7.3/10
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41 user 22 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
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ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »

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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
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 February 1975 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Spieler ohne Skrupel 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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The stock footage shot of the passenger jet flying against a sunset was also used in Futureworld (1976). See more »

Quotes

Jimmy: They don't give out no prizes at the half-time Axel.
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Connections

Referenced in Family Guy: Peter's Def Jam (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Am I the only one who understands the underlying theme?
8 September 2009 | by Mpup54See all my reviews

Just about everyone who has posted a reply about the shocking ending was simply left too much in the dark to realize that it tied together a different root demise of Axel Freed than gambling.

Just as a compulsive behavior leads to compulsive gambling, the root evil of Axel Freed was that he had a masochist behavior. When you look a little closer at all the scenes where he acts out this kind of behavior, it makes more sense. The problem lies in that the casual observer is only looking at the problem gambling aspect. There is more to this guy than just that.

The ways he handles his relationships with his mother, girlfriend, grandfather and feelings at the end towards the basketball player ALL indicate there is masochist behavior involved. These are more than just selfish acts. There is some actual self hatred going on as well. Without giving away the final scene, this scene further accentuates the point by sending himself into that situation. The final scene was a conscious act, not something resulting from random chance or risk.

So despite the movie having some gambling theme to it, this really wasn't necessarily about gambling addiction. It was about the nature of Axel Freed. If the movie had no gambling scenes in it at all this point would be more readily identifiable.

The only real oddity in the final scene is the placement of the final scene. If this scene was placed somewhere in the middle of the movie, the underlying theme of his masochist pattern of behavior would have been more easily identified with. Because the movie started with a gambling scene, we all assumed it was just about gambling. Wrong!

Its a tricky concept to catch the first time. Watch this movie again with this concept in mind and the movie will make more sense.


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