Eight Men Out (1988)
This movie is based on Eliot Asinof’s 1963 book, Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series.
Eight Men Out follows the real-life story of the 1919 World Series controversy, known as the “Black Sox Scandal.”
The scandal featured eight players of the Chicago White Sox accepting bribes from gamblers to intentionally lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds went on to win the championship in eight games, and the White Sox wouldn’t win the World Series again until 2005 — a whopping 88 years after their most recent title.
Pennsylvania’s two MLB teams –the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates– have 2022 World Series odds of +3000 and +20000, respectively. Sports betting in PA is booming, with the Coal State serving as one of the country’s top online sports betting states.
The eight players who allegedly accepted the money were “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Bucky Weaver, Fred McMullin, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsh, Eddie Cicotte, Swede Risberg, and Lefty Williams. Though they were all acquitted of charges in court, the eight players received lifetime bans from the game of baseball.
Eight Men Out stars John Cusack (Weaver), Clifton James (Charles Comiskey), Michael Lerner (Arnold Rothstein), and Christopher Lloyd (Bill Burns).
Five years after the success of Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese teamed up once again with the legendary acting tandem of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for Casino (1995).
De Niro plays Sam “Ace” Rothstein, based on Frank Rosenthal — a powerful casino executive in Las Vegas, Nevada, and sports bettor. Pesci plays De Niro’s close friend and enforcer, Nicky Santoro (based on Tony Spilotro)
Casino also stars Sharon Stone as Ginger McKenna, Rothstein’s wife who’s largely based on Rosenthal’s real-life wife, Geri McGee.
The star-studded cast also includes Don Rickles, Frank Vincent, Alan King, Kevin Pollak, and John Bloom.
Rothstein is a top sports handicapper who’s tasked with the day-to-day operations of the Tangiers Casino. While trying to manage the finances of the casino, Rothstein has to deal with several hardships — including a failed marriage with Ginger as well as legal troubles that largely stem from Santoro’s erratic behavior. At the same time, Rothstein and his mafia bosses have to carefully work their operations as they’re being watched closely by law enforcement.
For her performance as McKenna, Stone won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama in 1995. Scorsese was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
Casino would serve as the final movie involving all three of Scorsese, De Niro and Pesci for 24 years. The latter retired from acting in 1999 but worked on several film projects before ultimately agreeing to sign on for another critically-acclaimed film, The Irishman (2019).
The Color of Money (1986)
Speaking of Martin Scorsese blockbuster films that relate to gambling.
Long before the theatrical release of The Color of Money, Paul Newman starred as Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961). That film was based on the 1959 novel written by Walt Tevis.
25 years after The Hustler hit the big screens, and nine years before the release of Casino, Scorsese directed The Color of Money (a sequel to The Hustler) This movie too was based on a book written by Tevis (released in 1984).
Newman is accompanied by a young Tom Cruise (Vincent Lauria), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Carmen), John Turturro (Julian) and Helen Shaver (Janelle).
The Color of Money sees Felson catch the talents of Lauria. Felson, still involved in the betting industry, mentors Cruise’s character in the game of pool. It all leads to a pool tournament and road trip to Atlantic City.
Let It Ride (1989)