There have been dozens of great gambling scenes in the movies over the years. But most, such as Casino Royale or The Cincinnati Kid or The Sting involve players, usually of the male, suit wearing, whisky swilling, cigar smoking variety, duking it out across a poker table. Now poker is a fine game and the above examples are likewise fine movies. However, if there is one thing that truly symbolizes the style and mystique of the casino, it is the roulette wheel.
Roulette was invented more than 300 years ago, yet today, people still love to play online roulette games. Live games are especially popular, as when you strip it bare, the game itself is quite bland. The magic is in that walnut or mahogany polished wheel and the velvet coated table. In other words, it’s all about the theatre, and that’s why when used in the movies, a roulette wheel can sometimes seem more like a cast member than a mere prop. Check out these very different examples of roulette playing a vital role in movie plots.
Tried 22 tonight? 80 years since its release, Casablanca is full of quotable moments, but none capture Rick’s complex personality better than the scene at the roulette wheel. After fixing it for the young Bulgarian to win the two thousand he needs to buy exit visas for himself and his wife with his own rigged roulette wheel, Bogart’s character quietly tells the man to “cash it in and don’t come back.” When the fortunate player’s wife tries to thank him, Rick gently removes her arms from round his neck and delivers another killer line. “Just a lucky guy.”
Bad Times at the El Royale
This film noir was released to minimal fanfare and bombed at the box office in 2018, despite its stellar ensemble cast that included Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo and many others. Yet if you’ve not seen it, it is well worth seeking out. It’s dark, it’s mind-bending and the roulette wheel located in the hotel’s reception is a constant presence in the periphery of your vision. When its starring moment comes, let’s just say it gives a whole new interpretation to Russian roulette.
Diamonds are Forever
We can’t discuss gambling in movies without throwing in a Bond title. Of course, 007 is better known for his prowess at cards, be it baccarat (Dr No), poker (Casio Royale) or blackjack (Licence to Kill). But in Diamonds are Forever, he demonstrated that he could even take on the Devil’s Wheel and win. He also used a roulette wheel it as one of the more imaginative murder weapons of the franchise.
The Devil’s wheel indeed. In this 1993 drama, Robert Redford’s charming character could almost have sprouted horns and a tail. He only got the opportunity to tempt young Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson because they had put their life savings on red instead of black. Now if only Humphrey Bogart had still been around in the 1990s, this would never have been allowed to happen!