IMDb > California Split (1974)
California Split
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California Split (1974) More at IMDbPro »

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California Split -- A young magazine writer and a professional gambler embark on a series of betting adventures. GeorgeSegal and Elliott Gould are both excellent as compulsive gamblers and several real gamesmen play themselves. Ann Prentiss plays Barbara Miller.


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7.3/10   3,639 votes »
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Down 27% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Joseph Walsh (written by)
View company contact information for California Split on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
7 August 1974 (USA) See more »
California Split ... being the story of two bet-on-anything guys who happily discover something called a "winning streak."
A down on his luck gambler links up with free spirit Elliot Gould at first to have some fun on, but... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Altman in his 1970s prime; a gambler-movie classic See more (31 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

George Segal ... Bill Denny

Elliott Gould ... Charlie Waters
Ann Prentiss ... Barbara Miller
Gwen Welles ... Susan Peters
Edward Walsh ... Lew
Joseph Walsh ... Sparkie

Bert Remsen ... Helen Brown
Barbara London ... Lady on the Bus
Barbara Ruick ... Reno Barmaid
Jay Fletcher ... Robber

Jeff Goldblum ... Lloyd Harris

Barbara Colby ... Receptionist
Vincent Palmieri ... First Bartender (as Vince Palmieri)
Alyce Passman ... Go-Go Girl
Joanne Strauss ... Mother

Jack Riley ... Second Bartender
Sierra Bandit ... Woman at Bar

John Considine ... Man at Bar
Eugene Troobnick ... Harvey
Richard Kennedy ... Used Car Salesman
John Winston ... Tenor
Bill Duffy ... Kenny
Michael Greene ... Reno Dealer (as Mike Greene)
Tom Signorelli ... Nugie
Sharon Compton ... Nugie's Wife
Arnold Herzstein ... California Club Poker Player
Alvin Weissman ... California Club Poker Player
Marc Cavell ... California Club Poker Player
Mickey Fox ... California Club Poker Player
Carolyn Lohmann ... California Club Poker Player
'Amarillo Slim' Preston ... Reno Poker Player
Harry Drackett ... Reno Poker Player
Ted Say ... Reno Poker Player
Winston Lee ... Reno Poker Player
Thomas Hal Phillips ... Reno Poker Player
A.J. Hood ... Reno Poker Player
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Kane Hodder ... Reno Poker Player
James Dan Calvert ... Nugie's Son (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Altman 
Writing credits
Joseph Walsh (written by)

Produced by
Robert Altman .... producer
Robert Eggenweiler .... associate producer
Leonard Goldberg .... executive producer
Aaron Spelling .... executive producer
Joseph Walsh .... producer
Cinematography by
Paul Lohmann (director of photography)
Film Editing by
O. Nicholas Brown 
Lou Lombardo 
Casting by
Scott Bushnell 
Art Direction by
Leon Ericksen 
Set Decoration by
Sam J. Jones  (as Sam Jones)
Makeup Department
Joe DiBella .... makeup artist (as Joe Di Bella)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Alan Rudolph .... second assistant director
Tommy Thompson .... assistant director
Art Department
Jerry Graham .... property master
Paolo Rocco Innamorato .... first assistant art director (uncredited)
Bob McLing .... property master (uncredited)
Sound Department
Randy Kelley .... assistant sound editor
Chris McLaughlin .... sound crew
Richard Portman .... dubbing mixer
Kay Rose .... sound editor
James E. Webb .... sound mixer (as Jim Webb)
George Wycoff .... sound crew
Jacob Hochman .... cable person (uncredited)
Bill Marky .... sound technician (uncredited)
John Vincent .... sound (uncredited)
Larry Holt .... stunts (uncredited)
Gene LeBell .... stunts (uncredited)
Carey Loftin .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Dick Colean .... assistant camera (as Richard Colean)
Tom Doherty .... grip
Ron Frantzvog .... assistant camera
Randy Glass .... electrical gaffer
Edmond L. Koons .... camera operator (as Edward Koons)
Eddie Lara .... grip
Harry Rez .... grip
Sidney Ray Baldwin .... unit photographer (uncredited)
Fred Chaparro .... lamp operator (uncredited)
Al Goelz .... generator operator (uncredited)
J. Michael Marlett .... best boy (uncredited)
John Stadler .... lamp operator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Hugh McFarland .... costumer
Editorial Department
Stephen Altman .... editorial assistant (as Stephen W. Altman)
Dennis M. Hill .... assistant editor (as Dennis Hill)
Tony Lombardo .... assistant editor
Marion Segal .... editorial assistant
Music Department
Phyllis Shotwell .... music player
Phyllis Shotwell .... singer
Transportation Department
Fritz Braden .... driver (uncredited)
Gene Clinesmith .... driver (uncredited)
James Davis .... driver (uncredited)
Jim Jimenez .... driver (uncredited)
James Marett .... driver (uncredited)
Craig Pinkard .... transportation co-captain (uncredited)
James Thornsberry .... transportation captain (uncredited)
Other crew
Jac Cashin .... assistant to producers (as Jac Cachin)
Carole Gister .... script supervisor
Regina Gruss .... unit publicist
Kelly Marshall .... production coordinator
Dan Perri .... title designer
Sue Barton .... company secretary (uncredited)
Noreen Beasley .... assistant: Dan Perri (uncredited)
Elaine Di Bello Bradish .... production secretary (uncredited)
Mark Eggenweiler .... production assistant (uncredited)
Don Everman .... first aid (uncredited)
Christina Gladwin .... company secretary (uncredited)
Mark Martin .... location auditor (uncredited)
Vince Martinez .... location auditor (uncredited)
Wanda Walsh .... caterer (uncredited)
Linn Zuckerman .... craft service (uncredited)
Barbara Ruick .... dedicatee (as Barbara)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
108 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

