Three Great Movies Set in Las Vegas

When it comes to movie locales, Las Vegas isn’t a bad bet. From its gangster roots to its embrace of vice and shotgun weddings, Sin City has become one of Hollywood’s favorite datelines. Let’s take a look at some of the best movies filmed in the world’s most popular entertainment hub.

Ocean’s 11, 1960

The Vegas landscape has undergone quite a transformation over the last fifty years, and the metamorphosis has been perfectly captured on films such as the original Ocean’s 11. Before George Clooney and Brad Pitt were robbing Terry Benedict’s Bellagio, Mirage and the MGM Grand, Lewis Milestone had the original Rat Pack were plotting for a ludicrously high payout at the Desert Inn, The Flamingo, Riviera, Sahara and Sands. Frank Sinatra plays Danny Ocean who gathers his World War II buddies to pull off an epic Las Vegas heist involving five of the biggest casinos on the Strip. If there was one criticism of the movie, the cast’s exhaustive days of filming translates in the picture, causing it to have what John Patterson of the Guardian describes as a “tired, hungover feel to it,” but the film still serves as an excellent tribute to 1960s Las Vegas and is a worthy film to watch as a comparison to the 2001 Soderbergh remake.

Casino, 1995

Martin Scorsese leads his star-studded cast into what is now considered one of the best gambling themed movies of all time. Beneath all the flashing lights, glitz and glamor is an uglier side of Vegas hidden away from all the limelight. The concealed realm of corruption and violence clashes with the extravagant side of Las Vegas when the Tangiers Casino operator Ace Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro, finds himself falling in love with a hustler that goes by the name Ginger, played by Sharon Stone. With most of the action taking place in Le Bistro Lounge, the two worlds intertwine in the Riviera Hotel and Casino, one of the longest running casinos on the Strip that opened back in the mid 1950s and sadly closed its doors to the public this past May.

The Hangover Part III, 2013

Fast forward to the present with The Hangover Part III, the film that immaculately encapsulates all the wonders of the modern-day Vegas. The first movie in the franchise featured the extravagant Bellagio Hotel, but Todd Phillips and the rest of the production team stepped up their game for the third installment of mayhem where the notorious wolf pack returns to Sin City, filming in multiple hotels rather than just one. The movie contains set locations in the city’s most luxurious destinations, including Paris Las Vegas Hotel, a pop culture icon that has also been featured in films such as Resident Evil: Extinction and 2012. Other casino resorts that are part of The Hangover legacy include Bally’s, Caesar’s Palace and Planet Hollywood. Though the conclusion to the trilogy didn’t live up to all the hype, the film does well to accurately showcase the thrills of the gambling capital.

The Popcorn Monster is a self-proclaimed movie buff who is a huge fan of films dated pre-2000s. Her passion for cinematography started back in college when she took film studies as an elective. When she’s not busy checking out old films playing at her local theater, she loves to lurk online and discover the best innovations in technology. Watch out for her blog soon!

8 thoughts on “Three Great Movies Set in Las Vegas

  1. In “Leaving Las Vegas” the city is a co-star, along with Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. It reflects the darkness in them that it is the perfect setting.

    Great post!

  2. I had the good fortune of watching Tony Scott set up a scene inside the Stratosphere during filming of Domino, which was shot in and around town. I even had an opportunity to chat with a couple of the actors at the gaming tables. Coincidentally, I moved to Las Vegas in 1995 immediately following my viewing of Showgirls, a cult classic.

  3. Fun article, with an interesting collection of movies. I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of “Casino,” but it certainly offers a unique look at the city. There’s no doubt it’s an intriguing subject.

  4. The first two are excellent choices, with the original ‘Ocean’s’ far superior to the remake. I could watch ‘Casino’ every week, and still find some undiscovered gems. I have never seen any of ‘The Hangover’ films, and won’t be watching them, but happy to take your word for that one.
    Great idea for a theme, and very nicely done.
    best wishes from England. Pete.

  5. You know you have a great setting when it can sustain movies as diverse as the psychologically brutal Leaving Las Vegas and the supremely entertaining Viva Las Vegas. There’s a double feature.

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