From Bond to blackjack, from heists to daring winning runs, what better pairing than cinema and casinos? The tension is unbeatable – that being said, there’s plenty of competition for top dog. Here are six of the best casino films from throughout cinema history.
Nothing quite says Bond like a suited and booted poker table – when the secret agent himself burst back onto the big screen in 2006 with Casino Royale it was a true landmark, not only for the franchise but for cinema history as a whole. The reboot set headliner Daniel Craig on the path to stardom and carved a path for everyone’s favourite secret agent to step into the 21st century. Investigating the source of criminal funding, Bond wrangles his way onto a seat around a high stakes Hold ‘Em table.
With her Majesty’s treasury backing him, what could possibly go wrong?
Lola is out to save her boyfriend’s life in just twenty minutes. She needs one hundred thousand Deutsche Mark or the game is up: cue the inevitably tense countdown. There’s nothing like a high stakes thriller film (with philosophical themes to boot) to get the blood pumping. Watch Run Lola Run before hitting the casino yourself, before rolling slots with Thor, before playing Thunderstruck 2 and going for the big win. There are all kinds of games out there for betting and wagering today, but back in the 90s, Lola only had the roulette table.
Right up there next to the casino thriller genre is the casino heist genre, and what better hallmark than the 2001 movie Ocean’s Eleven? Starring Matt Damon, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and an endless list of other heartthrobs, this is a plot that raises the stakes as high as they’ll go. The gang plan to rob not one, but three Las Vegas casinos. Simultaneously.
Jack Manfred works as a croupier to pass the time while writing at night in this 1999 film. Smart and professional, he plies his trade and greets the regulars. Until, one day, he’s taken aside by a familiar face. The man wants to know if Jack will be the inside man on an upcoming robbery. With his romantic relationship struggling and his book still unfinished, Jacks agrees.
Croupier is the story of a heist from the inside, out, and it’s all the more gripping because of it.
There are plenty of ways to get ahead at the casino these days – just take a look at Ruby Fortune’s list of free spins. Challengers can play from anywhere, anytime via 3G and mobile phones, often at no cost at all. 21, however, tells a different story. The story of six MIT students who train to become experts at card counting, it’s a blackjack tale that takes Vegas for millions.
We left the best at the end. Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece still remains one of the most appreciated casino-related films of all time, but that’s not only because of its cast (Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci or James Woods) but also because of its subject matter as a movie of this kind was kind of rare back in the days. “Casino” presents the chronicle of three characters: “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), a real betting master, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), Mafia’s man and Ace’s good friend, and Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), a former prostitute passionate about jewelery and eager for wellness.
The casino genre is almost as old as cinema itself, with tables having cropped up on screen for over a century at this point. And it’s constantly evolving! Only time will tell what stories we’ll get to watch next.