Top 6: Gambling Movies

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

Gambling is an interesting subject for movies because it’s inherently dramatic. Gamblers are interesting characters for movies, because it’s easy for stories to put them in extreme situations. By watching gambling movies, we can experience the excitement of gambling without the risk. A lot of great gambling movies have been made, and our six favorites appear in Episode 49’s Top 6 segment.

What are your favorites?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. The Hustler (1961)
  2. Casino (1995)
  3. The Sting (1973)
  4. Rounders (1998)
  5. Hard Eight (1996)
  6. Boiler Room (2000)
  1. The Sting (1973)
  2. The Hustler (1961)
  3. Guys and Dolls (1955)
  4. Hard Eight (1996)
  5. Casino (1995)
  6. Maverick (1994)


  1. Jeffrey (84) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Yay, I love Maverick too!

    The Cincinnati Kid
    Casino Royale (2006 version)
    Little Miss Marker
    House Of Games
    The Color Of Money
    The Grifters
    Bob le Flambeur
    Indecent Proposal
    Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
    Atlantic City
    Rain Man

  2. Nyperold (116) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Rounders was an easy enough guess. I thought of Casablanca, but didn’t really know if there was enough gambling in it to qualify.

  3. joem18b (231) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Gambling Movie Near Misses

    1. Bambi (1942) - Gamboling
    2. Shampoo (1975) - Proctor and Gamble
    3. Grambling’s White Tiger (1981)
    4. Rambling Rose (1981)
    5. What’s the Use of Grumbling (1918)
    6. Ambling (1986)

    Honorable mention: There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble (2000), Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Macy’s vs Gimble’s. “She had a Gimbling addiction.”

  4. Nyperold (116) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I think Bambi II would work well for the same reason.

  5. joem18b (231) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Movies about bets

    1. Around the World in 80 Days (1956, 2004)

    2. My Fair Lady (1964)

    3. Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980)

    4. Life Stinks (1991) - A Mel Brooks movie that I like

    5. Buffalo ‘66 (1998)

    6. On the Waterfront (1954) - He shoulda looked out for him a little bit. He was his brudder.

  6. Nyperold (116) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Or for that matter, Pat & Mike, in which there are people trying to convince the Katharine Hepburn character not to win the tournament, but go for second, instead, because of the sports gamblers.

  7. joem18b (231) said,

    September 4, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    1. Poolhall Junkies - Includes Walken’s monolog on the lion, king of the jungle.

    2. Igrok (1972) - Highest IMDB rating (7.6) among 5 or 6 versions of the Dostoyevsky novel “The Gambler.”

    3. Shade (2003) - Unjustly maligned guilty pleasure.

    4. The Cooler (2003) - Rated 7.0 for a reason.

    5. Intacto (2001)

    6. 13 Tzameti (2005) - Great little noirish, b&w French flick about gambling on multiple Russian roulette.

  8. joem18b (231) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Speaking of The Color of Money, in the book Fast Eddie and Minnesota Fats go on an exhibition tour of shopping malls - the start of Fast Eddie’s comeback. Guess that wasn’t cool enough for Scorsese.

    California Split (1974) - I watch it again every once in a while. Boy, the early 70s… anything and everything seemed possible for Altman and cinema back then… I’m glad to see Gould working in the Ocean movies; he was huge in the early 70s.


    1. Seventh Seal (1957) - Chess with Death.

    2. The Quick and the Dead (1995) - All were quick; most ended up dead.

    3. The Wages of Fear (1953) - Watch out for bumps.

    4. Series 7: The Contenders (2001) - Kill or be killed. Most entertaining.

    5. The Game (1997) - Was it just me or was it really that stupid?

    …and of course,

    6. You Bet Your LIfe (1950 - 1961) - Groucho on TV.

  9. Heather (11) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Has anyone seen Croupier? Great early work by Clive Owen.

  10. Jeffrey (84) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I like Croupier too. It has a small following here in the UK, but apparently it has a good reputation in the US as well.

  11. joem18b (231) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Croupier was one of those little films that you hear good things about but never see playing anywhere, for me at least. Every time I ran across a mention of it and how good it was, I’d make a mental note to be sure and watch it when I found it. Finally, years later, it showed up somewhere and I did watch it. I think I was a little disappointed just because I’d waited so long to see it, and because, as I recall, Clive Owen wasn’t James Bond but instead a man who had been damaged by his father in his youth. Anyway, I do have it on the following list of watchable (pretty good) gambling movies:

    1. Two for the Money (2005) - Pacino the scenery-chewing tout.

    2. Eight Men Out (1988) - Black Sox.

    3. High Roller: The Stu Unger Story (2003) - If you like Michael Imperioli and/or Texas holdem.

    4. Croupier (1998) - Clive Owen in his tux trying out for the James Bond role.

    5. 5-Card Stud (1968) - Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, stud, and murder.

    6. Who’s Got the Action (1958) - Sting precursor.

  12. joem18b (231) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Back in the day:


    1. Dark Manhattan (1937) - Numbers racket
    2. The Girl and the Gambler (1939) - Leo Carrillo
    3. Gambling Lady (1934) - Stanwyck
    4. The Day the Bookies Wept (1939)
    5. Saratoga (1937) - Racing
    6. Racing Lady (1937)


    Fighting Fools (1949) - Bowery Boys and boxing fixes
    So You Want To Play the Horses (1946) - One of the Joe McDoakes shorts.
    The Gangster (1947) - Numbers racket
    Blondie’s Holiday (1947) - Bookies
    Force of Evil (1947) - Numbers
    Jiggs and Maggie in Jackpot Jitters (1949) - Wonder why they made it Jiggs and Maggie instead of the usual Maggie and Jiggs?

