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The Gambler

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The Gambler (1974)

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Additional Information
For $10,000 they break your arms. For $20,000 they break your legs. Axel Freed owes $44,000.

James Toback made his screenwriting debut with this taut drama, loosely adapted from the story by Dostoevsky. Axel Freed (James Caan) is an intelligent and well-respected professor of literature at a noted New York university, who uses great writing as a springboard for examining moral and philosophical issues in his class. But when he's not in front of the chalkboard, Axel has a serious problem -- he's hopelessly addicted to gambling. Axel will bet on almost anything, and while he lives for the heady rush of winning, it doesn't happen all that often, and Axel's latest losing streak has put him in debt to his bookies to the tune of $44,000, more than a college professor could hope to pay in 1974. Even after tapping his mother (Jacqueline Brookes), his grandfather (Morris Carnovsky), and his girlfriend (Lauren Hutton) for cash, Axel still owes thousands to his bookie Hips (Paul Sorvino), who is quickly losing his patience with Axel, especially when he learns after he finally scored a major winning streak, rather than paying off his bills he used the money to keep gambling ... and lost it all, leading to visits from an increasingly threatening series of underworld "collectors." The Gambler also features supporting performances from Burt Young, James Woods, and M. Emmett Walsh. ~

Axel Freed is a New York City English professor with a gambling addiction that begins to spiral out of control. In the classroom, Freed inspires his college students with his interpretations of Dostoevsky's work. In his personal life, Axel has the affection of the beautiful Billie and the admiration of his family, including his mother Naomi, a doctor, and his grandfather, a wealthy businessman.
Unbeknownst to them, Axel's reckless gambling on basketball games has left him with a huge debt. His bookie Hips likes the professor personally but threatens grave consequences if he doesn't pay up.
Axel's descent into addiction requires him to extort a hefty $44,000 from his mortified mother to repay what he owes. He goes away with Billie to a casino where he makes a small fortune, only to blow it all again on basketball bets. He takes out his anger on Billie, who does not appreciate having loan sharks come to their apartment in the middle of the night. Expecting help from his grandfather, Axel gets nothing but the older man's disappointment and disgust.
The only solution left is to lure one of his students, a basketball star, into accepting a bribe to shave points in a game so that Axel can pay off his debts. Having corrupted a previously innocent youth, Axel is so appalled by his own behavior that he masochistically confronts a dangerous man which leaves him with a bloody and permanent reminder of his actions.

Release Date: October 2, 1974 @ Loews tower east

Distrib: Paramount


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