7.2/10
3,801
42 user 23 critic

The Gambler (1974)

Axel Freed is a literature professor. He has the gambling vice. When he has lost all of 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.

Director:

Karel Reisz

Writer:

James Toback
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Axel Freed
Paul Sorvino ... Hips
Lauren Hutton ... Billie
Morris Carnovsky ... A.R. Lowenthal
Jacqueline Brookes ... Naomi Freed
Burt Young ... Carmine
Carmine Caridi ... Jimmy
Vic Tayback ... One
Steven Keats Steven Keats ... Howie
London Lee London Lee ... Monkey
M. Emmet Walsh ... Las Vegas Gambler
James Woods ... Bank Officer
Carl W. Crudup ... Spencer
Allan Rich ... Bernie
Stuart Margolin ... Cowboy
Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

This was based on a true story. About a man (Caan) who discovers that his ex-wife has disappeared along with their children. It seems that her new boyfriend works for some criminals. After ... See full summary »

Director: James Caan
Stars: James Caan, Jill Eikenberry, Robert Viharo
Fingers (1978)
Crime | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A dysfunctional young man is pulled between loyalties to his Italian mob-connected loan shark father and his mentally disturbed Jewish concert pianist mother.

Director: James Toback
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tisa Farrow, Jim Brown
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Vietnam veteran Ray Hicks gets conned into helping his buddy John Converse smuggle some heroin, only to wind up on the lam with John's wife when the deal goes sour.

Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty
Thief (1981)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who has other plans for him.

Director: Michael Mann
Stars: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson
The Gambler III (2014)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Literature professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation, is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman
Straight Time (1978)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

After being released on parole, a career burglar assaults his former probation officer, returns to a life of crime, and goes on the run.

Directors: Ulu Grosbard, Dustin Hoffman
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Theresa Russell, Gary Busey
The Gambler (TV Movie 1980)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Brady Hawkes, The Gambler, receives a letter from his son indicating he needs help. This sends Brady to the rescue. Along the way Brady meets up with Billy Montana, a young man who thinks ... See full summary »

Director: Dick Lowry
Stars: Kenny Rogers, Christine Belford, Bruce Boxleitner
Blue Collar (1978)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When three workers try to steal from the local union, they discover the corruption of the union instead and decide to blackmail them.

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

When a casual gambler befriends a professional one, he begins to mirror his life, sending both deeper into the sleazy gambling world where the stakes keep getting bigger.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An ambitious reporter gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator's assassination which leads to a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the world's headlines.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Mike Locke, who works for a private security firm affiliated with the C.I.A., is betrayed by his partner and left apparently crippled for life.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: James Caan, Robert Duvall, Arthur Hill
Night Moves (1975)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Los Angeles private investigator Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter. Moseby tracks the daughter down, only to stumble upon something much more intriguing and sinister.

Director: Arthur Penn
Stars: Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, Edward Binns
Edit

Storyline

Axel Freed, a college professor and very successful at his job, is addicted to gambling, who wins big, but loses it all just as fast. He borrowed from his girlfriend, his wealthy mother, and last but not least a loan shark. It just gets worse for him because he can't stop. 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

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

James Caan hated Karel Reisz and said he would never work with him again. See more »

Quotes

Hips: The only thing that's standing between your skull and a baseball bat is my word.
See more »


Soundtracks

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
See more »

User Reviews

A Meditation On Losing
6 September 2008 | by LechuguillaSee 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.


10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 42 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 February 1975 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gambler See more »

Filming Locations:

Tucson, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed