From modern heist films like ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, to edge-of-your-seat thrillers like ‘Rounders’, Hollywood’s fascination with gambling is decades old. Whether exposing the dark side of the casino lifestyle, or cheating with card counting, the best casino movies of all time are all steeped in the high-octane atmosphere of casino venues.
Below; our TOP 10 Casino Movies and their unforgettable quotes.
#1 THE HANGOVER (TODD PHILLIPS, 2009)
“Counting cards isn’t exactly illegal… It’s just frowned upon” – Alan Garner.
The Hangover is a quintessential “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” casino movie. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan and Stu head to Vegas to celebrate their friend Doug’s bachelor party in style. The 3 friends wake up with no memory of the night’s events, a missing bridegroom and a tiger in the bathroom. With mere hours to reassemble the pieces and find Doug, can they make it to the wedding on time? A hilarious and out-of-control portrayal of Vegas and its mind-blowing casinos.
#2 CASINO ROYALE (MARTIN CAMPBELL, 2006)
“I’m sorry. That last hand… nearly killed me” – James Bond.
Casino Royale is the 21st James Bond film, released in 2006 and based on Ian Fleming’s 1953 book of the same name. The film is a re-make of the 1967 film in which the Bond story is told again, apart from the previous films, and Bond has yet to prove him self. Daniel Craig plays the role of secret agent James for the first time.
This 21st Bond film is a so-called reboot. A new Bond has been chosen, which may come closest to the character from the books. A soldier, actually a murderer, who can easily be replaced. In Casino Royale we see James Bond as an agent at MI6. Here he battles with Le Chiffre, a criminal who acts as a banker for terrorists. James Bond is sent to play the game and to stop Le Chiffre from winning and escaping. With international security at stake, Bond enters into the most important poker game of his career, in this captivating casino scene.
The film shows Bond getting his famous Aston Martin DB5. This is of course much too expensive for a secret agent, but Bond acts he won it at the poker table.
#3 FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998)
“With a bit of luck, his life was ruined forever.” – Raoul Duke.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 American psychedelic satirical black comedy road film adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film details the duo’s journey through Las Vegas as their initial journalistic intentions devolve into an exploration of the city under the influence of psychoactive substances.
In the company of his crazed Samoan lawyer, Thompson heads to Vegas with a hefty advance to cover a sporting event for a magazine. Blowing the money on a massive amount of drugs they set out in search of the “American Dream”; encountering police, gamblers, drug dealers, and hitch-hikers along the way.
#4 CASINO (MARTIN SCORSESE, 1996)
“I was so good that when I bet, I can change the odds for every bookmaker in the country” – Ace Rothestein.
Casino is a 1995 film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi, who contributed to the screenplay. Robert De Niro plays “Ace” Rothstein, an excellent gambler who is sent to Las Vegas by some mob bosses to lead their illegal practices at the “Tangiers Casino”. The story is based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who ran several casinos for the Mafia between 1970 and 1980.
Greed, deception, money, power, and murder reign in this casino movie which illustrates the dark realities of a casino gangster. The film is known for its striking cinematography. The filming mainly took place at night in a real casino. As a basis for the style and appearance of the film, director Martin Scorsese based himself on Ocean’s Eleven from 1960.
The film also received several awards. It was nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes, one of which he was able to cash in.
#5 OCEAN’S ELEVEN (STEVEN SODERBERGH, 2001)
“Shane, you’ve got three pairs. You can’t have six cards! You can’t have six cards in a five-card game!” – Rusty Ryan.
Ocean’s Eleven is a 2001 American heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Ted Griffin. The first installment of the Ocean’s franchise, it is a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name. Ocean’s Eleven features an ensemble cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy García, Bernie Mac and Julia Roberts.
Ocean’s Eleven follows friends Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt), who plan a heist of $150 million from casino owner Terry Benedict (García), the lover of Ocean’s wife Tess (Roberts).
Their target? Three of the biggest casino in Las Vegas — The Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand —, all owned by tycoon Terry Benedict. The ultimate casino heist film! Upon release, the film was a success at the box office and with critics; it was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2001, with a worldwide gross of $450 million. Soderbergh directed two sequels, Ocean’s Twelve in 2004 and Ocean’s Thirteen in 2007, which make up the Ocean’s Trilogy.
