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Casinos in the Movies – More than a Bonding experience

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There is something very glamorous about casinos, not least for their portrayal in popular culture.

There have been a number of films, songs and of course books which have all featured casinos and playing casino games.


Casino Royale

One of the most famous portrayals of casinos has to be in the James Bond books and films “ most notably ”Casino Royale”, which is set in Monte Carlo. Casino Royale was Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel and would eventually lead to another 11 Bond novels by Fleming himself as well as two short story novels and many other James Bond continuation novels. Casino Royale has also been made into two films, as well as a television adaptation, cementing its place in popular culture. The novel’s plot centres on James Bond’s attempts to play against and bankrupt Le Chiffre in a game of Baccarat.

The first film adaptation was a comedy spin-off staring David Niven and once again centres on a Baccarat game. However, it was when the film was remade in 2006 that it really gained in popularity, only this time it was Texas Hold’ em poker that was played rather than baccarat. What’s more, the Monte Carlo casino also features as a location in ”Never Say Never Again” and ”Goldeneye”.


Ocean’s 11

Another famous depiction of casinos in popular culture is ”Ocean’s 11” alongside the later sequels ”Ocean’s 12” and ”Ocean’s 13”. The original ”Ocean’s 11” is a heist film made in 1960 and stars Frank Sinatra and four other members of the Rat Pack: Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop. The film centres on a series of Las Vegas casino robberies. The group is recruited by Danny Ocean to plan and execute a daring New Year’s Eve raid on five casinos.

The film was remade in 2001 and stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. This time the gang plans to rob the MGM Grand, the Bellagio and The Mirage. In fact the film was so popular that two more sequels were made; ”Ocean’s 12” and ”Ocean’s 13”.

Monte Carlo also features in the song the Man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo and was probably inspired by the exploits of Charles Wells who “broke the bank” in Monte Carlo several times.



The 1995 Martin Scorsese film teamed greats Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone in the powerful and violent story of a Jewish-American top gambling handicapper who is called by the Mob to oversee the day-to-day operations at the fictional Tangiers casino in Las Vegas.

The story is said to have been based on the life of Frank Rosenthal, the man who ran the Stardust, Fremont and the Hacienda casinos in the ’70s and ’80s.



Probably the funniest movie set within the walls of a Casino (and yes, we’re including “Honeymoon in Vegas” in that assessment) , the Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn comedy tells of two Los Angeles-based twenty-something’s who decide to head to Vegas to chase some “babies”  – i.e hot women.  They do meet some women, and they do come across some slot machine output, but as it it a ‘comedy’ you can pretty much guarantee that everything goes NOT according to plan.


The Hangover

On the eve of his wedding, Doug (Justin Bartha) is heading to Las Vegas with friends Phil the dentist (Bradley Cooper), Stu the whipped (Ed Helms), and Alan the insane (Zach Galifianakis) for his bachelor party, planning a night of drunken debauchery. The next morning, Phil, Stu, and Alan awaken to find their suite trashed, no memory of the previous night’s events, and Doug missing. Staggering around town, the trio attempt to piece together their rowdy celebration using the clues left behind: a stolen police car, an infant, a hospital admittance wristband, and Mike Tyson’s pet tiger. Finding themselves in big trouble with an Asian gambler (Ken Jeong) and Doug’s confused fiancée (Sasha Barrese), the guys scramble to locate their pal before their extensive path of destruction is discovered by their high-maintenance loved ones.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, “The Hangover” is one of the most successful movies in recent times set in Vegas and the Casino landscape.


Vegas Vacation

While not the funniest of the ”Vacation ”franchise, ”Vegas ”returned the idea to the original tone to a larger extent than the previous films.

Of course, that depends on how much you like the character of Cousin Eddie (Quaid), because when the Griswolds hit the road for Las Vegas, it takes them right by the inbred relatives former nuclear test site trailer home and he becomes Clark’s (Chase) point man, the Laurel to his Hardy, and the laughs aren’t all left to Chase’s smiling, goofy, good-natured but terminally unlucky Dad.

It’s less about the trip and more about the destination this time as the family hits America’s playground, all of them going off in their own directions and setting up a series of humourous episodes. Rusty falls in with the local mob, Audrey teams up with Eddie’s daughter Vickie to become a popular stripper, Ellen (D’Angelo) finds herself wooed by Wayne Newton and Clark manages to blow the family fortune falling into a deeper gambling problem hole from which Eddie offers to help him out.

Good, ineffectual laughs, but for some reason I find the line by the Hoover damn tour guide among the funniest in movie history – ‘Welcome to the damn tour, take all the damn pictures you want, now are there any damn questions?’


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