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.
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.