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Without even looking it up, we can for sure state that over a hundred high-profile movies exist that use gambling as an essential plot point. However, the number of films that delve into the mindset of a pathological gambler is few and far between. Recent examples include Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler and Wolves, an indie drama with Michael Shannon in the title role. Nevertheless, when the topic of compulsive gamblers on celluloid gets bandied about, one movie always gets at least a mention, the Gambler. How old is this film? Well, the original got released in 1974, directed by Karel Reisz, written by James Toback, with James Caan portraying its protagonist.

Compulsive gaming gets classified as an addictive disorder. It is one where an individual indulges in repetitive gambling, despite an awareness of the looming dangers this activity may bring and previous negative results. As a warning to readers, gambling can be a healthy hobby if managed properly under the guidance of top-reviewed online casinos. Ludomania (problem gambling), as the science books call it, is aptly depicted in 1974’s The Gambler, and again, in its 2014 remake, starring Mark Wahlberg.

Both versions show the betting escapades of an English college professor who is a high-stakes gambler, hooked on the rush this hobby brings him, even though it massively strains his relationships and puts his life in danger.

Is the Gambler Movie Based on a True Story?

In a way, yes. First, it is essential to note that the original film is more or less an adaptation of the 1866 novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It tells the tale of Alexei Ivanovich, a young tutor employed by a formerly wealthy Russian general, who is now neck-deep in debts. The novella’s storyline heavily features roulette, a game that Dostoevsky had a documented infatuation with, and not only served as an inspiration for this piece of literature, but debts accumulated by playing it forced Dostoevsky to write it. He utilized the fee he received for finishing this novella to settle these outstanding payments.

James Toback, the man who penned the screenplay of the 1974 classic, admitted that he used Dostoevsky’s work as the base for his story. Nonetheless, he also sprinkled his experiences with gambling games and his time as a literary professor in New York City into the plot. So, Toback classifies the film as semi-autobiographical. Initially, he began it as a novel before morphing it into a feature script, a personality study whose story does not hang on its ending. Though, some have criticized it for not featuring specifics that explain why the main character is suffering from this affliction, as only hints exist that suggest why he is going through life the way he does.

Where to Watch the 2014 Version

The 2014 Gambler was directed by Rupert Wyatt. That is the man who helmed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the film’s screenplay was penned by William Monahan, the writer of the Departed. Even though it did not get as many positive reviews as the original, the consensus is that this is an above-average crime drama featuring a stellar cast of familiar faces most audiences will recognize.

For rent/purchase, this movie is available on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Apple TV, Vudu, the Microsoft store, Redbox, and DIRECTV. Interested parties can stream it on Hoopla, Sling, and via the Freeveer Amazon Channel. Its rent cost ranges from $3 to $4, while its purchase price hovers between $10 and $13.

Where to Watch the Original

The 1974 movie, going by most aggregator sites (80% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.1 on IMDB), the superior iteration of this story, can be found at Hoopla and Prime Video for subscription streaming. For purchase, it is available at many of the services we rattled off above that host the remake. Again, these include Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Apple TV, Microsoft, and Vudu.

Given that this is an older film, its cost is slightly lower than the remake. So, it has a sale price of $9.99 on most of the mentioned platforms, and its rent cost is $2.99 on all, except on Apple TV, where anyone wanting to watch this movie for a specific period must pay $3.99.

Movies Most Similar to The Gambler

Uncut Gems already got noted in the introduction as a movie showing the struggles of problem gambling. Other quality examples of films exploring this theme are Mississippi Grind, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds, and Owning Mahowny.

Intriguing features that show professional gamblers plying their trade are Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter.

This article was written in collaboration with gambling experts.