The Gambler is a 1974 feature film starring James Caan, Lauren Hutton, and Paul Sorvino.
The film is loosely based on the short novel The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and was filmed at a time when leading actor James Caan was battling his own addiction to cocaine. Caan was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.
Axel Freed is a New York City English professor with a gambling addiction that begins to spiral out of control. In the classroom, Freed inspires his college students with his interpretations of Dostoevsky's work. In his personal life, Axel has the affection of the beautiful Billie and the admiration of his family, including his mother Naomi, a doctor, and his grandfather, a wealthy businessman.
Unbeknownst to them, Axel's reckless gambling on basketball games has left him with a huge debt. His bookie Hips likes the professor personally but threatens grave consequences if he doesn't pay up.
Axel's descent into addiction requires him to extort a hefty $44,000 from his mortified mother to repay what he owes. He goes away with Billie to a casino where he makes a small fortune, only to blow it all again on basketball bets. He takes out his anger on Billie, who does