According to 'Movies on TV and Videocassette', "the [film's 'California Split'] title is western-slang jargon for cut-throat high-low poker".See more »
Continuity: Some of the balls hanging from Charlie's sombrero keep changing position throughout the scene.See more »
Bill Denny:Everybody's named Barbara.See more »
Movie Connections:
References The Invisible Man (1933)See more »
I've Got The World on a StringSee more »


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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
Altman in his 1970s prime; a gambler-movie classic, 17 April 2007
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

California Split provides a couple of stellar performances through Robert Altman's direction. George Segal, who is an actor I'm not too familiar with (I never watched the TV show 'Just Shoot Me' or his other 70s movies), but here is very believable as the down-on-his-luck Bill Denny, a sometimes magazine writer who can be spotted at the track or in a poker room more often than in his office. He's befriended by Charlie Waters (Elliot Gould), a character who is at first seemingly just that, a real 'character' kind of guy. Gould is terrific at playing Charlie as a fast-talking', smooth-dealing kind of clever player, who sometimes makes bets as arbitrary as the names of the seven dwarfs. He, like Bill, makes bets and usually wins, but then still tries to talk down how much the mugger who robs him in the parking lot should take. He and Bill sort of go aimlessly around through most of the first half of the film, with the only sort of conflict coming up- as opposed to a driving force in the plot- being that Bill owes a lot of money to his bookie, which he has to earn up in Reno. By the end, however, there's something about the gambler's life that is left on a bittersweet note.

The two lead males are contrasted against actresses Ann Prentiss and Gwen Welles, who are not really elaborated on much as characters aside from being possible hustlers or prostitutes of some sort. There's even a touching, ironic scene where Welles tries to seduce Segal, but to no avail on either side. Even in the quiet scenes with the main characters, Altman and writer Walsh are adept to make these characters seem always believable, even in their seedy, desperate mannerisms and leaps of thought. They know they mindset and lifestyle of the gambler (both, according to the press notes, were affluent with not only card games but the nature of the gambling man and how he goes about his business). Sometimes the aimless quality about the first half is very funny, Gould's performance especially as the opposite of Segal's straight-laced and high-strung character. Other times there's a scene or two that seem unneeded or a little oddly put in, like an inexplicable scene where a transvestite comes to call at Charlie's place to proposition the ladies, I think, only to get swindled again by the Charlie and Bill. Such scenes though are meant for simple character lift, albeit not totally satisfying when compared to other scenes.

But to see an Altman film, any Altman film, is to see a piece of what Altman at the 2006 Oscars called "one very long body of work." In viewing California Split, I'm reminded as well of how substance, in a matter of speaking, trumps style. It's not that Altman doesn't have some kind of distinct visual style, in general I mean (it becomes, truth be told, more distinct in Nashville and 3 Women). But in several during his career like MASH or Prairie Home Companion, his style doesn't go for being anything more than that of a straightforward, practically objective storyteller, getting the multi-character scenes and layered spots of dialog and conversation without getting in the way. It's almost ironic for the sake of what's going on; his style evokes Howard Hawks's knack of storytelling in the visual sense, of being the unobtrusive sort. But it's in the substance that's different, because Altman isn't really interested in the conventions of stories. He's after character, mood, the little moments in the midst of conversations. He's a great director of actors and of setting, if nothing else.

For the most part, California Split is splendid at telling more about the nature of the mind-set, of the attitude and near existentialism of gambling than any specific story; there aren't any real contrivances holding these characters to the necessities of the script. And the ending gives a few really good questions to ponder: what does winning really mean after going through so much as a loser? Is there a catharsis, or one worthwhile? Altman handles this mood and these characters like a pro, with the end result being one of the most fascinating, unconventional and entertaining films made about the small, maligned world of gamblers.

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should be part of the Criterion Collection mjkh
Full version CasaK
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Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops pinbackwiggly
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