Six Key Ingredients Every Great Casino Movie Needs

Everyone loves a great casino movie. We love watching our plucky underdog heroes and heroines go up against the odds to beat the house, or to beat a sneering villain who thinks that they are untouchable. These are the kinds of stories that Hollywood keeps returning to, and that we will always keep watching. They have been around for as long as films have been made, but what are the key ingredients that make a great casino movie?

Here are the most important things that no good casino movie can do without, with some key examples to point you towards some high-stakes stylish classics.

A Great Ensemble Cast...
First things first, if you want a great casino movie, then you are going to need a cast to fill it with. Let’s start by thinking about the casino caper movie. Traditionally, you are going to need an ensemble where each of the characters has their own special skills that they bring to the table. Take Ocean’s Eleven, for example. You need a ringleader that is so impossibly cool that you would never doubt that anyone would follow them on an incredibly risky job, and there’s no one better for that than George Clooney. Add in Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and Don Cheadle, and you’ve got a cool cast for the ages. This formula is so successful that there’s another Ocean’s Eleven remake on the way. We love a team!

...Or A Great Lone Hero
Of course, casino movies are not always about someone putting a crew together. Some of the very best ones are about one person putting everything on the line for the chance that they might come out on top. Often, these characters will be played by some of the most handsome and beautiful screen stars of the time. There’s Oscar Isaac in The Card Counter, Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game, and every James Bond from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. Their charisma needs to burn through the screen as they sit down at the card table.

A High Stakes Game
The casino is obviously an important part of any great film in this genre, but arguably more important is the game that our hero is going to be playing. There have been great movies about blackjack and roulette, but has there ever been any game that has ever looked as good on screen as poker? It’s got everything. The incredibly high stakes. The slow build-up as the players get a sense of each other. The question of who’s bluffing, and by how much. Poker has endured as one of the most popular games for a reason, and if watching it on screen has given you the urge to play some yourself, why not head online? Online gaming has boomed in recent years because it is so accessible, and you can find an amazing range of poker games and more when you look for online casino live games. PlayLive offers great games in a secure environment to help you play confidently.

A Villain You Love To Hate
We’ve talked about how important it is for movies set in casinos to have a hero that you can root for, but what about the villain? In real life, you know that most people are playing against the house, but movies offer the fun of having a bad guy that you absolutely despise and can’t wait to see fall on their face. There’s Andy Garcia in Ocean’s Eleven or Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. There’s John Malkovich hamming it up in Rounders, or Joe Pesci scaring the absolute life out of everyone he meets in Casino. A great hero is nothing without a great villain.

A Great Sense Of Style
There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, when we watch films set in casinos, we want to see movie stars dressed to the nines. Amazing costumes are a crucial element of any great gambling movie, whether it’s a classic tux, or the incredible outfits that were designed for Ocean’s 8. And it’s not just about the clothes, either. Style should be delivered by the film’s soundtrack too, and all the great casino movies have a fantastic score. David Arnold’s Ocean’s Eleven score may be the pinnacle, but it’s also always great to hear classic Vegas tunes when a film is set in Sin City. Which brings us to our final point.

An Amazing Setting
Generally speaking, when we watch a film set in a casino, we want to be transported to somewhere exotic. Casino Royale’s poker showdown takes place in Montenegro, and there is a spectacular late sequence in Venice, but almost all the great casino movies are about Las Vegas. There is something so special about seeing that city on the silver screen, full of glitz and glamour that you know you probably wouldn’t find if you visited it in person!

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