Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.
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3,836 ( 214)
2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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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
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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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When good luck is a long shot, you have to hedge your bets. 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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title "Hard Eight" is a craps term. Rolling a "hard eight" is rolling two fours (as opposed to rolling a six and two or a three and a five). Betting in a hard eight pays off at higher odds. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

[first lines]
Sydney: Hey. Hey!
John: [raises his head] What?
Sydney: You want a cup of coffee? You want a cigarette?
John: [groggily] What?
Sydney: I'm a guy that's offering to give you a cigarette... buy you a cup of coffee.
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Connections

References Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Is Free
By Frederick Knight (as F. Knight) / Bettye Crutcher (as B. Crutcher)
Performed by Brenton Wood
Courtesy of Hi Records
Under License From EMI Capitol Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

A Calm and Collected Character Study
19 January 2004 | by FranktheRabbitSee all my reviews

Hard Eight (1996/Paul Thomas Anderson) ***1/2 out of ****

The camera opens to a diner called "Jack's Coffee Shop". A semi is pulling out of the parking lot. After it pulls away, two people are revealed. A young man sitting by the door with his face to the ground, and an older man who is walking towards him. Even though we can't see his face, we know he is old, just by the way he moves. He asks the young man if he would like some coffee and cigarettes. And this is how Paul Thomas Anderson's first film begins.

"Hard Eight" is about a down and out loser named John (John C. Reilly), who sits outside a diner, until he is encountered by a mysterious old man named Sydney (Philip Baker Hall). Sydney offers him $50, and a lesson in gambling. Before to long, they are in Reno, making lots of money. Then two people get in the way of their friendship: Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), a hooker/waitress; and Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson), a mischievous security guard who seems to be hiding something.

I never thought that Paul Thomas Anderson could make such a grounded film with substance. His usual films are flashy ensembles, and they move fast. But "Hard Eight" is a different story. It is a slow paced Film Noir, that is both quiet and observant. The cinematography is drab, and the direction is tranquil. Philip Baker Hall and Paltrow turn in good performances. But it is Jackson who really shines. The twist could have been over done, but instead, it is handled nicely and effectively.

"Hard Eight" is by far one of the most interesting character studies of the 90's. I like this cool side of Anderson, and I wish he would use it more often than his usual over the top formula (although I like both). This is no classic, but I found it worth buying.

-30-


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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 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,486, 2 March 1997

Gross USA:

$222,559

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$222,559
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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