7.2/10
3,631
41 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

Learn more

More Like This 

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
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
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
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 (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
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
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A psychotic killer gets in the good graces of his aging invalid employer, and worms his way into the affection of her beautiful daughter, with unpleasant results for all.

Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: Albert Finney, Susan Hampshire, Mona Washbourne
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
Morgan! (1966)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After his wife leaves him for his former best friend, a failed London artist begins his descent into madness in trying to win her back.

Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: David Warner, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Stephens
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
Slither (1973)
Comedy | Thriller | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

While searching for a small fortune of embezzled money, an ex-con, a small-time bandleader, his doting wife, and a kooky drifter find themselves being followed. Their chase takes them to ... See full summary »

Director: Howard Zieff
Stars: James Caan, Peter Boyle, Sally Kellerman
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

2 men drag-racing across the U.S., in a '55 Chevy. Dennis Wilson's the mechanic, James Taylor's the driver.

Director: Monte Hellman
Stars: James Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird
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
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

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Karel Reisz's first American film. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode #44.2 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Classic 70s film about addiction
17 April 2002 | by shotguntomSee all my reviews

The theme of addiction is a favourite area for film makers and "The Gambler" stands as the best and most intelligent film about the addiction of gambling. The fact that it is a little known or seen film is perhaps to do with its intellectual script which, with references to Dostoyevsky, may be too pretentious for some. However, rather than being a cleched film about a good man's decent into the hell of addiction this is a film about a selfish, egotistical man, from a good background, who happily wades deeper and deeper into his obsession.

The film's title pretty much sums up the story, with the character of Axel Freed, played by James Caan, beginning the film as a compulsive gambler but sinking further and further into his habit as the film goes on. He does this despite his undoubted intelligence - he is a college lecturer - and despite the pleading of his mother, rich grandfather and friends.

Freed is by no means a likeable character. Like most addicts all he cares about is his next fix and will happily ask his mother for tens of thousands of dollars to repay an outstanding debt. No one, including his girlfriend, played by Lauren Hutton, and his college students, remain untouched by his addiction, a decision which comes back to haunt him in the film's climax.

Many people have been left puzzled by the film's ending which is cryptic and unresolved. However this merely stands as a metaphor for addiction generally, that it can never be fully cured or ever totally go away. Axel is, however, obviously disgusted with himself and the effect his gambling has had on those around him and his late night journey into the all-black neighbourhood is his way of seeking retribution for his sins.

"The Gambler" provides James Caan with, alongside Michael Mann's "Thief", the best role of his career. The character of Axel Freed provides him with a range of emotions, especially in the way he treats those he cares about, as his gambling slowly takes precedence over everything else. Anyone who thinks James Caan's career began and ended with "The Godfather" should definitely see "The Gambler", as this proves he is one of the top actors of his generation and that he can play more than just the tough guy roles he is too often saddled with.

The film is brilliantly directed by Karel Reisz as not a single scene rings false despite a 111 minute running time. After directing the classic "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" in Britain, Reisz relocated to America, but, unfortunately, "The Gambler" represents the only time he reached those heights again.


19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 41 user reviews »

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

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed