The glamour and allure of casinos (and in particular those of Las Vegas) make them a particularly good fit for Hollywood – whether it be crime, intrigue or simply pure excess, they make the perfect backdrop.
Here are five of the best – be warned, spoilers for all these movies will follow.
A well run casino can be a profitable enterprise, but beneath the style and showmanship of the Tangiers Casino in Martin Scorsese’s Casino lies a criminal underworld, embroiled in power struggles and petty infighting that threaten to bring the casino empire to its knees. They say that the house always wins, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t end up defeating itself. Interestingly, the film also comfortably ranks along the top five films that use the f-word most often, with nearly 400 instances of the word.
Ocean’s Eleven (1960/2001)
Whether it be the 1960 rat-pack original or the 2001 all-star remake featuring the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, Ocean’s Eleven remains among the cinematic high-points for casino heist movies. The 2001 film cleverly ties itself into the original by using a power outage as part of the heist plan, and even though Clooney’s team only rob three casinos simultaneously rather than the five taken on by the rat-pack, their feat is arguably even more impressive given the high-tech nature of modern casino security.
Casino Royale (2006)
Forget the comic 1967 take on Fleming’s first James Bond novel, 2006’s version re-booted the Bond franchise with Daniel Craig providing a refreshingly back-to-basics take on the formula. The film’s poker scenes brilliantly capture the tense nature of high-stakes gambling, though in this case the stakes are even higher than even the amount of money on the table would indicate. Even if Bond does win the poker game, what price will he ultimately pay for victory?
The Hangover (2009)
You know how the old saying goes – “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The protagonists of The Hangover take this to extremes, waking up with no memory of their previous night’s escapades, which involved a tiger, Mike Tyson, and getting married to a stripper among other things. The trio must piece together the chaos of their stag weekend gone awry and find the missing groom, and at one point they use their knowledge of card-counting to win $80,000 by playing blackjack. A risky strategy, but one that paid off in this instance.
Finally, why not start with where it arguably all began? Bugsy tells the story of Las Vegas pioneer Bugsy Siegel and his dream of setting up a casino in the desert – the casino in question is the Flamingo Las Vegas, which still stands today. Sadly, after spending 6 million dollars on finishing the casino, Bugsy would ultimately not live long enough to see his dream come to fruition – the danger of working for the mob rearing its ugly head once again.
There you have it – five movies that may well make you yearn for the thrill of the casino. Of course, you don’t have to travel to Las Vegas to get your kicks these days, or even leave the house at all – websites like Intertops’ online Casino site make it easy for you to scratch your gambling itch from the comfort of your own home.