The Gamblers

The Gamblers Focusses on Poker Play

The Gamblers is a 1970 American drama film. Relatively rare and somewhat unknown, this film was written and directed by Ron Winston. Ron Winston was a talented writer and director and had done some high profile TV series and several feature film by the time he died in 1973 at the age of only 40.

The Gamblers stars Suzy Kendall, Don Gordon and Pierre Olaf, and was shot entirely on location in Dubrovnik, Croatia. At the time the film was made, the whole area was Yugoslavia and the dictator ruling the region at the time, Marshall Tito offered numerous incentives for film to be made in the region in order to promote it. Although The Gamblers was only a moderate budget film, but certainly makes full use of the publicity incentives by showing the truly gorgeous scenery of the region in great detail. The film is loosely based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Gambler.

The Story Line, and Poker

The Gamblers starts during a cruise from Trieste to Dubrovnik. During this cruise, a professional poker cardsharp Rooney and his accomplice Goldy win a moderate amount of money from a pair of professional gamblers, called Broadfoot and Cozzier. After the poker game, all four gamblers decide to join forces in order to fleece a wealthy mark in Dubrovnik that Broadfoot and Cozzier have heard of, and who is a true poker aficionado.

The plan involves using Candace, a beautiful fellow passenger who Rooney has met on board, as bait in the swindle. The tricksters fake a dramatic water skiing accident in Dubrovnik, which attracts the attention of the Italian aristocrat Del Isolla, and Rooney manages to strike up a friendship with the aristocrat. At the same time, in an unexpected development, Rooney and Candace begin a romantic relationship. Rooney nevertheless refuses to become too involved with Candace due to the impending swindle and the potential ramifications for Candace.

The All-Night Poker Game

The entire party ends up being invited to the beautiful and luxurious Del Isolla villa. As an ice-breaker, a fight between Koboyashi, Rooney’s Japanese valet, and Nono, the Del Isolla houseboy, is arranged such that everyone gets into a betting mood. This works effectively, and the entire party embarks on a highly competitive game of poker that lasts all night. True to form, Rooney and his accomplices win heavily and the Italian aristocrat, Del Isolla, is suitably fleeced. In fact, he loses so badly that he has to offer Rooney a huge IOU in lieu of the cash. Rooney accepts this arrangement.

A Sting in the Tail

The four poker sharks are delighted with their win and make arrangements to extend their partnership by working together at another poker game in Warsaw. The plan is that Rooney collects on the Del Isolla IOU in Geneva before joining the others in Warsaw. As security, Rooney gives Broadfoot and Cozzier $50 000 in cash while he heads off to Geneva. At the airport, however, a major situation arises because Rooney bumps into Del Isolla and his wife. He discovers that they are in fact actors hired by Broadfoot and Cozzier in an elaborate plot to swindle him. Rooney immediately realizes what he must do, and finds Candace at the airport. He tells her everything, and they decide to stay together and walk away from the entire poker conning business, poor but at least having each other. They return to beautiful Dubrovnik.