7.3/10
34,465
146 user 70 critic

Hard Eight (1996)

Sydney (original title)
Trailer
1:43 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.
2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Magnolia (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore
Boogie Nights (1997)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The story of a young man's adventures in the California pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds
Inherent Vice (2014)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
The Master (2012)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams
Drama | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Five people's lives that are curiously intertwined happen to all be at a diner at the same time. An old man (Hall) gives advice to a young man (Baltz) about his cheating wife and best ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Kirk Baltz, Philip Baker Hall, Scott Coffey
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Baker Hall ... Sydney
John C. Reilly ... John
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Clementine
Samuel L. Jackson ... Jimmy
F. William Parker ... Hostage
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Young Craps Player (as Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Nathanael Cooper Nathanael Cooper ... Restroom Attendant
Wynn White Wynn White ... Waitress
Robert Ridgely ... Keno Bar Manager
Kathleen Campbell Kathleen Campbell ... Keno Girl
Michael J. Rowe Michael J. Rowe ... Pit Boss
Peter D'Allesandro Peter D'Allesandro ... Bartender
Steve Blane Steve Blane ... Stickman
Xaleese Xaleese ... Cocktail Waitress
Melora Walters ... Jimmy's Girl
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Eight See more »

Filming Locations:

Sparks, Nevada, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,486, 2 March 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$222,559
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay was originally written in 1992, according to Paul Thomas Anderson, in about two weeks. See more »

Goofs

At 30. The crap table that Sydney walks by players cheering but the cover (lid) and count slip on top. If it were a real game there would be no cover See more »

Quotes

Sydney: [John has called Sydney to his hotel room asking for help. Sydney knocks, John answers from behind the closed door] John?
Sydney: ...Sid?
Sydney: Yeah. Open up.
John Finnegan: ...everything cool?
Sydney: What? Yeah, everything's cool. Are you alright?
John Finnegan: I'm fine.
Sydney: You gonna open the door?
John Finnegan: I said on the phone, you know... it's kinda screwed up.
Sydney: Yeah, so? Open the door, let's see what's going on.
John Finnegan: ...you promise you'll help me?
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Outlaw Queen (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Country's Cool
Written by Jim Jacobsen (uncredited)
Courtesy OGM/Old Georg Music, Hollywood, California
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Very intimate and compelling - a splendid debut for PT Anderson
20 June 2007 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

Though he is best known for two ambitious ensemble pieces such as Boogie Nights and Magnolia, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson was first noticed thanks to a low-key, unpretentious character study, a gem called Sydney.

The film takes its title from the main character, a lonely elder man played by Philip Baker Hall. At a diner he runs into John (John C. Reilly), a poor fella who has just lost all his money. Sydney buys him coffee, and after a little chat he persuades him to come to Reno. Once there, they manage to get a free room and under Sydney's tutelage John quickly becomes a successful gambler. All's well until he falls in love with Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a waitress and part-time prostitute, and trouble ensues with a gangster named Jimmy, meaning Sydney will have to come up with something extreme to save his protégé.

For a first-time director Anderson shows great skills and confidence: even though he doesn't do much but follow four characters, he frames each shot to perfection and proves he is every bit as good as Scorsese at staging tracking shots (a thing he perfected on his next two features). But style doesn't really matter here: the important thing is that the audience cares for the story, and this essentially happens courtesy of sublime dialogue and great acting.

Anderson fought really hard to keep the movie's original title (and partially failed, which is why the film is known as Hard Eight in some countries), and the reason is clear from the beginning: the picture rests entirely on Hall's shoulders, and he carries it admirably. His performance is nuanced and genuine, and he manages to ensnare the viewer even when we are not sure what his motives are (and once they are revealed, it is not that important). Reilly is equally good, in a turn that opened his way to becoming one of the most reliable character actors in Hollywood, and the same intensity emerges from Paltrow and Jackson, the latter in particular adding extra dramatic flesh to what could have been a rehash of his more famous roles (Pulp Fiction etc.). Even Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has a brief but memorable role as a cocky gambler, gets his opportunity to shine, showing beyond any doubt that Anderson has a great eye for casting. He also knows how to write: the dialogue flows freely and seamlessly between the players, spawning some of the most affecting, realistic conversations ever heard in a movie, although the director can't resist the temptation to insert a couple of in-jokes as well (in one scene, Hall mentions two characters he wound up playing in Boogie Nights and Magnolia).

Overall, a very good film, and a must-see for PT Anderson fans: like many other directors who rose to fame in the '90s (Tarantino, Rodriguez, Bryan Singer) he proved right from the start what he was capable of, and has never disappointed the audience since that.


43 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 146 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

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