Hollywood’s fascination with gambling is a fact. The fascination may have started from the Strip’s history – as the rise of a sleepy desert town in the middle of nowhere to the premiere gambling city of the world.
The essence of Las Vegas strip – gambling, organized crime, people down on their luck or high on luck, these are key components of a Hollywood blockbuster movie! There are several gambling-related movies done by Hollywood producers over the years but let us concentrate on movies that directly relate to the game of blackjack.
The 1983 movie starred Kevin Costner as Will and Andra Millina, as Stacy. Kevin teaches Stacy to count card as being what she is, young and naïve, has the edge to win at blackjack without anyone being suspicious. However, those bad casino bosses took to taking down Stacy by setting her up with cheating dealers. Will got killed in the process, making Stacy mad and determined enough to put up and train a blackjack team to take a huge chunk of money from those casino bosses.
The 1988 movie starred two of Hollywood’s biggest stars – Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Hoffman played the savant autistic brother who had the talent for counting cards in blackjack. Cruise played Charlie Babbitt while Hoffman played Raymond Babbitt. Charlie only got to know of his older brother Raymond after the death of their father. The Babbitts travelled across the USA, with a $3 million inheritance in the balance. All went well in the end but their blackjack card-counting days were over.
The Last Casino
The plot of this 2004 Canadian film is about a group of MIT students who beat casinos in the 1990s. Starring Charles Martin Smith, Kris Lemche and Katherine Isabelle, the main character Mickey Rosa set up to find and train talented students to card count so he could pay his personal debts. Of course the winning spree did not last long as the card-counting team had finally busted the casino security systems.
This 2004 documentary traced the attempts of MIT students blackjack team to get rich by playing blackjack in casinos across the United States. This documentary film also showed the ways and means of casinos to thwart their modus. The film though failed to show sufficient mathematical details in explaining blackjack card counting.
The Hot Shoe
David Layton directed this 2004 documentary film that showed the history of blackjack card counting, reviewing the mathematical aspects of the game, and key pointers for winning. Layton interviewed blackjack greats such as Ian Andersen, Edward Thorp, Stanford Wong, Max Rubin, Olaf Vancura and more. Layton learned to card count and used $5,000 of the film’s budget to try his luck on the blackjack table.
21 was a 2008 movie that starred Kevin Spacey, as Mickey Rosa, the professor who trained a group of talented MIT students on card counting and other blackjack tricks. Ben Campbell as Jim Sturgess, joined the MIT Blackjack team to pay for his medical school tuition fees. The movie production was quite lavish with cameo from some of Hollywood’s big stars such as Lawrence Fishburne. Sturgess’ tale of his colorful experience came into a fruitful end as he was awarded the lone scholarship in medical school.
Could there be another Hollywood blackjack movie in the offing?