It's been 25 years since "Casino," which is based on Nicholas Pileggi's novel "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas," opened in theaters on Nov. 22, 1995. The Martin Scorsese-directed film starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci is one of the lauded director's most celebrated to date. The 1995 gangster epic tells the tale of the Mafia's convoluted relationship with Las Vegas and hits on themes of power, scandal and romance. Sharon was nominated for a best actress Academy Award for her performance. In honor of its big anniversary, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at more of the best movies set in Las Vegas…
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The 1995 romantic drama "Leaving Las Vegas" centers around a suicidal alcoholic who sets his sights on Sin City, where he hopes to live out a life of debauchery but instead falls in love with a prostitute. Nicolas Cage won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his work in the lead role, while Elisabeth Shue scored Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her performance as Sera in the film, which also earned Academy Award nominations for best director and best adapted screenplay.
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The "Hangover" franchise has become a classic in today's comedic landscape. The first film in the trilogy, 2009's "The Hangover," takes place in Las Vegas, where Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha's characters travel for a wild bachelor party gone completely awry. The second installment followed "The Wolfpack" and their misadventures in Thailand, while 2013's "The Hangover Part III" centered around their unfortunate return to Sin City.
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a quintessential hedonistic Las Vegas movie. Based on Hunter S. Thompson's iconic novel of the same name, the 1998 film follows a journalist (Johnny Depp) and his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro) who travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and go on a madcap drug binge.
Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan co-starred in 1992's "Honeymoon in Vegas," which centers around the love triangle that develops when a wealthy gambler falls for a private eye's fiancée, who bears a striking resemblance to his late wife. The Sin City-set rom-com received mixed reviews from critics but performed well at the box office and scored two Golden Globe nominations: best comedy or musical and best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical for Nic.
"Showgirls" stars "Saved By the Bell" alum Elizabeth Berkley as a young woman on her way to becoming a top-notch Las Vegas showgirl. Alongside a cast that includes Kyle MacLachlan and Gina Gershon, Elizabeth's character, Nomi, pushes her way to the top of the showgirl food chain in this so-bad-it's-good 1994 flick.
The 2001 remake of "Ocean's Eleven" stars A-listers George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts. The heist flick enters around ringleader Danny Ocean's plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos with the help of his talented accomplices. It was so popular, it spawned two sequels and a 2018 spinoff, "Ocean's Eight."
Sandra Bullock reprised her role as beauty pageant contestant and undercover FBI agent Gracie Hart in 2005's "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous." In this second installment, Gracie is forced to team up with her unimpressed partner, Sam Fuller (Regina King), in order to locate one of her missing old beauty pageant friends, Cheryl Frasier (Heather Burns). As a result, the investigation takes her to Las Vegas, where they believe Cheryl was kidnapped.
Jon Favreau returned to Las Vegas alongside Vince Vaughn in 1996's "Swingers." The dramedy follows the lives of two struggling actors who find themselves immersed in the retro Swing dance scene in Los Angeles. Their escapades also lead them to an impromptu — and memorable — trip to Las Vegas. Vegas, baby!
"Vegas Vacation," the fourth installment in the "National Lampoon's Vacation" film series, follows Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his zany family on vacation in Las Vegas. Needless to say, the Griswolds uniquely experience Sin City and all it has to offer — from gambling away their savings to identity theft and run-ins with Wayne Newton — in the 1997 comedy.
The 1996 movie "Swingers" follows Mike Peters (Jon Favreau), a struggling comedian who has difficulty maintaining a long-lasting romantic relationship. As a result, Mike's close pal, ladies man Trent Walker (Vince Vaughn), decides to help Mike gain some confidence and learn how to properly romance women. While the film doesn't entirely take place in Las Vegas, there are scenes that feature the Fremont Hotel along with the Stardust Resort and Casino and, of course, the guys' high-speed drive to Sin City from Hollywood. As Trent so famously said, "Vegas, baby, Vegas!"
Set in an old-school Las Vegas casino, 2003's "The Cooler" — which stars Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy and Maria Bello — follows a supremely unlucky guy whose luck finally turns when he falls in love with a cocktail waitress. Too bad his good fortune stirs up a ton of drama with the casino's mob associates.
