The Gambler (1974)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  October 1974 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,579 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 17 critic

Axel Freed is a literature professor. He has the gambling vice. When he has lost all his money, he borrows from his girlfriend, then his mother and finally some bad guys that chase him. Despite all of this he cannot stop gambling.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Morris Carnovsky ...
A.R. Lowenthal
Jacqueline Brookes ...
Naomi Freed
Carmine Caridi ...
Steven Keats ...
London Lee ...
Las Vegas Gambler
Bank Officer
Carl W. Crudup ...


Axel Freed a College Professor and very successful at his job is a gambling junkie who wins big but loses it all at the same time. He borrowed from his girlfriend, his wealthy mother and last but not least a Loan Shark from the Mob. It just gets worst for him because he loses all his cash each time and act likes it doesn't matter. Up until his Girlfriend decides to leave him, his Mom decides to disown him and the Mob wants to kill him Axel decided to get out pay up and stop before he is dead goes bust he decides to make a big score to win big and pay off everyone to stay alive and keep his dignity to come out ahead. Written by Wesley Benton

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For $10,000 they break your arms. For $20,000 they break your legs. Axel Freed owes $44,000.


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El jugador  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to James Toback, before the screenplay was accepted at Paramount and was making the rounds with actors, Peter Boyle was first interested in playing the lead. Robert De Niro lobbied hard for the role, to the point where De Niro started to dress like the writer. Toback pressured the director to meet with De Niro. After meeting him, Reisz said that he would not and could not consider De Niro for the role, and if Toback kept insisting he would not be allowed to collaborate on the film further. See more »


Axel Freed: I'm not going to lose it. I'm going to gamble it.
See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #22.56 (2014) See more »


Symphony No. 1 in D
by Gustav Mahler (as Mahler)
Performed by Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (as The Concertgebouw Orchestra)
Conducted by Bernard Haitink (as Haitink)
Courtesy of Philips Records
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User Reviews

A true depiction of gambling.
18 May 2001 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

I found this film very, very good and being a gambler myself could relate to the central character. James Caan is brilliant as always. The film keeps simmering on until a quite dramatic ending where Axel goes to seek thrills that even gambling cannot provide him with.

A fine, realist film for all, but gamblers, quite bad gamblers at that, will find to be particularly interesting.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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