way?
Well, it’s hit and miss to say the least. For every great gambling movie, there are a couple of real stinkers that play fast and loose with the rules of the games (we’re looking at you here National Lampoons Vegas Vacation and Burt Reynolds in Deal). But when the writers and directors actually have a decent understanding of how the games work and how this can be used to ratchet up the tension, casinos can actually make a great setting for a film.
With that in mind, here are five of the best films featuring casinos that made it to the silver screen.
Directed by the maestro Martin Scorsese and featuring blistering performances by Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, this gangster fable is set in and around a casino. Obviously, the game play itself takes a bit of a back seat to the ruthless ambition and seedy lifestyles that drive the narrative, but it’s a pretty realistic depiction of a certain kind of casino environment that used to exist back in the day.
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, this twist-filled classic revolves around the underground world of betting and casino gaming during the 1930s. It’s hard to say if the depiction of ’30s grafter life is accurate, but the film looks great, and sounds great too thanks to a number of Scott Joplin rags.
A remake of a 1960s classic starring Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, this time round it featured megastars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, as well as a number of Hollywood’s best character actors. The tension never drops and this adrenaline fuelled heist movie really captures the excitement of a casino atmosphere. Later in Ocean’s Thirteen there is a move to focus on high roll game play, Visit Casinopedia.org for winning Roulette strategies they explain all you need to know.
Based on the true story of a team of hyper-smart MIT students who figure out a way to beat the system by counting cards. They move to Vegas to put their theory to the test, but as you might have guessed, the casino bosses aren’t particularly thrilled about this group of precocious youngsters who seem to have worked out a cheat to beat the house. Ok, so the movie plays a little fast and loose with the details of card counting to move the plot along, but this more or less happened in real life.
Matt Damon’s career has had its ups and downs, but fans will tell you that this drama about a reformed gambler who returns to the table to help a friend pay off a loan is one of his best. The game features heavily in the movie and in general, it’s a pretty skilled handling of the nuances of poker.
Special mentions also go out to A Big Hand for the Little Lady as well as Maverick and Owning Mahowny which also manage to capture the fun and excitement of being around the table whilst maintaining a narrative and character development. If only that were so for all casino movies (and for all sports movies in general).Powered by Sidelines