Many thought that genres such as the classic western and casino movies were a thing of the past, yet recent releases suggest that these remain in the minds of scriptwriters and directors. Recent twists on previous classics have brought a new genre of film in itself, yet how have these releases fared amongst audiences? Moreover, are we likely to see more films with a strong western/gambling theme in the near future?
Return of the Western
When thinking of westerns in films, the mind is immediately drawn to Clint Eastwood classics like Hang ‘Em High and A Fistful Of Dollars. However, there has been a renaissance of films in the western genre thanks to the likes of The Hateful Eight and The Revenant. These modern takes on the western are significantly different from their 1960s counterparts, but provide a new take which has appealed to audiences.
There have also been hybrid westerns, such as Logan in recent years, which marry the ever-burgeoning superhero genre with the western. The movie was also released in a trimmed-frame noir version, which highlights the presence of the classic western theme the studio was swinging at. Like Eastwood in Hang ‘Em High, Logan sees Hugh Jackman play a complicated protagonist who acts to protect those around him from a looming antagonist, which culminates in a ‘final shootout’ scene. The success of Logan may result in other genres considering incorporating a western twist into their movies, as the film went down as one of Marvel’s best achievements to-date.
Recent Depictions of Gambling in Film
Along with film, gambling is one of the great pastimes for many people worldwide, and, as such, it is slightly strange that the two have not combined more frequently. The online gambling industry is currently stronger than ever thanks to the popularity of games such as online bingo, where millions of players battle it out for huge bingo jackpot prizes. So, with the popularity of now-digitalised games like bingo ever increasing, it is perhaps surprising that very few films have been made about, or featuring, it – perhaps this will change in the coming years.
The majority of existing gambling-related movies are poker and casino related, with classics like The Cincinnati Kid telling the story of a young poker player who challenges a legend of the game to a high stakes game, which culminates in an enthralling final hand. With the rise of online poker encouraging more people to find interest in the game, The Cincinnati Kid has a timeless feel to it and has no doubt played its part in inspiring similar films such as Rounders and The Gambler.
Some of the recent portrayals of gambling in film have come in the comedy-drama genre, with Las Vegas the focus of many of these plots. Recent releases Saint John Of Las Vegas and The Hangover feature gambling at some of the most famous Las Vegas casinos, and with the quirky storylines and characters played in these films, it further adds to the mystique surrounding Las Vegas and gambling. These latest films have shown how far portrayals of gambling in film have moved on from the likes of Casino, which was also set in the classic neon-lit Nevada backdrop.
With some of the recent film releases that focus on gambling and those that have a heavy western theme, going down well with both critics and audiences, there has been an increased appetite for a move genre renaissance. As the rise of online gambling brings a new audience interested in industry-related films, expect the recent renaissance of the gambling genre to continue. Whilst the old-fashioned shoot ‘em up style may now be a thing of the past, new takes on the western continue to prove that the genre is here to stay.