Casino and gambling scenes have always been an iconic part of American cinematography. It is not hard to recall at least a few classics and iconic movies that involve scenes set in casinos off the top of our head: Rain Man (1988), Casino (1995), The Hangover (2009) and others.
The most remembered and tense casino scenes usually involve poker and blackjack because they allow the cinematographer to use many shots and pay more attention to the dynamics between characters.
However, scenes with slot machines can be as exciting and memorable as any other casino scene. They can be in the function of a number of storytelling and plot devices: the result of a slot machine game can set up a plot and drive the narrative, as, for instance, in What Happens in Vegas, where the main characters win at a slot game after getting married while drunk.
Slot machine scenes can also have the function of building a character, the atmosphere and provide additional tension. They build tension by often involving closeups of the rotating number and images, as well as closeups of the player’s face. If the player is victorious, the positive emotional charge of the scene gives the viewer the warm and hopeful feeling that their luck might change for the better with just one coin and a simple movement of the hand. Who wouldn’t want that?
Here are some of the most memorable slot machine scenes ever seen on screen.
Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
The main plot of the third installment of Steven Spielberg’s Ocean’s franchise is set right in a Las Vegas casino. We love and remember the movie because of its tense action scenes and its renowned cast that includes George Clooney, Andy García, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, and many others.
After his friend Reuben Tishkoff got coerced into signing a deal with investor and casino mogul Willy Bank (played by Al Pacino) and suffered a heart attack, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) decides to avenge him. With his partner Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), he decides to sabotage the opening of the Bank’s new hotel-casino. The plan involves badly influencing a food critic’s review of the hotel’s restaurant and hacking the casino’s system in order for the Bank to lose a lot of money.
We can find the iconic slot scene at the end of the movie when Rusty sets up a slot machine at the Las Vegas airport for the win. He leaves the seat at the machine to the food critic, who has previously undeservedly been treated horribly by Ocean and his associates. As we see Rusty walking away in the foreground, we can hear the slot machine dinging and the food critic winning 11 million dollars.
The exciting atmosphere of the movie will surely make you want to try your luck at slots yourself, and here you can find some of the most interesting slot games.
Race To Witch Mountain (2009)
Casino and gambling scenes often involve dark and serious, sometimes also shady, male characters. Also, they are often part of thrillers and action movies. But who says that a casino scene cannot involve teenagers as part of a science fiction adventure movie?
Namely, the main characters of the movie Race To Witch Mountain involve Jack Bruno, an ex mob driver played by Dwayne Johnson, and, well, two not exactly teenagers but teenage humans looking aliens – Sara and Seth. The two aliens offer 15,000 dollars to drive them to an unknown destination, which turns out to be a mountain near Las Vegas where their spaceship crashed. On their way, they are being hunted by a secret Defense Department unit who wants to seize their spaceship and their powers. While trying to run away from the government agents, Sara and Seth protect themselves by using special powers such as telekinesis and telepathy.
The unforgettable slot machine scene involves the protagonists getting trapped in a casino. In order to escape from the agents, Sara makes all the slot machines show a winning combination. As all the players in the room hit a jackpot, the resulting chaos allows Sara, Seth and Bruno to run away.
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
Even though it is not part of a movie but a TV series, the following slot machine scene is more than worthwhile mentioning. It is part of the third season of the cult series Twin Peaks directed by David Lynch, it involves one of the most beloved TV series characters – special agent Dale Cooper, and the scene itself is very long.
A casino, the One-Eyed Jacks, has a prominent role in the first and second season, being the site of many dark intrigues. However, the slot scene in the 2017 season, also famous under the name Mr. Jackpots, has an altogether different tone. Special agent Dale Cooper has just returned from the Black Lodge. As he wanders around like a naive child not knowing who he is and where is he supposed to go, he ends up in a casino. He watches a man playing slots and decides to imitate him. He then follows a magical light that appears above slot machines, and each time he plays, he hits a mega-jackpot and exclaims “Hellooo-ooo!”. He even reveals which machine to use to a poor old lady who calls him Mr. Jackpots. Later in the series, we find out she got rich and changed her life for the better.
In the later episodes, we get to know the casino manager, played by Jim Belushi, his brother and their hostesses. The manager gets suspicious and mad, but after a series of events, the two become friends, and the manager even helps agent Cooper in his actions.
These are some of the best slot machine movie scenes we picked for you, we hope you enjoyed.