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The Game of Roulette in Movies

By: Adam Baker, Thursday January 6th 2011
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Roulette is a larger than life casino game and simple to understand. Therefore when film makers want to introduce a gambling game in the story the choice usually falls on roulette. Over the years there have been several movies that feature the roulette wheel to a lesser or greater extent. This article takes a trip down memory lane and relives the best of them.

One of the earliest movies to feature a roulette scene was Casablanca, the 1942 blockbuster starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The famous roulette scene is only a sub plot of the movie but a very poignant one. During the war years Casablanca was the transit point for refugees wanting to go to America but the exit visas cost a packet. Rick Blaine, played by Bogart, runs the hottest casino in Casablanca. He is approached by Annina, not played by Bergman, for advice. Annina and her husband, Jan, are newlyweds wanting to go to America. They do not have the money to buy the visas and Annina has been approached by a corrupt police officer who promises the documents for sexual favors. Annina tell Blaine that Jan is staking his all at the roulette wheel in order to get hold of the required money, and that is when the famous roulette scene takes place.

Blaine goes to the roulette table to find Jan down to his last three chips. He asks Jan, "Have you tried 22 tonight?" Jan puts his last three chips on 22 and wins. After the croupier pushes the winning chips onto 22, Blaine tells Jan to leave them there. 22 wins again. The amount is sufficient to buy the exit visas. Blaine brusquely tells Jan "Cash it in and don't come back." Everyone knows that Blaine had the croupier rig the wheel so that 22 could win. This happens only in the movies. Do not expect it in real world casinos.

Shades of this scene can be felt in the 1998 movie Run Lola Run. This movie has three runs, which depict different alternatives of how the plot could unfold. The backdrop is that Lola's criminal boyfriend Manni has lost DEM 100,000 and has 20 minutes to get hold of that cash. In one of the runs Lola enters a casino and buys a DEM 100 chip. She goes to a roulette table and places the chip on number 20. Lola wins, lets the bet ride and wins again. She now has DEM 129,600, more than what Manni needs. But when she meets Manni he has already found the lost money, but plenty of other bizarre things have happened meanwhile.

The 1993 movie Indecent Proposal also has shades of Casablanca. It begins on a roulette table in Las Vegas. Childhood sweethearts David and Diana, now a married couple, need big money to finance a real estate project. So they travel to Las Vegas and place their entire stake on red and lose. That is the end of the roulette part and then the indecent proposal is made and accepted. In Casablanca the couple won at the roulette tables and the indecent proposal was turned down.

In practically every movie that has a casino scene there will be roulette tables. But movies in which the game plays a part in the plot will be special to roulette lovers.

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