  13. Nyperold (116) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Maybe it sounds better with the rest of the title?

  14. joem18b (231) said,

    September 5, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Seems like saying “Jerry and Tom” instead of “Tom and Jerry.”

    Lottery-type gambling:

    1. McTeague (1916)
    2. Waking Ned (1998)
    3. It Could Happen to You (1994)
    4. Faustrecht der Freiheit (1975) - Fassbinder. 8.0.
    5. The Island (2005) - Includes how to shoot a glamour star whose figure doesn’t comport with current standards of beauty.
    6. [Can’t remember the title] - Ends with the bad guy pulling out and announcing the winning lottery numbers on a boat, but at the same time the good guys announce the numbers on a loudspeaker so that it looks like the lottery is a hoax.

  15. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Well, if we’re naming any movie that has ever had any type of gambling in it, then we should also include Trading Places and Ocean’s Eleven.

    I have been wanting to see Croupier since it came out (FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FLASH GORDON!!!) and I finally found it on TV and recorded it. Eventually I will sit down and watch it and expect that I will like it.

    I do like Jeffrey’s mention of Casino Royale since Bond is in casinos so often. Now he is a Texas Hold ‘Em player after years of Baccarat.

  16. joem18b (231) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Some favorite gambling moments:

    1. Bad Lieutenant (1992) - The Mets lose again and Keitel pounds the steering wheel.

    2. Lost in America (1985) - “You lost our nest egg. You can never use the word egg again. Or omlette.” (Or whatever that quote was.)

    3a. Goldfinger (1964) - Bond cheats Goldfinger at gin rummy.

    3b. The Apartment (1960) - Lemmon and McLaine play gin rummy.

    4. [forget the name] - Jerry Lewis eats what he thinks is a black jelly bean, but it’s actually a thousand-dollar poker chip thingee.

    5. Blue wire/Red wire - All those movies where if you clip the wrong wire, you blow up. They always have cool little clippers.

    6. All those deal-with-the-devil movies - Seems like betting with the devil, you can usually win.

    Honorable Mention: Deer Hunter (1978) Russian roulette, Ben-Hur (1959) chariot race, Amores Perros (2000) dog fight.

  17. joem18b (231) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Various ways of winning and losing money:

    1. Bingo the Documentary (1999)
    2. Los Bingueros (1979)
    3. Pachinko Graffiti (1992)
    4. Black Jack (2004)
    5. Du Shen (1989) - Chow Yun Fat as Ko Chun, “The God of Gamblers”
    6. Free and Easy (1941) - Bob Cummings in his earlier days

  18. Outatime (13) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    No one mentioned Owning Mahony, with P. S. Hoffman. I think it’s a great “gambling” movie. Based on a true story about a banker would takes out phony loans to get himself out of his gambling debt.

    And yeah, Deer Hunter… what the crap? The most brutal gambling scene I’ve ever had to experiance.

  19. joem18b (231) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I agree. Any Top Six list about gambling probably ought to have an addict on it and it would be hard to beat Hoffman. Some real cringe-worthy moments in Owning Mahony.

    And for some more Russian roulette (13 at once), check out “13 Tzameti.”

    Some other addicts:

    1. The Gambler (1974) - Jame Caan, probably the best known addict?
    2. 24 HOurs of a Woman’s Life (1952) - Gambling addiction in Monte Carlo.
    3. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) - More addiction.
    4. La Baie des Anges (1963) - Demy, Jeanne Moreau (the addict), LeGrand.
    5. Alex and Emma (2003) - Alex the addict in trouble.
    6. Funny Girl (1968) - Just to get Omar Sharif in here.

  20. Ferrick (140) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    There really are a lot of movies that can fit this category. Sam and Stephen, were your lists long and hard to cut down?

    Plenty of movies have bets that are placed or cards that are played but not nearly as many revolve around gambling. The Deer Hunter is a great mention because of the gambling scene in the movie but it isn’t really a gambling movie.

    I submit the following as a sports/boxing/con/gambling/under-rated movie: Diggstown

  21. joem18b (231) said,

    September 6, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Diggstown is a most excellent movie about bets and fighting, I agree!

    Can’t leave out betting and fighting from a gambling list, that’s for sure.

    Diggstown reminds me of Fat City (1972), another small-town fight movie.

    Some other betting-and-fighting movies that I liked:

    1. Every Which Way But Loose (1978)/Any Which Way You Can (1980) - Philo Beddoe and Clyde

    2. Blood Sport (1988)/Kickboxer (1989) - Van Damme

    3. Gladiator (2000)/Spartacus (1960)

    4. Play It to the Bone (1999)

    5. World in My Corner (1956) - Audie Murphy almost throws a fight.

    6. Body and Soul (1947) - John Garfield. Hard to beat the 40s fight movies, back when boxing meant something.

    Honorable mention: Kid Galahad - Take your pick, Bogart or Elvis!

  22. Sam (405) said,

    September 7, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Once “Gladiator” and “any red wire/blue wire movie” make lists of the greatest gambling movies of all time, it’s about nine lists past time to stop.

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