The Gambler

The Gambler  The gambler is a 1974 American drama about a literature professor who portrays an upstanding citizen’s image caught in the clutches of a severe gambling addiction which threatens to destroy his life. His high rolling bets land him in trouble and pits him against his worst enemies.

It is directed by Karel Weiz and is written by James Toback. The film stars James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton.

The Main Story

Axel Freed ( James Caan ) is an English Professor at Harvard University who has a gambling addiction that spirals out of control.

He continues to gamble until finally, he has loan sharks knocking down his door for debts he cannot pay. He is out of options and borrows $44,000 from his mother. However, he doesn’t use it to pay the loan sharks, but instead goes to Vegas and gambles it all on basketball bets.

In desperation, he lures one of his students a star college basketball player to shave points off his next game. The student agrees to the scheme as Axel offered him a large sum of money. The game goes according to plan and Axel wins enough money to pay the loan sharks.

The Ending

In the end, Axel admits that he could have placed bets on sure winners, but that would have been no fun. He liked the dangerous side of gambling and even did reckless things like not paying a prostitute for her services to get the pimp to come after him. This gave him an adrenaline rush.

The Gambler is the story of a gambling addict’s impasse. It leaves viewers with valuable lessons and many thought-provoking reflections as it highlights the destructive nature of not knowing when to quit.

There was a remake of The Gambler in 2014 which starred Mark Wahlberg.

Owning Mahowny

Owning Mahowny  Owning Mahowny is a Canadian film about the effects of gambling addiction. It was directed by Richard Kwietniowski and released in 2003. The cast includes Minnie Driver, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Hurt and Maury Chaykin.

It is based on a true story about a Bank Employee who embezzled more than $10 million from a Toronto Bank to feed his gambling addiction.

The Main Story

In the early 80s, Dan Mohowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a trusted employee at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Over time he is promoted to Branch Manager, which means he has access to large sums of money.

His Boss trusts him and has no idea that Mahowny is a compulsive gambler. However, Mahowny was gambling every week at Atlantic City casinos with the bank’s money. The casino management considered him to be a High Roller and wined and dined him.

Like all gambling addiction, the amounts started getting bigger and bigger to recoup his losses. However, the bank did not find out about the theft until the Toronto police began to investigate Mahowny’s bookie Frank (Maury Chaykin).

Mahowney was subsequently arrested and prosecuted in Canada by the Crown Attorney. He received a six-year prison sentence. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also sued the Atlantic City casinos to recover the funds Mahowney spent. There was an out of court settlement for an undisclosed sum.

The Ending

Dan Mahowney served his full six years prison sentence and has not gambled since his release. He is now married with three children and works as a Financial Consultant.

The difference between this movie and other gambling-related movies is that Owning Mahoney concentrated on the gambling addiction and not on the glitz and glamour of the casino life.

However, it turned out to be a box office flop as the movie only made $1 million but cost $10 million to produce.

Even Money

Even Money  Even Money is a 2006 American film directed by Mark Rydell. It stars Nick Cannon, Forest Whitaker, Kim Basinger, Kelsey Grammer, Danny DeVito, Tim Roth, Jay Mohr, Carla Gugino, and Ray Liotta. It was also released in theatres on May 18, 2007.

Even money has an elite cast and concerns three strangers whose lives intertwine through their gambling addiction. They are a novelist, a former stage magician and an older brother of a college basketball star.

The Main Story

Even Money is a crime movie highlighting how addiction to gambling leads to destruction and bad choices.

Carolyn Carver is a published author who gambles away her family’s life savings while her husband and daughter think she is working on a new book. Along comes Walter, a struggling wannabee magician with a gambling problem who befriends Carolyn. Clyde Snow, the third character, is the brother of a college basketball star and hugely in debt to gamblers and turns to his younger brother for assistance in the form of shaving points at games.

As the story unfolds, Carolyn’s husband becomes frustrated with her continual absences and ultimately catches her gambling and asks for a divorce. Walter gets information about the rigged basketball game and places everything he has on the outcome and convinces Carolyn to do the same, which will lead to their demise. Unbeknown to them, Clyde tells his brother his gambling debt is settled, which is not the case; however, Clyde’s life is threatened by Victor an abusive and violent criminal, hence ensuring his brother does not lose the game.

The Ending

The game’s outcome has devastating consequences as happens to many gamblers searching for that next big win. Stakes get higher, and they lose everything, including their families, which happens to Carolyn. Even money also has a twist that adds that extra feeling of anticipation.