#6 ROUNDERS (JOHN DAHL, 1998)
“I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I’m really thinkin’ about is Vegas and the Mirage” – Mike McDermott.
Rounders is a 1998 American drama film about the underground world of high-stakes poker. The movie was directed by John Dahl starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton. The film follows the two friends who hope to pay their debts through poker. The term “rounder” refers to a person whose profession is cards. The film received moderate reviews, but due to the popularity of poker, Rounders slowly became a cult film.
Rounders is about former rounder Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) who has promised his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol) to stop playing poker. At that moment, his best friend “Worm” (Edward Norton) is out of prison who is in great debt. Worm convinces Mike to start playing poker together and earn money to pay Worm’s debt.
Rounders is often viewed as the top casino movie for poker fans.
#7 21 (ROBERT LUKETIC, 2008)
“It’s a game with memory, the cards drawn are the past and the one’s to come are future”- Jill.
21 is a 2008 American heist drama film directed by Robert Luketic and starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, Liza Lapira, Jacob Pitts, Aaron Yoo, and Kieu Chinh. The film is inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team as told in Bringing Down the House, the best-selling book by Ben Mezrich.
With the desire to become a doctor but no funds to pay the $300,000 in tuition fees, Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) needs the scholarship to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine. Sensing his need for money and talent for numbers, Ben’s unorthodox maths professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) invites him to join a select group of gifted individuals.
Ben joins his new friends on secret weekend trips to Las Vegas where, using their card-counting skills, they make hundreds of thousands of dollars on the blackjack tables. However, along with money comes greed and power and the students end up in a situation where everything they have learned and earned could come undone!
Despite its largely mixed reviews and controversy over the film’s casting choices, 21 was a box office success, and was the number one film in the United States and Canada during its first and second weekends of release.
#8 THE GAMBLER (KAREL REISZ, 1974)
“I’m not going to lose it. I’m going to gamble it.” – Axel Freed.
The Gambler is a 1974 American crime drama film written by James Toback and directed by Karel Reisz. It stars James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton. Caan’s performance was widely lauded and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
On the surface, Axel Freed (James Caan) is an inspiring English professor and author; but underneath, a troubled individual with a serious gambling addiction and soaring debts. Stealing the $44,000 from his own mother, he heads to Vegas with his wife Billie in a bid to win it all back. A powerful tale of the grip of addiction, alienation and how far people will go when the stakes are really high.
#9 CROUPIER (MIKE HODGES, 1998)
“Gambling’s not about money… Gambling’s about not facing reality, ignoring the odds. – Jack.
Croupier is a 1998 British neo-noir film directed by Mike Hodges and starring Clive Owen. The film attracted a strong critical following in North America and helped to launch Owen’s acting career there. It uses interior monologues in the style of many early noir detective films.
Struggling writer, Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) takes a job as a croupier to make ends meet in London. Consumed by the shady casino lifestyle, Jack gets embroiled in under-the-table dealings with a gambler and events begin to spiral out of control; at the casino, and in his personal life.
Croupier takes a different perspective from traditional casino movies; showcasing the cold reality, far from the glamourous high rollers of Vegas. Croupier was released on DVD by Alliance Atlantis in Canada and Image Entertainment in the US. It was disqualified from the Academy Awards after it was shown on Dutch television.
#10 RAIN MAN (BARRY LEVINSON, 1988)
“So, what are you doing in Las Vegas?” – Iris.
A film about family ties, mental astuteness, and crossing the boundaries of ‘legal’ in Las Vegas. Rain Man is a 1988 American comedy-drama film directed by Barry Levinson.
It tells the story of abrasive, selfish young wheeler-dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant, of whose existence Charlie was unaware. Charlie is left with only his father’s beloved vintage car and rosebushes. Valeria Golino also stars as Charlie’s girlfriend Susanna.
Rain Man was the highest-grossing film of 1988. The film won four Oscars at the 61st Academy Awards (March 1989), including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Hoffman. Its crew received an additional four nominations. The film also won the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.