The 1991 crime drama "Bugsy" follows the trajectory of real-life mobster Bugsy Siegel (Warren Beatty) and his relationship with bold Hollywood starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening). The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and ultimately claimed two: best set direction and best costume design. Warren and Annette met on the set of the Las Vegas-centric film and sparks flew. The power couple wed in 1992 and have been together ever since.
The 1964 musical "Viva Las Vegas" centers around racecar driver Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley), who ventures to Sin City to earn money to buy a new engine for his car and to participate in a big race — all the while courting swimming instructor Rusty (Ann-Margret).
2012's "Electrick Children" starring Julia Garner tells the story of Rachel McKnight, a 15-year-old member of a Mormon community who's convinced that she's become pregnant after listening to a song on a cassette tape. After a fallout with her family, Rachel makes the decision to flee to Las Vegas with her brother, where she meets a group of skaters and begins to fall for one in particular — a young man named Clyde (Rory Culkin).
In the 2008 rom-com "What Happens in Vegas," Ashton Kutcher's Jack Fuller and Cameron Diaz's Joy McNally get hitched during a wild night of partying in Las Vegas and subsequently win a $3 million jackpot. When they attempt to divorce, a judge orders them to stay together for six months. Spoiler: They end up falling in love.
This is a solid crew! Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline took top billing in 2013's "Last Vegas," a comedy about aging retirees who travel to Las Vegas for their last remaining single friend's bachelor party.
The cult 1999 crime-comedy "Go" follows several intersecting storylines including one centered around a group of pals and their misadventures in Las Vegas. The trouble starts when two of the guys (Breckin Meyer and James Duval) get food poisoning from a Sin City buffet. Things go from bad to worse when the other two pals (Taye Diggs and Desmond Askew) steal a Ferrari from a casino and shoot a bouncer at a strip club, which leads to a car chase down iconic Las Vegas Boulevard.
1956's "Meet Me in Las Vegas" starring Dan Dailey tells the story of Chuck Rodwell, a rancher who also happens to be an avid gambler. On his annual trip to Las Vegas, Chuck meets a snobbish ballerina, Maria Corvier (Cyd Charisse), who manages to reverse his bad luck by just being within his vicinity. Convinced she's his good luck charm, Chuck invites Maria to spend the remainder of his trip with him. As to be expected, feelings begin to develop between these two unlikely companions.
"Diamonds Are Forever" is the eighth installment in the James Bond franchise and marks Sean Connery's penultimate appearance as the iconic spy. Based on Ian Fleming's novel of the same name, the 1971 film follows 007 as he impersonates a diamond smuggler in order to solve a crime developing in the world diamond market. The movie takes place in a number of locations, including Las Vegas.
The 1998 crime-comedy "Very Bad Things" centers around a bachelor party gone wrong. Things quickly head south after Jeremy Piven's Michael accidentally kills a stripper he hired for the party, sending the group into a tailspin of drama, lies and confessions. The film also star Christian Slater, Daniel Stern, Cameron Diaz and Jon Favreau.
The 2003 comedy "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" follows Las Vegas magician Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrell) as he reunites with his former partner (Steve Buscemi) to take on a malevolent street magician (Jim Carrey). The stacked cast also includes Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and the late James Gandolfini.
Inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team and based on Ben Mezrich's book "Bringing Down the House," the 2008 film "21" chronicles six Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who train to become experts in card counting and proceed to take on Las Vegas casinos for millions in winnings.
Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, 1982's "One from the Heart" is a musical set in Sin City that follows the tumultuous relationship between Hank (Frederic Forrest) and Frannie (Teri Garr). Although the couple decides to call it quits while celebrating their fifth anniversary, the musical chronicles the difficulties they have with fully letting go of one another, even after they meet other people.
Although this 1988 classic doesn't take place primarily in Las Vegas, there are some incredibly memorable scenes set in Sin City. In "Rain Man," Tom Cruise's Charlie Babbitt discovers that his estranged father has died and left millions to his brother, an autistic savant with a knack for blackjack and card counting, who's portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. In one scene, Charlie and Raymond head to Vegas so Charlie can make some quick cash at Caesars Palace. In another, the reunited brothers gleefully glide down the casino's escalator.