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The Gambler (1974)

R | | Crime, Drama | 2 October 1974 (USA)
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


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 worse for him because he loses all his cash each time and acts like it doesn't matter. But when his Girlfriend decides to leave him, his Mom decides to disown him, and the Mob wants to kill him, Axel decides to make a big score to win big and pay off everyone to stay alive and keep his dignity and 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:

2 October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El jugador  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In real life when a gambler owes a huge amount of money to a bookie he is not allowed to bet with any other bookie until his debt outstanding is either paid in full or substantially paid down. It is also the case that a bookie would never cover a bet to anyone who owes a large amount of money and would spread the word around town to "freeze" or "shut them out". See more »


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


Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 22 December 2014 (2014) See more »


Una furtiva lagrima
from the opera L'elisir d'amore"
by Gaetano Donizetti
Sung by Enrico Caruso
Courtesy of RCA Records
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User Reviews

Am I the only one who understands the underlying theme?
8 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just about everyone who has posted a reply about the shocking ending was simply left too much in the dark to realize that it tied together a different root demise of Axel Freed than gambling.

Just as a compulsive behavior leads to compulsive gambling, the root evil of Axel Freed was that he had a masochist behavior. When you look a little closer at all the scenes where he acts out this kind of behavior, it makes more sense. The problem lies in that the casual observer is only looking at the problem gambling aspect. There is more to this guy than just that.

The ways he handles his relationships with his mother, girlfriend, grandfather and feelings at the end towards the basketball player ALL indicate there is masochist behavior involved. These are more than just selfish acts. There is some actual self hatred going on as well. Without giving away the final scene, this scene further accentuates the point by sending himself into that situation. The final scene was a conscious act, not something resulting from random chance or risk.

So despite the movie having some gambling theme to it, this really wasn't necessarily about gambling addiction. It was about the nature of Axel Freed. If the movie had no gambling scenes in it at all this point would be more readily identifiable.

The only real oddity in the final scene is the placement of the final scene. If this scene was placed somewhere in the middle of the movie, the underlying theme of his masochist pattern of behavior would have been more easily identified with. Because the movie started with a gambling scene, we all assumed it was just about gambling. Wrong!

Its a tricky concept to catch the first time. Watch this movie again with this concept in mind and the movie will make more sense.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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