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Top Casino Themed Films & What Inspired Their Scripts

By Ally Sinyard · May 31, 2019

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The impressive popularity of gambling films in the past few decades is directly proportional with the resounding success achieved by the gambling industry itself. Many script writers decided to take advantage of people's fascination for gambling and used the casino theme when writing their masterpieces.  As a result, there are dozens of mesmerizing Hollywood scripts that revolve around casinos one way or the other. Many of them managed to achieve noteworthy box-office figures through the memorable characters they created. They were also big hits thanks to the eye-catching locations they were filmed in and the quality of their action-packed scripts that almost always add a surprising psychological twist to the storyline.  Inspired by real-life events and crayoning a romanticized picture of the risky gaming universe, here are a few of the best casino themed films you need to watch.

21

There are millions of passionate card game players who also happen to share a passion for gambling-themed movies worldwide. Needless to say, an American heist drama movie inspired by the true story of the famous MIT Blackjack Team was set up for success from the day of its release.  

The script was written by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb and it followed he more or less embellished story as told by author Ben Mezrich in his book “Bringing Down the House”. Viewers appreciate true stories as they can more easily identify with the characters, which gave “21” a clear advantage over similar movies. However, what the writers behind this script managed to do was turn an otherwise captivating math story into a heist film. The cast was made of lots of of young and attractive actors such as Kate Bosworth, Jim Sturgess, and Aaron Yoo. They portrayed the smart MIT students in their attempt to outrun Kevin Spacey's character (an MIT professor). With the help of mind-boggling card counting techniques as well as a series of covert signalling methods, the students considerably boost their winning odds. This helps them make huge profits at various casinos across the US. The fantastic team beats the house almost 10 years in a row.

The movie closely follows the story of Ben, a math major at MIT who is accepted into Harvard Medical School. However, he is unable to cover the huge tuition of $300,000. He decides to apply for a prestigious scholarship. Facing fierce competition, he is told by the scholarship director that the scholarship will be given to the student who manages to sweep him off his feet. In parallel, Micky Rosa, Ben's MIT professor challenges him to solve the Monty Hall Problem. Ben proves his genius and solves the problem. Micky issues an invitation for Ben to join his MIT Blackjack Team. Eventually, Ben's passion and complete devotion to blackjack for real money makes him neglect the scholarship competition. This also pushes him further away from his friends and the script captures this estrangement brilliantly.

Molly's Gamemolly's game, gambling film

Aaron Sorkin's love for writing has begun in his childhood, and you may be familiar with some of his Broadway plays or TV series: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Few Good Men, the West Wing, or the Newsroom.  His feature movie debut was in 2017 with a crime drama called “Molly's Game”. His script attracted lots of good reviews from the critics and brought him his third Academy Award nomination. He was most praised for his fast dialogues and lengthy monologues. Most of his characters are seen walking and talking a lot, with plenty of long tracking shots long featuring several characters engaged in a dialogue. There are no cuts in his shots and characters keep entering and leaving the conversation while moving around the set.

Sorkin based this movie on the memoir of Molly Bloom, ex skiing champion who made the switch to the underground poker scene after suffering a debilitating accident. The actress that plays Molly portrays her as a cocky, cobra-like Molly. She walks viewers through the addictive, profitable, and outsdide the law universe while she gradually turns into the princess of organizing high-roller games. Sorkin did a terrific job at writing Molly and making her rush feel almost palpable through the screen. There are also some tear-jerker characters like Bill Camp, the hopeless gambler we can drowning in slow-mo. 

Other Casino Themed Films Not to Be Missed

Casino, the Ocean's Eleven series, Maverick, Let It Ride, Croupier, or The Cooler are additional casino-themed titles with excellent script writing you should add to your watch list. Now that you know what inspired some of the best script writers to come up with these brilliant gambling-themed scripts, you could use some of these ideas to write your own box-office hit.