Director: Richard Brooks
Producer: Fredie Fields
Writer: Richard Brooks
Stars: Ryan O’Neal, Catherine Hicks, Giancarlo Giannini, Bridgette Andersen
Music: Thomas Dolby
Cinematography: William A. Fraker
Runtime: 96 min
Gross: $0.62 M
- Ryan O’Neal as Steve Taggart
- Catherine Hicks as Flo
- Giancarlo Giannini as Charley
- Bridgette Andersen as Amy
- Chad Everett as The Dutchman
- John Saxon as Sports Editor
- Hank Greenspun as The Las Vegas Sun publisher
- William Smith as Panama Hat
- Keith Hefner as Sweeney
- Patrick Cassidy as Soldier
- William Prince as Mitchell
- Chad McQueen as Convict
- Fred Robledo as sports desk editor
Famous sportswriter Steve Taggart (Ryan O’Neal) volunteers to write a newspaper series for the Los Angeles Herald examiner on compulsive sports. His piece is based on Mr. Green, a casino gambler on the verge of ruining his family but will still not give up gambling. His editor, John Saxon, approves of the topic but he doesn’t know Mr. Green was Taggart himself.
Taggart interviews people as well as visits gambling venues to get more information for his article. He later becomes obsessed with the sport and he later lands in a huge debt. His main objective changes as he has to deal with the dangerous L.A loan shark known as The Dutchman (Chad Everett).
The loan shark threatens to harm his daughter unless he settles his debt. Taggart also finds out that even a local pro quarterback is on the moneylender’s payroll; it is a means of settling his gambling debt.
Taggart finally clears his story and he heads for a field report on the compulsive sport. He meets up with a seductive casino hostess named Flo (Catherine Hicks). He gambles with her at roulette and this time he wins. He comes across the famous Las Vegas publisher (Hank Greenspan) and other gambling personalities.
However, Taggart is not aware of the Dutchman’s hitman, Panama Hat (William Smith) who is on his tail. “The Hat” finally confronts him and he advises him to return to Las Vegas to settle the Dutchman’s debt. Taggart takes his daughter for a day trip to the Hollywood Park racetrack. He gambles at the place and he is even assaulted by a stranger to whom he owes money. On the following day, his editor is so impressed with his story and he even gives him more funds for the script.
Taggart is not happy with his indulgence in gambling and he even visits a gambling anonymous for help. He later returns to Las Vegas, acquainting himself with high roller Charley (Giancarlo Giannini) hoping to win big and also getting rid of Hat. His plans prove successful and he later decides to quit gambling.
In celebration of eventually getting rid of the addition, Taggart places a bet and he miraculously wins a huge jackpot. He gets an advocate to manage his huge finances and save some for his daughter. He promises to follow the attorney’s advice.
Being a veteran of the many 1940’s great movies, Richard Brooks comes up with a film typical throwback to the era’s gangster films. However, this time around the style does not perfectly suit his melodrama.
The plot is gambling based and has twists and turns that seem to support the vice. Cinematographer William Fraker introduces us to a fantasy world of poker palaces and race tracks in Las Vegas presented in a neon-flashing art of the ’80s.
It would be unfair to criticize the characters. Even though the plot is not satisfying, the characters take their roles perfectly. Writer Steve Taggart Steve Taggart ironically stars in a story about himself. He perfectly portrays the typical life of a gambler in Las Vegas.
Flo plays the sexy casino Hostess that manages to win over Taggart and later pulling him away from his family. Others, including the fearsome Dutchman, the depressed gamblers anonymous, the story approving editor, and Taggart’s lovely wife and daughter equally grow into their roles.
I do not dispute that the film is about gambling, but I find it difficult to understand what was being portrayed. The plot finally advocates gambling as a success. Ironically, we are introduced to a struggling gambler, ready to quit this compulsive sport but he later wins big in it. I believe that this film was a gambling promotional incentive and it does not depict the gambling life in Las Vegas.
Unconvincing cartoonish violence, awkward nudity, and some strong language makes it an R rated movie. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any viewer looking for a morally set drama film. I am also disappointed that the producer was unable to match his incredible casting to a more appropriate plot. A 4.1 out of 10 is my take on this.