Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
In honor of Solo: A Star Wars Story, what your favorite scene that features characters gambling?
I know absolutely nothing about playing cards or gambling. I am that annoying guy that needs all the rules re-explained to me everytime I am about to play a game with someone. I can’t remember the rules for Blackjack no matter how many times I have played it. Even so, I love watching people gamble and play cards in movies, especially when they seem to really know what they are doing. Once again, the problem is that since I don’t really know what is happening when they are gambling, I don’t really follow, I just think they look cool. So I will probably go with the most memorable one at the moment, in Casino when they use a cattle prod on the guy who is helping someone cheat at cards, and they take him back and use a hammer to break one of his fingers. Now THAT’S something I can understand.—Andy Elijah
This is likely the most obvious one, but Daniel Craig’s first foray as James Bond in Casino Royale contains what is still the best high stakes poker game ever put to celluloid. What can be better than a poker-face stare down between Craig and Mads Mikkelsen as the players show their cards to one-up each other for $115 million dollars?! Oh, and this is after Bond loses the game initially, gets re-staked, AND recovers from being poisoned by Mikkelsen’s girlfriend henchman. Come to think of it, Casino Royale may be my favorite Bond film.
Runner-Up: Mel Gibson taking on Alfred Molina and besting his straight flush with a royal flush in Maverick. I’ll have to go back and see if that flick is as fun as I remember… —Jeff Piotrowski
I was initially going to say Casino Royale, but Jeff said it all better than I ever could. And yes, Jeff, that IS the best Bond movie. So in lieu of that, I am choosing the best moment in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery as not just my favorite gambling scene, but also probably the most spot-on moment of Bond parody in existence.
For me, great gambling scenes either involve James Bond or Paul Newman. Not only does the title character in Cool Hand Luke get his name from a poker hand, but The Sting is a con artist movie all about conning a gambler out of a whole lot of money as revenge. There’s a complicated plot, but the con starts with Newman’s character hustling his way into their mark’s (Robert Shaw) private poker game, acting obnoxiously, and eventually out-cheating Shaw’s character for $15,000. The scene is anchored by perfect performances by Newman and Shaw, and the direction actively deceives the audience in order to maximize tension and surprise. —Ryan Silberstein
I don’t really have a love of gambling moments, but I did say the following to Dan while discussing this split decision question:
Me: “What about that one movie?”
Dan: “Mississippi Grind?”
Me: “Yeah! That one about gambling.”
So Mississippi Grind is my answer.—Jenna Kuerzi
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.