Roulette is one of the most popular casino games, and it enjoys a long history. If you want a brief primer on the game, click here. Often associated with class and prestige, the roulette game traces its origins back to 18th century France. In modern days, the game has taken a new dimension as online roulette has introduced millions to the game in virtual form. Meaning "little wheel," in French, historians have traced the wheel back to Paris in the late 1700s. Enjoying a long association with popular culture, roulette was discussed in the book "La Roulette, ou le Jour" and is often featured in modern films and television shows. If anything is going to focus on a casino (such as the television series Vegas, or in Robert Ulrich's 70s series "Vega$," it's today's movies.
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With the allure of casinos and the charm of the roulette table, it's no surprise that the "little wheel" has made its appearance in films, television shows and literature. Whether it's the online roulette game or a world renown casino in Las Vegas, the roulette table holds a magnetism all its own. Here is a list of ten movies (some with trailers) that have featured roulette in moments that were important or pivotal to the film's plot, minus the spoilers for those who've yet to see the films.
The winner of three Academy Awards including "Best Picture" for 1942, Casablanca stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid. A romantic comedy, the film takes place during World War II, and features Bogart as Rick Blaine, who lives in Casablanca, Morocco. Owner of "Rick's Cafe," the roulette scene is known as one of the film's most crucial moments.
2. Support Your Local GunfighterFilmed in 1971, this comic westerns stars James Garner, Suzanne Pleshette, Harry Morgan, Jack Elam and John Dehner. The film features Garner as "Latigo Smith," a con artist who loses all his money at the roulette wheel. Smith then devises a scheme where he attempts to recover his earnings. The roulette wheel is central to the film as it sets the plot and is featured in the film's end.
3. The StingReleased on December 25, 1973 and starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw and Charles Durning, "The Sting" was nominated for ten Oscar awards and one seven including Best Picture. Featuring con artists and the game, there is a crucial scene that involves a roulette spin and $3,000.
4. Run, Lola, RunThis August 1988 German film stars Franka Potente and Mortiz Bleibtreu and was released by Sony Pictures Classics. The plot is based on Bleibtreu who plays Manni, a criminal who loses a crime boss' 100,000 marks. Potente plays "Lola," Manni's girlfriend. There is a pivotal scene in the film where Lola tries her luck at a roulette table.
5. Indecent Proposal
Released on April 7, 1993, "Indecent Proposal" brought plenty of controversy to the forefront. The film, starring Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Robert Redford," takes place in Las Vegas and features Harrelson and Moore's characters as they lose their entire savings playing roulette. Robert Redford plays a billionaire who has an "indecent proposal" for the young and now penniless couple.
6. Ocean's Eleven TrilogyThe Ocean's Eleven trilogy began on August 10, 1960 when "Rat Pack" members joined forces to tell the story of a group of veterans that decided to spend their time robbing five Las Vegas casinos. The film stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Richard Conte, Joey Bishop, Henry Silva, Buddy Lester, Richard Benedict, Norman Fell, and had appearances by Shirley Maclaine, Red Skelton and Angie Dickinson.
The film received a fresh look on December 7, 2011, when George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin and Carl Reiner. The remake was a huge success and two more films followed: Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.
As the films take place in casinos, there are plenty of roulette tables to be seen, but in Ocean's Thirteen, the roulette table plays an important role to the film's plot.
7. Play it to the BoneA sports comedy released on December 25, 1999, "Play it to the Bone" stars Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Lolita Davidovich, Tom Sizemore, Lucy Liu, Robert Wagner, Tony Curtis, Wesley Snipes, Mike Tyson, Kevin Costner, Rod Stewart, Jennifer Tilly, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and Drew Carey. The film focuses on Harrelson and Banderas as they portray boxers who bet their money on a roulette wheel.
8. Casino Royale
With a 1967 hit and a remake in 2006, this James Bond classic has an important moment that includes a roulette wheel.
9. CroupierAs a croupier is another name for a dealer and works for casinos, it is no surprise that the film, "Croupier" features a roulette wheel. Filmed in 1998, the film stars Clive Owen, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee, Kate Hardie and Nicholas Ball.
10. Rush Hour 2Rush Hour 2 is an action comedy that was released on August 3, 2001as a sequel to the first film. Starring Jackie Chan, Christ Tucker, John Lone, Alan King, Roselyn Sanchez, Harris Yulin and Zhang Ziyi. The roulette wheel plays an important role in the film, and is crucial to the end scene.
If you enjoyed this article, you might want to read our similar feature about poker movies.
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