Hollywood has seen its fair share of classic movies use casinos as their inspiration but which of these movies have the best and the worst casino scenes? Check out our list of the good, the bad, and the outrageous.
The epic gangster movie that was directed by Martin Scorsese has a number of brilliant scenes but the stand-out one has to come when Robert De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein shows exactly why he’s the big man in his casino by dealing with a gambler who has become too big for his boots. After the gambler refuses to take his feet off the table, Rothstein demands that his heavies remove the trouble maker using his head as a battering for the exit door. It is a moment of pure violent poetry in motion.
The beautiful Oscar-winning movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise had a huge impact on movie culture with parodies and spoofs using material from the film in comedic fashion. The one scene that has been recreated countless times is when Cruise’s character Charlie Babbitt realises that his autistic brother, Hoffman’s Raymond Babbitt, can count cards to an unimaginably efficient level and earn the brothers some cash in the local casinos. In a moral tale that changed perspectives on autism this is a light-hearted segment of a movie that holds a very powerful message.
The 21st movie in the James Bond franchise was also actor Daniel Craig’s first outing as the eponymous secret agent and it was a debut that was highly praised by fans and critics alike as he took on the role of 007 as he tries to take down the criminal mastermind Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen.
The casino scene is pure Hollywood drama to a degree of pushing realism to its extreme but is excused due to the raw grittiness that is felt during the atmospheric scene. In a final hand of a high stakes poker game, Bond defeats his rivals by revealing a straight flush in a four-way showdown where each player showing his cards betters his rival before Bond takes the win and all the money.
If you didn’t already hate Mel Gibson enough for his drunken anti-Semitic rants, then watching this unrealistic poker scene from this Richard Donner-directed movie will probably be the tipping point for you. The movie was critically-acclaimed for its comedy value and charm but it is far from a classic and one that does not wash with casino goers.
The scene that takes the biscuit is when Gibson’s Bret Maverick is playing in a high stakes poker game aboard the Lauren Belle paddle steamer. Maverick manages to draw the Ace of spades he needs to hit the royal flush required for victory in the final hand. It is borderline fantasy but all for the drama of the silver screen. The same could be argued for Casino Royale except the Bond movie lacked the shameless cheese of this 1990s corn-fest.
It seems a shame to put what is essentially a very solid film into this category but we simply cannot ignore the absolute shambles of a scene that sees Lola, played by Franka Potente, head to the casino in an effort to come up with the 100,000 Deutschmarks that she needs in 20 minutes. Even more ridiculous is that she places a 100 Deutschmark chip on the number 20 in a game of roulette.
You won’t be surprised to know that she pulls it off as the roulette ball lands on the correct section of the wheel to win her the money needed. Not only does this scene throw the odds out of the window but it also completely ignores the human rationale. With so much at stake what kind of nut job would head to the casino and bet their entire life on a game of roulette? Well, it seems Lola would… the crazy woman!
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
We are not quite sure whether to put this down as one of the best or the worst casino scenes in movie history. The scene in question is when Johnny Depp’s Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro’s Dr Gonzo attempt to gain entry into the Circus Circus casino under the influence of a narcotic called Devil Ether.
The scene is hilarious and obscene in equal measure. It involves some of the most skilled acting by Depp and del Toro but it also comments on the dark side of Las Vegas stating that the drug makes those that take it behave “like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel” but they are still accepted into the casino despite being in this state.