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The Gambler (1974) - movie overview

The Gambler (1974)

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Plot Description
Shooting Locations

DVD Release Date
 R1: May 14, 2002

MPAA Rating

Running Time
1 hour, 51 minutes

Country USA

Studio Paramount

More info on

Other Titles
• The Gambler
• Spieler ohne Skrupel (1975)

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Genre: Drama, Gangsters, Suspense, Prostitution, Psychodrama

Tagline: For $10,000 they break your arms. For $20,000 they break your legs. Axel Freed owes $44,000.

Plot: THE GAMBLER, directed by Karel Reisz, stars James Caan in a difficult role as Alex Freed, a compulsive gambler with many inner demons, who is completely out of control. He can't resist a bad bet because that's where the "juice" is. While his irrational rationalizations--largely influenced by Dostoyevsky, whose novel, THE GAMBLER, he teaches to his students at City College--might seem like a lot of existential hot air, they are well dramatized, making his descent downward believable even as his actions become increasingly frenetic.

Reisz provides a sound realism to the THE GAMBLER's settings both in Las Vegas and on the streets of New York. Made at the same time as Robert Altman's CALIFORNIA SPLIT, which attempted to visually create the internal world of the compulsive gambler, here Reisz presents a gritty realism to the world of bookies, loan sharks, and their violent enforcers. He relies on Caan, generally a more physical actor, to portray the cultured intellectual who loves Mahler, but is obsessed with danger. Caan starts slowly, and with the help of Lauren Hutton in a good performance as Billie, his predictable blond girlfriend, he illuminates the world of gambling in this tense, realistic film.

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 Directed by
Karel Reisz
The French Lieutenant's Woman, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Sweet Dreams
 Written by
James Toback
Bugsy, Two Girls and a Guy, Black and White
James Caan
The Godfather, Dogville, Eraser
Paul Sorvino
Goodfellas, Romeo + Juliet, The Cooler
Lauren Hutton
American Gigolo, My Father the Hero, Once Bitten
Burt Young
Once Upon a Time in America, Rocky, Rocky IV
M. Emmet Walsh
Blade Runner, Romeo + Juliet, Wild Wild West
James Woods
Contact, Casino, Once Upon a Time in America
Morris Carnovsky
Deadly Is the Female, Cyrano de Bergerac, Dead Reckoning
 Music By
Jerry Fielding
The Wild Bunch, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Escape from Alcatraz

 Recommended Movies
Movie Title Agree Disagree
Rounders (1998)
Harvard Man (2001)
Owning Mahowny (2003)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
Save the Tiger (1973)
California Split (1974)
Fingers (1978)

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