The Gambler

  • 1974
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Uneven but interesting drama documenting the anger, frustration, and self-destruction of a gambler. Caan is good as a college professor so deeply in debt to his bookies that he must borrow money from his mother, Brookes, in order to keep Sorvino from killing him. Caan runs off to Las Vegas with girlfriend Hutton and wins a bundle at the tables, but his...read more

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Uneven but interesting drama documenting the anger, frustration, and self-destruction of a gambler. Caan is good as a college professor so deeply in debt to his bookies that he must borrow money from his mother, Brookes, in order to keep Sorvino from killing him. Caan runs off to Las Vegas

with girlfriend Hutton and wins a bundle at the tables, but his desire to lose is so strong that he squanders it all on dumb sports bets. (One of the flaws of the film is that writer Toback says that all gamblers want to lose, an oversimplified analysis of a complex problem.) We now see that we

are in the presence of what George C. Scott called Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER (1961), a "loser." Caan comes very close to being killed but gets out of it by convincing a student of his to shave points in a basketball game that is getting heavy play from the bettors. Suddenly, the picture takes a

left turn, and Caan inexplicably winds up in a tough black area where he picks up a hooker and then gets beaten up by the woman's pimp. This sequence has almost nothing to do with the picture save to show that Caan is on a downward spiral that can only end in tragedy. Good acting from all

concerned and an excellent job by Carnovsky, as Caan's rich grandfather who refuses to lend Caan any money. Young, a pal of Caan's in real life, is excellent as a quietly brutal collector for a loan shark. Woods is seen in a small role, and several sports announcers play themselves, including

Lakers' broadcaster Hearn and Schaap. Lee, the Catskill comic, proves that he should stay there and forget about acting. This could have been a great movie had the filmmakers stuck with the story instead of piling on the pretentiousness.

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  • Released: 1974
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Uneven but interesting drama documenting the anger, frustration, and self-destruction of a gambler. Caan is good as a college professor so deeply in debt to his bookies that he must borrow money from his mother, Brookes, in order to keep Sorvino from killi… (more)

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