Posted August 2, 2013 by John Baintree in News

Top 10 Las Vegas Movies

Las Vegas is one of the most glamorous cities in the States. Celebrities and regular holiday makers alike flock to Sin City to indulge in wide scale debauchery. The gambling hot spot is a favourite for concerts, shows and sporting events. It is unsurprising then, that a city with such a high level of media exposure should feature extensively in popular cinema. With the recent success of The Hangover further embedding the city into public consciousness. That being said, there are many more films set in Vegas – here is a list of our favourites.

10. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Yeah baby! Austin Powers ranks at number ten. The comedic spoof of James Bond sees British spy, Austin Powers, thaw from being cyrogenically frozen in order to thwart Dr Evil’s plans for world domination. Mike Myers stars as the protagonist, but also as Dr Evil. Other notable stars include Elizabeth Hurley as Vanessa Kensington, Austin’s trusted sidekick. Comic actors Will Ferrel and Seth Green star as the villains Mustafa and Scott Evil, respectively.

The movie features many shots of Las Vegas, with the Imperial, the Riviera, the Stardust and Circus Circus all featuring within the film. It is said that the decision to extensively use Vegas as the location of the movie is a reference to 1971′s Diamonds Are Forever, which leads to our next pick.

9. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Based on Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name, Diamonds Are Forever stars Sean Connery as smooth-talking, womanising British spy, Bond. James Bond. This tale sees 007 tackle an international diamond smuggling ring, with the villainous Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd murdering any competition that stands in the way of their boss, Ernst Blofeld. As the tale unfolds, Bond hotfoots between Germany, California, Amsterdam, and most importantly, Vegas. Several Vegas casinos feature in Diamonds Are Forever, including the Circus Circus and the LVH (formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton).

This was Connery’s last outing as the MI6 agent in an original storyline. This does not include Never Say Never Again as this was a remake of Thunderball.

8. Rain Man (1988)

This moving drama comes in at number 7 on the list. Charlie Babbitt, portrayed by Tom Cruise, is awestruck when it is revealed he has a brother, with the death of his father bringing this to light. His brother, Raymond, is the sole inheritor of their father’s vast fortunes, leading Charlie to scheme how to secure half of the fortune. As the story progresses it is revealed Raymond is autistic, with Charlie being sceptical of this. The brothers embark on a cross-country road trip, in order to reach Charlie’s attorney in LA, so the greedy brother can make Raymond depart with some of his inherited fortune. The resulting journey forces the siblings to bond, with Charlie developing genuine affection for his long lost brother, with him eventually denouncing his claim to the fortune.

One of the most memorable story lines in Vegas movie history comes from this movie, with Charlie exploiting his autistic brother’s impeccable memory. The duo end up in Vegas where Charlie convinces Raymond to use his memory skills to count cards in blackjack. This also spawned the memorable (albeit un-PC) line ‘maybe we should tell that to Rain Man, because he practically bankrupt a casino, and he was a retard’, which features in a movie further down the list.

7. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Leaving Las Vegas is an emotional film, not only due to the content of its story. Originally a novel written by John O’Brien, the motion picture showcased roughly 5 years after the novel was published. 2 weeks after it was announced his novel would be turned into a movie, John O’Brien committed suicide by shooting himself.

The story is focused on the character of Ben Anderson, played by Nicolas Cage, in a role which won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Anderson is an alcoholic whose life is in decline; he travels to Vegas in order to drink himself to death. When in Vegas, Ben forms an impractical relationship with a prostitute, with both parties vowing not to question the other’s lifestyle choices. As the movie progresses, their relationship lurches through hardship, climaxing in an emotional ending.

6. Viva Las Vegas (1964)

This film, starring Elvis Presley, was the mega-star’s most successful box office hit. The instantly recognisable Elvis song of the same name was created to promote the movie. The movie depicts Lucky Jackson’s (Elvis) struggle to compete in Vegas’ first annual Grand Prix. As Lucky struggles to gather enough funds for a new engine for his car, his path crosses with Rusty Martin, who accidentally destroys Lucky’s money. Lucky then has to recuperate his lost money, by working as a waiter and by entering a casino talent show, all while trying to win the heart of Rusty.

5. Casino (1995)

Casino, directed by film making giant Martin Scorcese, sees Robert De Niro play Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein in the crime-drama. Ace is drafted in to look after the operations in a Mafia owned casino, the fictional Tangiers. In charge of skimming profits from the casino, in order to avoid tax, Sam soon becomes entangled in complications with the mob, the law and his love life.

The character of ‘Ace’ is based on Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Hacienda and Freemont casinos in the 70s.

4. Oceans 11 (2001)

This super slick crime movie has an all star cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts and is a remake of the equally star studded Rat Pack movie of the same name. Danny Ocean (Clooney), masterminds an audacious heist in which 3 casinos, the Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand are all targeted. The plan becomes more complex when Ocean’s ex love interest is revealed to be romantically involved with the owner of the proposed casinos. Sleek and stylish, the film then went on to become part of the Oceans Trilogy, due to its commercial success.

3. The Hangover (2009)

Remember the Rain Man referencing quote from further up the list? Well here it is. The runaway comical success of 2009, The Hangover depicts the hilarious escapades of a Vegas bachelor party. A ‘wolf pack’ of friends rock up to Las Vegas for the night of their lives, except none of them can remember it, and the groom is nowhere to be seen. The movie follows them as they try to piece together the previous night, whilst frantically searching for the missing groom. Mike Tyson also appears in the film, as does a tiger.

2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Based on the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, this movie stars Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke. Raoul and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, embark on a drug fueled frenzy through Vegas, in search of the American dream. With a heavy emphasis on hallucinogenic substances, the movie shows the skewed state of mind of the protagonist – the hotel check in scene is particularly memorable.

1. The Godfather Part II (1974)

The Godfather Part II is widely regarded as the best movie sequel ever made. The structure if the movie is genius, with two parallel storylines. One details events from where the first movie left off, with the second storyline coming in the form of flashbacks that outline the history of Corleone family, and more significantly, how Vito Corleone founded the family in New York.

The story presents the struggles of Michael Coreone, as he looks to gain an advantageous position within the Vegas casino industry by buying out Moe Greene. Interestingly, Greene is based on Bugsy Siegel, the notorious gangster who helped to create the Las Vegas strip. This movie really does elaborate upon the notion of ‘sin city’, even if it is through semi-fictitious terms – but is still useful to note that the thriving gambling scene within Vegas has not always been legitimate.