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Hard Eight (1996)

Sydney (original title)
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Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Young Craps Player (as Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Nathanael Cooper ...
Restroom Attendant
Wynn White ...
Robert Ridgely ...
Keno Bar Manager
Kathleen Campbell ...
Keno Girl
Michael J. Rowe ...
Pit Boss
Peter D'Allesandro ...
Steve Blane ...
Xaleese ...
Cocktail Waitress
Jimmy's Girl


John has lost all his money. He sits outside a diner in the desert when Sydney happens along, buys him coffee, then takes him to Reno and shows him how to get a free room without losing much money. Under Sydney's fatherly tutelage, John becomes a successful small-time professional gambler, and all is well, until he falls for Clementine, a cocktail waitress and sometimes hooker. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If you stay in the game long enough, you'll see everything, win everything, and lose everything. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, some violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hard Eight  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$69,486 (USA) (28 February 1997)


$142,356 (USA) (7 March 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Paul Thomas Anderson wanted to shoot the film in the anamorphic format, and even mentioned this in the screenplay. Budget constraints ruled out renting anamorphic lenses, so instead the film was shot with cheaper spherical lenses in Super 35, which Anderson hated. All of his subsequent films have been shot in anamorphic, until The Master (2012). See more »


When Sydney and Clementine are drinking coffee in the diner, Clementine's cigarette switches from her right to her left hand between shots. See more »


Sydney: [to Jimmy] I have the money to give you right now, in this moment. I will give you all that I have. Maybe before you were gonna kill me. Maybe. I don't know. I know John, and I love him like he was my own child. But I can tell you this: I don't want to die. I killed his father. I can tell you what it was. This is not an excuse. I'm not begging for clemency. All that matters, I do not wish to sacrifice my life for John's well-being. But I will sacrifice this money for mine because you have asked ...
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References Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) See more »


Christmas Medley
(The First Noel / O Little Town of Bethlehem / Silent Night)
Written by traditional / Phillips Brooks and Lewis H. Redner / Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr
Performed by Frankie Avalon
Courtesy of Chancellor Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
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User Reviews

Promising debut from Anderson
22 February 1999 | by (Brooklyn, NY) – See all my reviews

This first film from Paul Thomas Anderson shows the promise he would later fulfill with BOOGIE NIGHTS. The writing here is as sharp as it was in the later film, but it must be said as a director, he sometimes lets scenes go on too long (ironic that BOOGIE NIGHTS, which is a longer film, is also a tighter one). The main connection between both films is Anderson's obvious affection for his characters. Also the relationship between Sydney and John doesn't turn out the way you'd expect. And Anderson is to be commended for avoiding melodrama.

Philip Baker Hall is one of those actors who you may not know by name, but when you see him you instinctively feel he's right for the part, no matter how small. This is one of his rare leading roles, and he's perfect, showing the character's success and also his loneliness, without sentimentalizing it. John C. Reilly is properly eager and naive as John. Samuel L. Jackson is dependable here, and Gwyneth Paltrow proves she doesn't need a British accent to give a good performance. She and Jackson should also be commended for backing Anderson when he had problems with the studio.

18 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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