The Five Best Casino Movies of the Eighties

For most of us, the 80s didn't exactly feel like a period of huge excess. We were kids then, doing the stuff kids did. Adults though? Well, if you managed to get a peak of their movies, it seemed like they were truly living the high-life.

Outrageously luxurious outfits, cool-as-anything haircuts and money, money, money was the order of the day. It's why we'll always have a soft spot for eighties movies, but there's no genre which quite encapsulates those elements quite as completely as the casino movie.

Today, land casinos tend to be few and far between, thanks in part to the rise of the online casino, which, through their free spins on roulette wheels, deposit matches up to £100 and instant, play-anywhere nature have made the real-life casino less relevant than ever.

The casino as a symbol of wealth and power, though? Well, that lives on in movies both past and present. So, join us as we celebrate a few of our very favourite eighties casino movies.
  1. Rain Man (1988) – It's a classic of the eighties, picking up the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards in the year of its release, but Rain Man isn't often remembered for its casino plot line. Blame that on its two outrageously charismatic lead actors (Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman), but Rain Man still goes down as one of the great casino movies of the decade.
  2. Lost in America (1985) – Albert Brooks is a treasure and he shines in this hilarious casino movie about a man who convinces his wife to up sticks, cash in their savings and travel the world – until they lose it all on a single spin. Oops.
  3. Casino Raiders (1989) – Hong Kong's contribution to action cinema has been reconsidered in recent years, with directors championing the incredible, visceral and compelling work that has come out of the nation. Casino Raiders from the tail end of the eighties is a fantastic example, following two best-friends-come-professional-gamblers who are sent to Lake Tahoe to help a man named Lung. High-tension action follows in this classic of the genre.
  4. The Big Town (1987) – Matt Dillon offers a star turn as J. C. Cullen, an Iowa farm boy turned pro craps player in Chicago who falls for the wrong women – don't they always? Suzy Amis, played by Diane Lane, is the wife of Tommy Lee Jones' character, a gangster by the name of George Cole. The Big Town's all-star cast alone makes it, but it really is essential eighties casino viewing.
  5. Atlantic City (1980) – Overshadowed by some pretty gigantic movies upon release (Empire Strikes Back, anyone?) Atlantic City is absolutely worth your time. Starring Burt Lancaster as Lou, a washed-up mob hit-man (or, so he claims) beside a young Susan Sarandon, a woman who dreams of being the first female croupier in Monte Carlo, it's a casino-coloured love affair that's far darker, deeper and better written than it has any right to be.
So, there we have it, our list of the finest casino movies of the eighties. Some funny, some tragic, some doomed, some uplifting – all from the greatest decade of all.

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