This post is brought to you in association with Casino Tropez…
The USA does gambling films like nowhere else. Movies such as Casino (1995), set in the bright lights of Las Vegas, or The Sting (1973), set in an atmospheric Chicago, are testament to this dominance. Yet, there are numerous gambling flicks from UK directors and many that are set in Britain. Here are five of the very best.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
This effervescent gambling flick’s humorous script catapulted Jason Statham to international stardom, and revamped the careers of a number of other talents. A disastrous London card game triggers a series of preposterous but highly entertaining events that see four friends get into serious trouble over a mammoth batch of weed, a stack of money and two antique shotguns. Lock, Stock gave director Guy Ritchie an international name that saw him direct many subsequent features – and come to the attention of Madonna, no less.
The British director of Lock, Stock returned to the theme of gambling, once again enlisting the help of Jason Statham. Jake Green (Statham) is a big time gambler keen to avenge a seven year incarceration for a crime he didn’t commit. He takes on his nemesis Dorothy Macha in a private casino game, with dramatic results. While Revolver was certainly not universally liked by critics, it has gained something of a quasi-cult status, and has even been likened to Donnie Darko by Brian Orndorf, who said Revolver “is the perfect movie for those who like to crack things open and dig around the innards.”
Casino Royale (2006)
The Bond franchise was successfully rebooted with Daniel Craig as the British superspy, in a plot that sees him up against a notorious weapons dealer in a high stakes poker game. Somehow Bond persuades his superiors to stump up the massive $10 million buy-in with tax payers’ money. Much edgier than Brosnan’s 007, here Craig makes one want to don a tuxedo and head down to Montenegro or St Tropez for a spot of poker, roulette or a big range of pokie games (Australian slang for slots machines).
Mike Hodges directs this murky British casino movie, labelled ‘neo noir’ for its internal monologues so reminiscent of early American and British detective films. If it wasn’t disqualified from the Academy Awards for having been shown on Dutch TV, this immersive movie might have earned Hodges some serious gold-ware for his cabinet. The title character Jack Manfred, played by Clive Owen, is a would-be author who takes a job as a croupier to make ends meet. What emerges is a plot line for a truly thrilling gambling novel, which The Croupier does not fail to capitalise on.
Gambling threads through this highly entertaining Guy Ritchie follow-up to Lock Stock. Populated with bent boxing promoters, dangerous bookmakers, pikeys and Russian gangsters, these various parties are desperate to locate a priceless stolen diamond. But perhaps the most priceless thing about this film is Brad Pitt’s hilarious ‘pikey’ Irish accent, a highlight of a fast-talking script peppered with memorable one-liners.