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The Gambler (1974)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  October 1974 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,133 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 16 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 of all this he cannot stop gambling.

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Title: The Gambler (1974)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Axel Freed
...
Hips
...
Morris Carnovsky ...
A.R. Lowenthal
Jacqueline Brookes ...
Naomi Freed
...
Carmine
Carmine Caridi ...
Jimmy
...
One
Steven Keats ...
Howie
London Lee ...
Monkey
...
Las Vegas Gambler
...
Bank Officer
Carl W. Crudup ...
Spencer
...
Bernie
...
Cowboy
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Storyline

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 of all this he cannot stop gambling.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El jugador  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Caan hated the director and said he never work with him again. See more »

Quotes

Hips: Listen, I'm gonna tell you something I never told a customer before. Personally, I never made a bet in my life. You know why? Because I've observed firsthand what with seeing the different kinds of people that are addicted to gambling - what we would call degenerates. I've noticed there's one thing that makes all of them the same. You know what that is?
Axel Freed: Yes. They're all looking to lose.
Hips: You mean you know that!
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Soundtracks

Una furtiva lagrima
Sung by Enrico Caruso
Courtesy RCA Records
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User Reviews

A Meditation On Losing
6 September 2008 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Sometimes he wins; but mostly he loses. Gambling is an addiction for Axel Freed (James Caan), a professor of English literature and lover of classical music. The film is set in New York City.

The object of the obsession can be almost anything on which a bet is placed: dice, cards, a basketball game, a college football match. It really doesn't matter. Axel just can't keep from making bets. He's like two different people. In a classroom setting, he is logical and intelligent. But when betting, he throws away the logic in favor of risk taking. In these situations he seems to lack the normal psychological "brakes" that could be applied to his destructive over-betting. In his own words: "I like the threat of losing". And always in the background are the thugs and the con men that lord over Axel, when he borrows to gamble, but can't pay his debt.

Some of Axel's classroom lectures have real thematic value. The ideas relate both to him, and incidentally to some modern-day politicians. For example, a person "... claims an idea is true because he wants it to be true, because he says it's true. And the issue isn't whether he's right, but whether he has the will to believe he's right, no matter how many proofs there are that say he's wrong". Axel continues: "D.H. Lawrence says Americans fear new experience more than they fear anything. They are the world's greatest dodgers, because they dodge their own very selves". Heavy stuff.

Despite a disappointing ending, "The Gambler" is an interesting character study of a personality type that is all too prevalent in modern society. The film's color cinematography is generally dark, in keeping with the film's theme. Overall acting is fine. Paul Sorvino gives an especially convincing performance, as does James Caan. The plot proceeds rather slowly.

Mostly, the film has terrific thematic value. It encourages the viewer to pause and reflect, to ponder, to question one's own motivations. That is a trait lacking in many current movies.


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$44,000 in 1974 is worth $208,530.81 today. foxboro27
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