The Gambler (1974) torrent download

The Gambler

1974

Crime / Drama

7.2

Synopsis

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.

Director

Karel Reisz

Cast

James Caan
as Axel Freed
Morris Carnovsky
as A. R. Lowenthal
Jacqueline Brookes
as Naomi Freed
Burt Young
as Carmine

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by shotguntom N/A

Classic 70s film about addiction

The theme of addiction is a favourite area for film makers and "The Gambler" stands as the best and most intelligent film about the addiction of gambling. The fact that it is a little known or seen film is perhaps to do with its intellectual script which, with references to Dostoyevsky, may be too pretentious for some. However, rather than being a cleched film about a good man's decent into the hell of addiction this is a film about a selfish, egotistical man, from a good background, who happily wades deeper and deeper into his obsession.

The film's title pretty much sums up the story, with the character of Axel Freed, played by James Caan, beginning the film as a compulsive gambler but sinking further and further into his habit as the film goes on. He does this despite his undoubted intelligence - he is a college lecturer - and despite the pleading of his mother, rich grandfather and friends.

Freed is by no means a likeable character. Like most addicts all he cares about is his next fix and will happily ask his mother for tens of thousands of dollars to repay an outstanding debt. No one, including his girlfriend, played by Lauren Hutton, and his college students, remain untouched by his addiction, a decision which comes back to haunt him in the film's climax.

Many people have been left puzzled by the film's ending which is cryptic and unresolved. However this merely stands as a metaphor for addiction generally, that it can never be fully cured or ever totally go away. Axel is, however, obviously disgusted with himself and the effect his gambling has had on those around him and his late night journey into the all-black neighbourhood is his way of seeking retribution for his sins.

"The Gambler" provides James Caan with, alongside Michael Mann's "Thief", the best role of his career. The character of Axel Freed provides him with a range of emotions, especially in the way he treats those he cares about, as his gambling slowly takes precedence over everything else. Anyone who thinks James Caan's career began and ended with "The Godfather" should definitely see "The Gambler", as this proves he is one of the top actors of his generation and that he can play more than just the tough guy roles he is too often saddled with.

The film is brilliantly directed by Karel Reisz as not a single scene rings false despite a 111 minute running time. After directing the classic "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" in Britain, Reisz relocated to America, but, unfortunately, "The Gambler" represents the only time he reached those heights again.

Reviewed by davisk957 8 /10

There are no happy endings in This world.

Those viewers who wished a happy ending (and that's what they're really saying when they find the movie's ending scene weak/disquieting/unfulfilling/whatever) don't really understand the nature of degenerate gambling.

And that's what this man is. Let's (as all gamblers do) put some %'s to it: arbitrarily I'll say 95% of habitual bettors play for the kick, the high, the thrill of the unknown outcome -- sports betting, casino betting, the turn of a card, they're all the same. Their motto of life might be, "If it moves, bet on it; if it doesn't, eat it." It isn't the win that's satisfying to them, or the money won -- because, you see, there's always the next game to get down on. Both a win or a loss is quickly forgotten, adjusted to, and forgotten. The next play is the only important one. Yet, to some extent or another, they keep it manageable, within the scope of their lives.

Then there are the other 5% -- the really degenerate gamblers. Now to these guys (never heard of a female degenerate gambler, did you?) it's NOT the action they crave. It's the LOSS. Make sense? Of course not, because you're probably reading this as a rational human being, and self-destruction is hard to get inside of.

But that's what this story is all about -- one of the 5%'ers.

To an experienced sports bettor, the scenes like the indelibly memorable tub scene are all too powerfully true. How a win turns to a loss in the last second happens all too often. And how COULD those 3 college hoops games all go south, when they all had big leads at the half?? But examine two key turning points in the story: for dramatic impact, the writer imbues the protagonist with somewhat unlikely powers of recovery -- the Vegas comeback is the stuff of dreams, and the fix on the NYU game, keeping it under 7 points when all was lost with a minute to go -- those contrivances were needed to show the magnitude of this guy's disease. Had he been just a steady loser, he couldn't rise to the heights necessary to fall so far. Not once, but twice, he made a full recovery from the debts he owed. Yet he couldn't learn from it -- hell, he couldn't even take one night to sleep in peace.

No, his desire for self-destruction had to be played out as it was, in a lurid hell far worse than casinos or calling the book again. He needed the self-degradation that only a Harlem pimp-fight could give him.

I found the ending fitting, un-sentimentalized, and perfect for this unblinking portrait of a man who couldn't be satisfied until he'd thoroughly debased himself.

Substitute a down-and-out drunk for the gambling addiction, and the story's been told many times. This should be assigned viewing in every GA meeting.

Reviewed by kayrok 9 /10

A bit disturbing

From the first scene to the last I was on the edge of my seat. Bet after bet my stomach turned. Caan's Axel Freed is driven to hit the big one, but it never seems to come or be enough. He loves the thrill of losing and feels safe when he is at the bottom.

Watching Freed bet tens of thousands of dollars on whims is excruciating. This film is one huge car wreck that you can't turn away from. With each scene the damage gets worse and worse.

"If all my bets were safe they just wouldn't have any juice," he tells his bookie.

Axel is never happy--even when he is doing the thing he enjoys most. You can see the underlying dissatisfaction he has with his job, his life, and the universe in general. The only constant in his existence is the bet. Win or lose.

Freed is very adept at evading the lowlifes he owes his shirt to. It is a joyride for him to constantly "dodge the bullet". That is why each bet becomes riskier and riskier. He wants to see what will happen to him when all of his luck runs out.

At one point in the film Axel reads a passage from an essay on George Washington to his class. He and his students conclude that Washington was afraid of failure and that he tried to remove the element of risk from everything he did. It is the very antithesis of Axel's life as a gambler. He creates situations that are totally immersed in risk believing that it is the only way to ensure true success. All or nothing. He is willing to compromise not only himself, but anyone around him who cares about him. By displaying his dark, self-destructive side he gambles with their feelings and challenges them to either love him or leave him.

It was a special treat to see two actors (Cann and Sorvino) who are in two of the best crime movies ever made (The Godfather and Goodfellas) together in the same film.

Also Antonio Vargas is appropriately slimy as the Pimp (sort of an R-rated Huggy Bear).

There are some pivotal moments in the film like when Axel is told that he must get one of his basketball-playing students to fix a game; or when he confronts his millionaire grandfather after learning that he refused to cover his debt.

I won't give away the ending, but the payoff is not what you would expect in American cinema.

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