The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
by Garon Cockrell
Gambling greats: Our top 10 casino movies
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By Garon Cockrell
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Dec. 6, 2012 5:16 p.m.

The end of the year is fast approaching which of course means all Hollywood is racing to make the December deadline for next year’s Academy Award nominations. While the new films are waiting to be judged, we’re taking a look back at years gone by and, with some expert help from our friends at the site CasinoMagasinet, are bringing you the top 10 casino themed movies ever.
So if, once the turkey has been eaten and the new gadgets have lost their initial novelty, you want to get away from the happy family gathering for a while, why not take a look at the list below and spend some fun hours with these casino classics.
10: Often overlooked because of its one ‘ unforgivable’ flaw – it’s set in RENO!!! – a great homage to the heyday of film noir, HARD EIGHT may be dark and depressing, but it’s genuine take on the casino world is delivered magnificently through stellar performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
9: Again not a classic casino film, but a welcome change after stuffy family meetings and hours in ugly, scratchy Christmas sweaters: SHOWGIRLS might just turn your (Christmas) day around.
8: If it’s family fun you are looking for this Christmas, VEGAS VACATION, National Lampoon’s fourth installment of the Griswold family’s life on film, ticks all the boxes. Just make sure you don’t ask for the rock-paper-scissors table, next time you’re in a casino!
7: For all of those that think (or know someone who thinks) ZZ Top’s recording of VIVA LAS VEGAS is actually the original version, the Elvis Presley classic by the same name is mandatory viewing. Motor racing, gambling, 1960ies pool girls and the city’s unofficial anthem make for perfect entertainment.
6: No list of casino films is complete without “the one in which the math geek thinks he can beat the bank” and 21 is the one we picked. Based on a true story, this MIT vs. Las Vegas bout is a fight you don’t want to miss!
5: A feast for the visually inclined cineaste takes our No. 5 spot. Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python fame, takes you on a truly strange ride in his brilliantly dark comedy FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. It’s got Johnny Depp and every single drug known to man, so what’s not to like?
4: If the overused phrase “an instant classic” can be genuinely attributed to any comedy of the last decade, THE HANGOVER is it! Every guy’s dream bachelor party turning into everybody’s nightmare and then miraculously back to something you can’t wait to go and do yourself…Simply genius!
3: If you put Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro into a box and shake it, the result is usually one to watch, but never more so than in this collaboration: In CASINO from 1995 Scorsese gives a grim but highly realistic account of Las Vegas in its early days. But don’t despair; Sharon Stone is in it to light the dark!
2: Rarely is there as little dispute amongst movie lovers as to what the best film of any genre is as when it comes to poker movies. ROUNDERS is the best film about poker – full stop. Now if you are watching this with your wife you might have to endure some comments about how Matt Damon looks a lot hotter now than he did then, but both Damon’s and Edward Norton’s performances are superb and the script by Brian Koppelman and David Levien is unrivaled.
1: Now we have been fighting quite a bit about which films make our list and which position they should claim between numbers 10 and 2. But the top spot was never disputed. Every single film buff here agrees that it can be no other than OCEAN’S ELEVEN! Note though that we are not talking about George Clooney and his merry man! It’s Mr. Sinatra, Martin, Lawford, Davis jr., Bishop & co. we’ve lost our hearts to! It features the Who’s Who of 1960s Hollywood with Shirley MacLaine and Angie Dickinson for eye candy. A classic if ever there was one!
As much as we are sure that these 10 movies will see you safely through the holidays, should you need extra helpings, there’s always acclaimed and highly entertaining NBC television series LAS VEGAS starring the enigmatic James Caan and fashion-model-turned-actor Josh Duhamel. There are 105 episodes spread over 5 seasons waiting to be watched. So by the time you are done with that the children will be back at school and the in-laws back out of town. So from all of us here as well as our friends at CasinoMagasinet, have a very merry Christmas!

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