Thursday, 4 August 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Gambling

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

I thought I'd seen a fair few films about gambling but it turns out I haven't. There seems to be more films about gamblers rather than gambling, but that's just my observation. 

I love Maverick, its such a fun watch. After I've exhausted my usual go to films when I'm feeling ill, Maverick is next up. I can't remember where or when I first saw this but I was hooked. Set in the old west, Maverick, is an excellent poker player but he's also a but of a coward and a talker. On his way to a big game where the prize money is $500,000, he is collecting whats owed to him by friends and also picks up a few travel companions. It's actually quite funny in places and you learn a little smidge about poker too. Mel Gibson take over the title role from James Garner, who played him in the TV show in 60s, but he also appears as a Marshall in the film. Great fun!

Saint John of Las Vegas
This was a film I saw the trailer for on Apple trailers and hoped for a release in the UK but it never came. I eventually saw it on DVD and although I’m a big fan of Steve Buscemi, this had an ambiguous ending that made me feel flat and trapped at the same time. This is how we start and end with Saint John of Las Vegas about a bad gambler who moves miles away from temptation and works for an insurance company. But he is tested when he has to investigate a possible fraudulent claim back in Las Vegas. There are some amusing moments and really, Steve Buscemi (along with Romany Malco) make the film entertaining to watch.

The Cooler
Bought on a whim and because I liked the cast, plus it was Tartan DVD, I watched The Cooler. William H Macy is Bernie aka The Cooler, employed by casino owner Shelly (Alec Baldwin) who he is also in debt to, has the job of cooling down a winner's table. But Bernie has almost paid off his debts so Shelly pays waitress Maria Bello, Natalie to seduce him into staying, but the two fall in love. What with the arrival of Bernie's son and his wife in town, things start to go wrong. The film has grit with some quite nasty scenes and really is a story about losing to winning but with other sad things in the middle.


  1. Gambling, gamblers, what's the difference? Anyway, Maverick is on my watchlist already and The Cooler sounds interesting. And I'm a fan of Buscemi so I guess I'll watch Saint John of Las Vegas too.

    1. The Cooler is a good film, not one I'd watch over and over though. Yes! Buscemi fan! He's just great. When you see he's in a film (apart from a Sandler film) you know its got to be good.

  2. Good fits for the theme. Considering Maverick stars pre-implosion Gibson he still retains much of the charm that took him to the top in it. I enjoyed the original series and this is a good extension of it with both Garner and Jodie Foster adding a good deal to the fun.

    I wasn't crazy about The Cooler but William H. Macy was his usual wonderful self. Never heard of the Buscemi film but I like him so I'll have to give it a shot.

    I stuck to a theme with my titles so had to put my favorite of my films, which was the first one that occurred to me, in as an extra.

    The Gambler (1974)-College professor Axel Freed (James Caan) seems to have a good life but is caught in the grip of a severe gambling addiction which threatens not only his job but all his relationships and perhaps his life when he gets in deep with loan sharks.

    The Lady Gambles (1949)-Joan Boothe (Barbara Stanwyck) accompanies his reporter husband Dave to Las Vegas when he goes there on a story. At loose ends and thinking she might find a story of her own she pokes around the hotel casino with a hidden camera. The owner at first thinks she’s a hustler but realizing she isn’t gives her a few chips to play. Thinking it’s a lark she takes them but finds she can’t stop once she’s begun.

    Gambling Lady (1934)-Lady Lee (Barbara Stanwyck) is determined to beat the gambling syndicate who drove her father to suicide at their own game while staying true to her dad’s insistence to always remain on the up and up. She’s extremely successful but complications arise when she becomes involved with the married Garry Madison (Joel McCrea) who could possibly be a murderer.

    Honorable Mention:
    The Cincinnati Kid (1965)-Professional poker player The Cincinnati Kid (Steve McQueen) is a young man moving from game to game in 30’s era New Orleans looking to establish himself as the best and torn between two beauties, the worldly Melba (Ann-Margret) and innocent Christian (Tuesday Weld). Ultimately he goes up against a legend of the sport, Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) in a high-stakes poker game. Wonderfully atmospheric drama with a powerhouse cast most of whom have fantastic monikers: Lady Fingers (Joan Blondell), Shooter (Karl Malden), Slade (Rip Torn) and Yeller (Cab Calloway) among others and a strong lead performance from that King of Cool McQueen.

    1. I was thinking that, Gibson with charm. You look at him now and wonder what the hell happened.

      The Cooler, for me, had a great cast but its not a repeat watch sort of film.

      Great sounding picks - not seen any but 2 Stanwyck films I gotta see!

  3. I love Maverick and you are so right that it is a film that one has fun watching. I love the scene with Graham Greene...cracks me up every time. I haven't even heard of the 2nd film but I have heard of the 3rd but haven't seen it yet.

    1. Hahahaha that's one of my favourite scenes! I love how he cons the Russian guy. It is just fun right? Plus picking up poker tips along the way.

  4. Never seen the second film.
    Maverick I have seen but can't remember much other than it was sort of a comedy as well.

    1. If you love Buscemi you'll like Saint John. It's all about the Buscemi.