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The Gambler


Price: $32.57 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Editorial Reviews

"James Caan portrays a compulsive gambler who can't quit or win."

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Lauren Hutton, Morris Carnovsky, Jacqueline Brookes
  • Directors: Karel Reisz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: May 14, 2002
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000062UHC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,000 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Gambler" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE on February 18, 2004
Format: DVD
A neglected and underrated masterpiece, presenting one of the most convincing and thorough psychological studies in all cinema. James Caan, in what may well be his best-ever performance, portrays a compulsive gambler with an unusually acute awareness of his own motivations. The 'back story', from which we learn how his family background helps feed his obsession, is subtly and convincingly portrayed. The whole is a tragedy, laced with grim humor.
The score uses Mahler's music to great effect, the direction is tight and closely focused throughout and the final scene can only be described as perfection.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By LGwriter on June 11, 2002
Format: DVD
One of the most uncompromising American dramas of the 70s, this takes a penetrating look at the addictive mindset of the gambler as no film did before that and none since as well. The writing by James Toback is superb and the direction by Karel Reisz is just as good. James Caan, in one of his best roles, plays a professor of literature--an ivory tower guy who drives himself right to the edge. The story implies that the possible reason for this is his patrician upbringing; his mother's a successful and respected physician and his uncle, an extremely successful businessman. And Axel Freed--Caan's character--needs much more than all the myriad assumptions that a blue-blooded background provides.
Even his girlfriend, Mickey (broadly played by Lauren Hutton), is upscale. Caan deftly and convincingly portrays someone who takes advantage of his class and its privileges and at the same time obsessively needs the "juice" of danger. The ending is a strong finish to a great movie; Axel tests the waters of what could very likely bring the ultimate danger. The real question is, Does he want that or not?
It's interesting to see both James Woods and M. Emmett Walsh in small and early roles here, as well as some 70s stalwarts: Paul Sorvino, Vic Tayback, and Steven Keats. The mix of the highbrow and the street is a great one. All actors do a terrific job.
Recommended
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mezz on December 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
The so called film experts that pan this movie just dont understand the life of a gambler. This movie is an excellent study of a compulsive gambler and his road to self destruction. James Caan is outstanding as the tragic Axel Freed and the supporting cast is even better. The emotional roller coaster ride of a compulsive degenerate gambler is shown from the ultimate high of winning to the rock bottom low of losing and is portrayed superbly by Caan with a stellar performance.
This movie was extremely well written,directed and acted and is flawless in its presentation from beginning to the end. The climatic ending where Axel takes the ultimate gamble risking his life is brilliant. There has never been a more realistic look at a lost soul gambler and the effect it has on friends and family. This is a rare gem of a movie that was way ahead of its time. A must see for anyone that appreciates a true to life gritty story, great performances and not some Hollywood big budget nonsense that is routinely served up today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pitta on February 18, 2009
Format: DVD
One of the best movies about gambling and gambling addiction ever made. Cann is as intense as Sonny Corleone but he's not doubling down in his family's casino. When he loses, we fill it. When people mention movies made in the 1970s this should be at the top of the list. If you don't know what a 70s ending is then watch this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on December 30, 2008
Format: DVD
James Caan is Axel Freed, an English professor in New York City. He also has a serious gambling problem. As the movie opens, Axel has racked up $44,000 in gambling debts from a bookie/loan shark named Hips (Paul Sorvino). Fortunately, Axel's family is extremely wealthy, so he manages to convince his mother to give him the money. He assures her that this is the end of the gambling. However, as soon as he gets the money, he picks up his most recent girlfriend (Lauren Hutton) and heads to Las Vegas.

"The Gambler" is a rather good examination of how gambling can affect someone's life, as well as the lives of people around them. Caan's character nicely exemplifies the psychology behind how many people develop gambling problems. He explains that he's afraid of winning, not of losing. In his class, he discusses a piece by William Carlos Williams which criticizes George Washington for being risk-averse - it's easy to draw the parallels to Axel. Caan does a nice job here, with some relatively subtle acting. He received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama - the only major award nomination the movie received. The script by James Toback is loosely based on the novella by Dostoevsky (Axel is named Alexei in the novella). Unfortunately, the last 20 minutes of "The Gambler" simply aren't very believable, as Axel's life spins further out of control and he becomes more desperate. This latter section of the movie undercuts much of what came before, making this a 3 star instead of 4 star movie.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hillary on June 27, 2002
Format: DVD
Veteran legendary actor James Caan was at his peak 10 years into his on-screen career in this James Toback classic. Director Karel Reisz gets one of Caan's most convincing performances to date, as well as terrific support from the rest of this well recognized ensemble cast.

Caan plays Axel Freed, an English Lit professor, who comes from a well-to-do family. Although Axel has success in his career and a beautiful, but detached girlfriend played by70s covergirl Lauren Hutton, he's looking for something far LESS out of life. He is a hopeless gambling junkie. Caan is so terrific and tragic as a man who can't control himself in the face of any kind of risky wager. He'll take the worst odds, never quit while he's ahead, and certainly NEVER knows when to fold 'em. Axel seems to be happiest as the loser ironically, because he never keeps his winnings, just wagering again until the profit is lost.

Paul Sorvino, another veteran talent is in a very early role here as "Hips", Axel's bookie. Hips has done just about everything he can do to convince Axel of his self-destructive habit, but to no avail. In a terrific scene, Axel gets a good look at his future, as he is sent to collect a debt from a deadbeat with an enforcer played by real life buddy, Burt Young, more famous for being "Rocky" brother-in-law. Axel watches as the deadbeat has his furnishings demolished by an abusive Young, and gets a solid working over culminating in some broken bones. Does this spell the future for Axel? You have to see for yourself.

James Caan has never looked so good, or played such a gut-wrenching role. The scene where he's sitting in his bathtub listening to a game he's got a crucial bet on, causes you to actually feel his desperation.
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