An Old School Casino Classic That Everyone Should See
Welcome back to the world of casinos, where opportunity is plentiful and hopes are high. Gambling has been around since the beginning of time in many different ways, shapes and forms. From small petty bets to having people’s whole lives at stake, it has been the cause of friction between families but in the same light, brought many together in celebration of magnificent joyous victories. It’s the adrenaline-pumping act of humanity to prove one’s sheer luck, feeding perfectly into an ego-driven society while also appealing to those who want to stay unnoticed, enjoying time online at casino sister sites where they can remain anonymous.
The gambling industry is an enigma that has sparked off a booming trend in topics for some of the world’s greatest movies. With so much attention given to the latest releases, we decided to focus on an old-school classic set in the mid-70s’ which must be one of the most underrated movies of its time (although it’s been credited by some reviewers as “the greatest gambling movie ever made”).
Directed by Robert Altman, this movie features a strong cast including Oscar-nominee Elliot Gould, star of several other Altman movies, and later in his career, the ‘Oceans 11’ film series. Gould co-stars alongside Golden Globe award-winning American actor and musician, George Segal. The two play Bill Denny and Charlie Waters, who establish a deep friendship throughout the movie as they face many trials through their journey of great gain, loss, robbery, and sweet revenge.
The lifestyle is enthralling for them both, spending their time in dodgy bars, fancy cars, whorehouses, gambling stations, sporting events, and just about anywhere they can place bets. However, as the old saying goes, opposites attract and in time they become aware of their differences. Charlie’s obsession with the highs of the gambling lifestyle reaches a culmination and he eventually taps out – but only after a rollercoaster of events that keep the viewer glued to the screen. Bill is less of a gambling addict than Charlie, keeping a low profile with his day job at a magazine, yet slowly but surely he spirals down the same path as Bill.
With both of them in serious debt to their bookie, Sparkie, the duo is forced to make some serious life choices. They end up selling off everything they have left to buy a bus ticket to Reno where they would join in on another poker game in the hopes of recovering their losses. The poker match features world poker champion, Amarillo Slims, portrayed by himself in the movie. In an intense poker match, Bill eventually wins a whopping $18 000 but, naturally, his dedication to the art of betting has him try to continue on his winning streak a little longer.
At this point, Bill is convinced he has luck on his side and the gambling gods are telling him to continue. After a long winning streak at the craps table, he finally loses and the two decide to split their $82 000 winnings, with Bill choosing to walk away from gambling for good. Charlie’s love of gambling combined with his flamboyant and outgoing personality struggle to accept Bill’s decision but eventually, a turn of events helps him realize that Bill is very serious about his decision to quit while ahead.
Written from the heart
One cannot help but appreciate this superb gambling movie, with its sequence of events set in a timeless classical era of filmmaking. The movie was written by the legendary Joseph Walsh who himself acted in movies for over 20 years before his frustration with his career path led him to write screenplays instead. His own struggles within the gambling world led him to write one of the best gambling movies ever made, as he speaks to the hearts of everyone who has ever tasted that gambling pie.
With California Split, he wrote to all the gamblers he knew, wanting them to know that he was speaking to their soul as he stated later in an interview. Walsh came from a circle of up-and-coming movie scene stars like Steven Spielberg who helped Walsh with the script of this movie for nine months.