Roulette has been one of the main draws in casinos for decades and the game has also captured the hearts of punters and filmmakers for its glamor and suspense.
The game is unique in that it offers players the opportunity to join with others for a unique spin, with the ball tumbling down to its final destination at the end providing a final piece of drama.
Roulette has featured in many films over the years as Hollywood sought to tap into the suspense, with a lot of money hitting the bottom line, usually with characters who couldn’t afford to lose. All movies featuring roulette are usually set in glamorous locations around non-UK casinos. This article will provide a brief review of some of the best movies.
Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the lead roles, was a classic film released in 1943.
Bogart plays the main character Rick Blaine, a stoic former nightclub owner in Casablanca, Morocco at the start of World War II. Despite pressure from local authorities, Cafe Rick has become a safe haven for refugees seeking letters that will allow them to flee to America. However, one day a former girlfriend of Rick, accompanied by her Bulgarian husband, shows up at the cafe. With Ingrid Bergman playing Ilsa, Rick faces tough decisions as he seeks to help the couple find a way out of Africa.
Casablanca was a big Oscar success with three Oscar victories in 1944, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Curtiz. Bogart was nominated for the role of Best Actor, but ultimately lost to Paul Lukas.
Casablanca is one of the first to introduce roulette and immediately capitalizes on the suspense factor as Rick must secure a victory at the tables to pay the couple’s exit visa. But Rick needs to keep his reputation with the locals intact, so he needs to play a mind game. Rick tells the Bulgarian to bet on the number 22. Already a friend of the croupier, Rick discreetly communicates his intrigue and 22 goes back twice to get the money needed for the visas. Rick plays cool and hugs his former lover, while he encourages them to take it and leave immediately. The croupier hints that the group is still losing the night in a last ditch effort to avoid attention. This keeps Rick’s reputation intact and the couple get their safe escape route to the United States.
Diamonds are forever
The next big movie starring roulette was the James Bond feature Diamonds are Forever and no one else captures the glitz and suspense of Roulette as Bond. This time 007 is played by Sean Connery, who is on the trail of a diamond smuggling ring, which takes him to Las Vegas. There, he finds an evil plot involving a wealthy businessman named Blofeld.
On the roulette scene, James Bond’s entry to the table is distinguished by 007’s suave appearance and charisma, against a backdrop of jewelry and cocktails.
The James Bond franchise has other memorable high-stakes gaming characteristics, such as in the movie Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig. Craig is on the tail of a French mathematician and trafficker named Le Chiffre. Once again, the film was set at another non-UK casino in the Czech Republic, starring sunshine, glamor and wealth.
The Gambler was released in 1971 and stars James Caan as Axel Freed. Freed is the classic Hollywood-style gamer, where he optimizes the ups and downs of the game. Freed’s addictive personality sometimes allows his habits to make the most of him. In modern times, Axel Freed would likely be a character looking for non-GamStop casinos to escape the restrictions that were introduced to protect problem gamblers.
Freed plays a college professor, but outside of his school role, he can’t control his gambling habits. When Freed loses all his money at the tables, he borrows money from his girlfriend, then turns to her mother for help, before the loan sharks started calling. As the spiral of gambling continues and Freed’s world crumbles, it is reminiscent of scenes that took place in modern online casinos. In the UK, this has seen the UK Gambling Commission take a more aggressive approach to regulation.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a film starring another perfect leading man for the casino world in Robert Downey Jr. Vice. Downey Jr and the rest of those main characters fit the game’s personality so well in that they are frowned upon in society, but these larger-than-life characters weren’t created to follow the rules and be limited by a gambling authority. While it is important to regulate the vulnerable bettor, it is a fine line between protecting and losing the freedom to pursue your own desires.
Although not a very well-known film, it won 5 Oscars and 16 nominations, with Downey Jr. taking home the award for best actor, while Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan taking home the awards for best actor and actress in a supporting role. .
The movie has a twist on the gaming theme as it doesn’t involve a real casino table, but rather a life and death game of Russian roulette.
Running Lola Run
Another modern roulette-themed attempt is in the movie Run Lola Run, which again features a main character who lives on the brink of life. The filmmakers understand that pushing the boundaries of the character is a selling point for films and that it involves another story of villains, debt, runaways and suspense.
Lola de Franke Potente receives a phone call from her boyfriend who lost 100,000 German marks on a metro ride. But to make matters worse, the money belongs to a really bad gangster and she has 20 minutes to find the money or her boyfriend is considering robbing a store for the money.
The plot finds Lola in a casino where she buys a chip worth 100 points and starts betting at the roulette table. After two consecutive wins, she collects 129,000 marks, which is enough to bail out her boyfriend. At this point, he found out that it was a homeless man who had taken the gangster’s money and was chasing him for the money, ignoring his victory. This leads to a fatal turn of events, before Lola arrives from the casino and asks her, “What’s in the bag?”