Casinos have evolved together with society over the centuries. From gaming houses reserved for the top 1% they have become places of entertainment available for everyone. And, of course, they found their way into movies as well.
There are quite a few movies about gambling and casinos, of course. But today, we’re not interested in them. Instead, we are looking for the most memorable scenes where gambling plays an important role in the plot.
Here they are.
Rain Man is a gripping drama about a selfish Los Angeles yuppie (young, urban professional), played by Tom Cruise, whose estranged father leaves all his inheritance to his brother with Savant syndrome, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) whom he didn’t even know existed. In hopes of claiming the inheritance, he takes his brother on a cross-country road trip, during which they grow close. Rain Man won four Oscars and was nominated for four more.
A memorable scene in the movie is when Cruise, discovering his brother’s uncanny abilities, takes him to a casino. They sit down at the blackjack table, where Raymond starts counting cards and winning – that is until the casino security catches them and throws them out.
What makes this movie memorable is that it’s actually inspired by a real-life person named Laurence Kim Peek who, in turn, was never recorded to have set foot in a casino.
In this day and age, fun online slots are the go-to form of casino entertainment for the vast majority of players. Until they arrive in Las Vegas, of course – you can’t visit the Sin City without trying your luck at a gaming table. This is the case of the group of friends in Todd Phillips’ 2009 comedy The Hangover.
As you might expect, the movie comes with a casino scene – and it is one with high stakes, as gangster boss Chow demands they give him $80,000 in poker chips or he’ll kill one of their friends. Luckily, one of the friends turns out to be a card counter, helping them pull off the feat. Alas, the friend they were trying to rescue turns out to have been somewhere else all along. Chaos ensues.
Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) is one of the most intense thrillers ever put on film. Directed by Tom Tykwer, the man behind productions like Cloud Atlas and Sense8, the movie tells the story of Lola (Franka Potente) who needs to get her hands on 100,000 marks within 20 minutes or his boyfriend will be killed. So, she runs across the whole story, desperate to find money in different ways. And the story resets each time she is killed.
Ultimately, Lola runs into a casino. She exchanges her last 100 marks into a chip and heads straight to the roulette table. She bets it on 20, and rejoices as the number wins… but she lets it ride, turning her 100 into a big, life-changing win.
In most movies, casinos are used as mere backdrops for the larger story. Filmmakers rarely use gambling as an actual tool to advance the plot. This is what makes these casino scenes in movies so memorable: they are actually part of the story, no matter if it’s card counting in Rain Man or a game of roulette in Lola Rennt.