Gambling is one of film’s most fascinating subjects, and casinos are one of its most stimulating settings. We’ve seen scores of Hollywood’s leading men and ladies win and lose in these colorful, competitive environs. Films like Casino and Casino Royale continue to reverberate through our culture, even years after they left the big screen. Source: NeedPix
We’re not here to talk about those gambling movie classics today. Instead, we’ll look at 5 lesser-known gambling flicks from the early 2000s. Take a chance on one of these for your next movie night, and you might count yourself lucky.
Poolhall Junkies (2002)
Poolhall Junkies isn’t a great movie, but it’s a lot better than its 2002 failure at the box office would suggest. A twisted tale of billiards hustling, PH has earned a cult following with a tight tale of betrayal, delicious suspense, and Christopher Walken at his Walken-iest. Even 17 years after its initial flop (Poolhall Junkies failed to make back even 1/4 of its $4 million budget), there are still those who swear by this movie.
High Roller – The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
Stu Ungar may have been the best Texas Hold’em player ever to glare across a table. He was also one of the most neurotic. Ungar blew his tens of millions in earnings on horse races and various recreational drugs. Ponder the connection between genius and compulsion in this high stakes biopic that’s still highly enjoyable.
Owning Mahowny (2003)
You may have a normal relationship with gambling, playing slot reel games online and enjoying the wins and losses that luck brings your way. This may be a balanced way to approach gambling, but we tend to enjoy movies about people who get in over their head. Owning Mahowny sees Philip Seymour Hoffman embezzle and gamble away millions in bank funds. This real life story earned a rave from Roger Ebert but doesn’t get mentioned very often today. Source: Pixabay
This comic depiction of a sports betting scheme gone awry isn’t the best movie on this list, but it is considered to be a strong representation of the process and stakes of sports bookmaking. If you want to see a gambling flick that doesn’t linger in the casino, look no further than this forgotten gem.
The Good Thief (2002)
Who doesn’t love a gambling heist movie? Nick Nolte plays an aging gambler and thief, addicted to heroin, who is contemplating “one last job”. Nolte’s performance is stellar, doing more than its share of heavy lifting in what would otherwise be a forgettable flick. We get to see several different sides and settings of gambling in this one, making it a unique feature on this short list.
Suspense, intrigue, deception, and high stakes are pillars in the construction of good drama. It only makes sense, therefore, that casinos and gambling would be the stuff of great cinema. We assume here that you’ve seen the big classics, and hope that next time around you’ll enjoy one of these forgotten gems from the early part of the last decade.