While poker has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, blackjack has maintained a steady level of popularity for decades. Any casino worth its salt will have at least a few tables devoted to the game, and its endinguring success has also trickled down to the suits in Hollywood. I'm talking about blackjack movies, of course.
The number of blackjack movies may not be great, but the classic casino card game has played a pivotal role in a number of beloved cinematic works. The following list is devoted to recognizing a few of these films, as well as providing some details on why you should see them.
Rain Man (1988) - Dustin Hoffman captured a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant who gets abducted by younger, unscrupulous brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) and taken on a road trip across America. When Charlie realizes his brother's unusual talent for numbers, he immediately heads to Vegas and tries to make a bundle by counting cards at blackjack. While blackjack is not the primary focus of the film, it does play an important role in the growth of the characters. Rain Man also won a Best Picture Oscar, so it's worth a watch even if you're not a fan of the card game.
21 (2008) - The exploits of the MIT Blackjack Team are given the Hollywood treatment, complete with stars such as Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Bosworth. While the large Asian group is transformed into a bunch of white guys, it still remains the ultimate blackjack movie due to the amount of time dedicated to the game.
The Hot Shoe (2005) - If you find card counting to be an interesting topic, you'll want to see this documentary dedicated to the subject. Numerous card counters are interviewed, including members of the legendary MIT Blackjack Team. The development of the art is studied, as well as the math behind it. If you want to learn to count cards, this film is a must-see.
Vegas Vacation (1997) - The fourth film in the Vacation franchise, this entry finds Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his family traveling to Vegas for some rest and relaxation. Of course, nothing works out as expected, from Clark's growing obsession with blackjack to Wayne Newton's equally powerful addiction to Clark's wife.
California Split (1974) - Directed by Robert Altman, this film centers around the growing friendship between Bill (George Segal) and Charlie (Elliott Gould), a pair of men who love to gamble. The latter stages of the movie are highlighted by a trip to Reno, where games such as blackjack, poker, and craps take center stage.
If you're a fan of blackjack, you're sure to enjoy these blackjack movies. Some major studio releases, while others were made on a shoestring budget. But regardless of the amount of money used to finance them, each is bound to have you yearning for Las Vegas.