Gambling is a pursuit that carries with it a whole array of human emotions: hope and disappointment, apprehension and exasperation, excitement and despondency. Characterised by high stakes and high glamour, it’s little wonder that its stories work so well when transported onto the silver screen.
In fact, this niche genre has spawned some truly magnificent movie classics. Showcasing the talents of some of the most exceptional actors alive, as well as superb scriptwriting and skilful characterisation, its finest masterpieces really ought to be enjoyed by all.
Here are just four of them to add to your already extended list of must-see films.
Starring a fresh-faced Matt Damon alongside a sterling cast of acting talent, this fantastic film tells the story of a youthful entrepreneur who funds his university fees via his triumphs at the poker table. Filled to the brim with famous faces, including both John Malkovich and Edward Norton, the movie is carried along not only by its brilliant performances, but by its high stakes action, gritty screenplay, and a host of characters you just can’t help rooting for. Its final showdown – a tense and tension-filled game that pits Damon’s character against an irrepressible poker baron villain – will have you at the edge of your seat in seconds.
Based on a seemingly improbable but entirely true story, 21 is a modern classic amongst the casino movie mainstays. Set in an era before online gambling, it charts the misdeeds of a maths professor played by Kevin Spacey, who trains a group of talented students to count cards. Heading for a series of major Vegas casinos, these anarchist academics soon embark on some adrenaline-fuelled trickery, achieving a success so grandiose, and performing acts so hedonistic, that one might find them entirely unbelievable if they didn’t know the truth behind the tale.
James Bond films stand as modern masterpieces in their own right, but that doesn’t detract from Casino Royale’s special standing amongst the subgenre of casino classics. Moving at breakneck speed, this story of the famed spy pits Daniel Craig’s Bond against one of the many villainous figures he’s faced, embodied by poker-playing torturer Le Chiffre. The most memorable scene in the movie is the one in which our protagonist pits himself against his adversary, by challenging him to an all-or-nothing poker game. The setting is sumptuous, Eva Green superb, and the poker edge-of-your-seat intense. If you ever fancy emulating the action yourself in an online casino like LeoVegas but don’t know where to start, you can always use a site like Bonus.ca to read more.
Aptly named, Casino is the final gambling great on our definitive list of silver screen classics. Starring a magnificent cast that includes everyone from Robert De Niro to Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone, it follows a casino owner with mafia ties, who finds himself pitted against a psychotic enforcer who threatens all he holds dear. Boasting stunning performances, harrowing and memorable scenes, and a story that will keep you hooked from the start through to the finish, this really is a cinematic great.
Which of these gripping tales of gambling will you watch first? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or Facebook!