Grab the Chips: 10 Heist Films that Hit the House

casino-movie

Hollywood actor and star of the Wolf of Wall Street Jonah Hill is currently making a film, based on a true story, about two hackers who discovered a bug in a particular make of video poker game. The canny pair worked out a combination of moves that caused the machine to pay out huge jackpots. The pair managed to win nearly $1 million before they were rumbled in 2009.

An article about the crime was published in Wired magazine and the rights were sold to movie makers Andrew Mogel and Jared Paul who saw potential in the story. Jonah Hill agreed to executive produce the feature and the – as yet unnamed – work is in progress.

Once again, a casino is the target for the criminal mind. The combination of large volumes of ready money, and a seemingly open environment, make casinos an attractive target for villains. Add in the glamour of the strip, the big players, the larger than life personalities, and you have all the ingredients for a great movie.

Here are ten films – in no particular order – where the casino has been the target.

#1. 5 Against The House

This classic 1955 film noir stars Jack Finney, Guy Madison and Kim Novak. After getting mistakenly tangled in a casino heist, the protagonists decide to give it a go with unsurprising consequences. Martin Scorsese said the critically-acclaimed film specifically influenced his 1995 film Casino

#2. 3,000 Miles to Graceland

Starring Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner, this violent, comedy, heist got burned by the critics on its release in 2001. The story revolves around a Las Vegas casino robbery. The gang – dressed as Elvis impersonators – pull off the heist but then turn on each other.

#3. The Sting

Technically, the casino is not the victim in this classic 1973 film starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw. It’s actually an old school wire sports book that is the location for the ultimate con the takes Shaw’s bad guy – Doyle Lonnegan – to the cleaners. The seven Oscar winning film is still a classic.

#4. Croupier

Mike Hodges dark and unsettling story of the London underworld is a taut thriller and a stand out role for (then unknown) actor Clive Owen. Owen plays a croupier in a London casino who is seduced and led to the dark side by the stunning Jani – played by Alex Kingston. She encourages him to be the inside man for a planned heist. Gripping and brilliant stuff.

#5. Rain Man

The story of the Babbitt brothers relationship, starring selfish yuppie Tom Cruise and autistic savant Dustin Hoffman, has its crowning moment when Hoffman’s character reveals his card counting skills at the blackjack table. Funny stuff and a classic piece of cinema.

#6. The Good Thief

The action heads to Europe in Neil Jordan’s critically acclaimed tale of an aging gambler with one last heist on his mind. Nick Nolte stars as Bob Montagnet masterminding the ultimate sleight of hand heist on the French Riviera. Great performances all round

#7. 21

The true story of the MIT blackjack club who counted cards to wreak havoc in the casinos of Las Vegas was a huge commercial success, despite muted reviews from the critics. Starring Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne, the film’s soundtrack is the real star of the show.

#8, 9, 10 You guessed it: Oceans 11, 12, and 13

Stylish, exuberant, and at least one film too long in the franchise, the Oceans series stars Hollywood’s finest line up of testosterone and is fun for both the audience and the cast. Arguably better than the 1960 original, Stephen Soderbergh’s casting guaranteed this film box office success. Fortunately, it hits the spot on its own merits.

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