The five best casino-themed films

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The magic of the green table and of betting to the last chip has always had a magnetic appeal, capable of attracting anyone even if they are not hardened gamblers. This is well known by directors and screenwriters, who have set the best films in the glittering walls of casinos around the world since time immemorial. Even though online gambling is becoming predominant, and non aams casinos are becoming more and more popular in Italy, partly thanks to faster registrations and substantial bonuses, the physical casino remains a point of reference for any enthusiast. So, let's enter the magical world of films and hunt down the five best casino-themed films released to date:

At number one can only be 'Ocean's Eleven', by Steven Soderbergh. An excellent cast and a plot that knows how to mix elegance, criminality and a good dose of irony in a comedy that is never violent for a film that is a box-office hit all over the world. Fresh out of prison, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his partner and friend Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) plan the heist of the century: they plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos whose owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) has stolen Danny's wife. The stakes are 160 million dollars, but the risk is high, so Danny and Rusty must hire the best professionals in the business. Ocean's Eleven is an enjoyable and light-hearted film, where the protagonists are never violent and manage to make the audience fall in love on the other side of the screen.

"Casino Royale' is another film that certainly deserves a mention in this list. Produced in 2006, starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright and Claudio Santamaria, it tells the story of the exploits of James Bond, on the trail of an organisation that finances terrorist acts for financial speculation. The film, directed by Martin Campbell, sees Daniel Craig take on the role of the secret agent, who is on the trail of Le Chiffre, an unscrupulous banker who finances terrorist organisations. Bond's intervention messes up his plans, foiling an attack on an airline. Le Chiffre thus finds himself in debt and embarrassment with a mysterious African warlord, and to settle the score he organises an exclusive poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. Financed by the government and controlled by the charming accountant Vesper Lynd, Bond is among the ten wealthy participants competing for the million-dollar pot. Surviving a long night of bluffing, strategizing, chasing, poisoning and torture, it is love that will bend the British agent and shape his sentimental destiny.

In third place is 'Casino', by Martin Scorsese. The 1995 film is, of course, set in Las Vegas, and the events take place on the gambling tables, with Robert De Niro playing Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, a gambler who is commissioned by the mafia to run a new casino. He is joined by Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a violent mobster friend of Sam's who is tasked with protecting and supervising him. The casino goes on a roll and Sam marries the attractive Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), who, however, betrays him between alcohol and unlimited drugs. A very violent film, at times tempered by a little irony, where gambling acts as a backdrop and cover for mafia operations. 

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of those films that might not appeal to everyone, but has something intriguing and mesmerising about it. The 1998 film stars a very young Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke, a stoned journalist who travels with his lawyer, Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), to the city of Las Vegas to write an article about a car race. The two will use the occasion to consume drugs and alcohol without limits and will also visit the city's most illustrious casino, the Bazooko Circus, amidst a thousand vicissitudes and unforeseen events, always influenced by all kinds of drugs. Tobey Maguire and Cameron Diaz also star in the film.

Finally, 'The Hangover', a 2009 film directed by Todd Philips starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha as four friends heading to Las Vegas for Doug's (Justin Bartha) bachelor party. Needless to say, anything and everything will happen, in a hilarious comedy that also won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical Film.

This article was written in cooperation with il Casino Italiano