Casinos in cinema

by Laura Martínez

Gambling and money have always been attractive elements in so many movie blockbusters. From thrillers to unforgettable love stories, casinos, neon lights, gambling, and the adventures that come with them, are staple classics of the 7th art.

I’m sure you remember ‘Rain Man’ (Barry Levinson, 1988) where a young Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, two orphan brothers that have nothing but each other. Charlie and Raymond are complete opposites, and they constantly clash; Charlie has a hard time communicating with Raymond, who suffers from autism, but after a night of big winnings at a casino in Vegas, this drastically improves, thanks to Raymond’s ease at scoring at the game.

It was in ’95 when Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ really introduced the game to the big screen. Set in the fabulous 70s led by a stellar cast (Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci) The movie follows Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a professional gambler and owner of one of the most important casinos in Las Vegas, – that surprise, surprise – is involved with the mafia. Sharon Stone was awarded a Golden Globe for best actress of the year, for her role as Ginger McKenna.
Clive Owen embodied an aspiring writer turned croupier in ‘Croupier’ (Mike Hodges, 1998) His dire economic situation provokes him to get entangled with a female colleague who leads him down the destructive side of gambling.

One of the most turbulent love stories set in a casino film, took place in ‘Indecent Proposal’ (1993) directed by Adrian Lyne, tells the story of a young couple, Diana y David (Demi Moore y Woody Harrelson) who are looking for a quick way to fix their money struggles. 

Their desperation takes them to a casino in Las Vegas where they start with a lucky streak, but they decide to keep playing… We all know that if you’re too greedy you end up with nothing.

However, they manage to get ‘lucky’? When an attractive millionaire (Robert Redford) offers them one million dollars if Diana accepts to spend the night with him. The rest is history and lots of tears.

We can’t forget the exhilarating ‘21 Black Jack’ (2008) where a university professor (Kevin Spacey) decides to make some extra cash with the help of his best math class students and teach them how to count cards to cheat at Black Jack, and get rich from it. The group of students in question, are Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth y Aaron Yo. Led by Spacey, they walk around every casino in Las Vegas, filling their pockets, taking on multiple roles and identities.

And to finish off, it couldn’t be any other way, we must mention the James Bond saga (as far as contemporary James Bond movies go, played by Daniel Craig) ‘Casino Royale’ (Martin Campbell, 2006) shows the British agent, this time on a mission to dismantle and detain a terrorist organization, he risks everything in a poker game against the head honcho, Le Chiffre.

Clearly, the plot twists in casino narratives are endless and haven’t been completely explored yet… at Concept, we dream of having our own casino and live new adventures in it. Who knows, maybe one day.

more stories