Location: Redstone Theater
With James Toback in person
Dir. Karel Reisz. 1974. 111 mins. 35mm. With James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Lauren Hutton, Morris Carnovsky. In a magnetic, psychologically rich performance, James Caan plays Axel Freed, a college literature professor who teaches Dostoyevsky by day and echoes the author’s anti-heroic the Gambler by night. James Toback’s wise and unpredictable script posits a man who gambles not to win, but to lose, purposefully and anxiously squandering opportunities and privileges won by his immigrant family. It is a fascinating, unconventionally thrilling 1970s portrait of a man deliberately behaving with his worst interests in mind. In his four-star Chicago Sun-Times review, Roger Ebert wrote, “The Gambler, which begins as a portrait of Axel Freed’s personality, develops into the story of his world, and then pays off as a thriller. We become so absolutely contained by Axel’s problems and dangers that they seem like our own.”
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