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The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review]

In the cavalcade of cinema, where the ’70s roar still echoes with the beats of maverick narratives and avant-garde storytelling, The Gamblers stands out as an overlooked artifact that deserves a second shuffle through the deck of film history. Directed by Ron Winston, this adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, “The Gambler“, takes us aboard the Italian liner MS Fairsea, where the drama is as endless as the horizon.

The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review] 1

Gambling as cinematic pursuit

The concept of gambling, a subject as old as time, has been revisited by filmmakers repeatedly, but what makes The Gamblers intriguing isn’t just the act of betting itself but the psychological labyrinth it crafts out of its characters, all bound together by fate’s fickle thread.

That might sound delightfully cruel, but it’s pretty funny. I love movies where someone robs Peter to pay Paul, but the source guy or girl is broke themselves. That was a slight spoiler.

The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review] 3

Richard Ng is an underrated talent

Richard Ng is one of those “that guy” actors I love seeing in movies. Within “The Gamblers”, Ng gets to flex his acting muscle. Having only been in BBC TV productions of stage plays at that point, having a big cinematic bow like this was almost a welcoming party. Riding the wave of Asian representation between Kato and Enter the Dragon, Richard Ng got to be something new.

Unfortunately, most in the US and UK will never know that much about him. I mean the film fans know the powerhouse he became in Asian cinema during the 80s – the 00s. Do me a favor and go find a copy of Pom Pom, then come back. I’ll wait. He’s so good, right? It’s like an early version of Ryan Reynolds that didn’t require being so smug. Honestly, he reminded me more of Paul Benedict in a weird universe where he became a leading man.

The point is that I love it when smaller actors steal focus and keep doing it to the point of improving the core story. What could have been easily another Eurotrash crime movie becomes something more Continental. It’s a fun romp of losers, weirdos and crazies coming together to make something odd.

The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review] 5

What’s a caper?

For its era, The Gamblers took an unconventional approach to the caper genre with its claustrophobic focus on a small group of swindlers. While light on action, it built tension through clever psychological gamesmanship as the strategies of hustlers and marks collided. Margolin and Gordon’s complicated mentor-protégé relationship gave the film a unique character dynamic beyond standard heist fare.

Despite scattered flaws, The Gamblers represented admirable ambitions and artistry from its cast and crew. It showed the potential of rising talents like Margolin and Winston, who made the most of limited resources. As an obscure snapshot of multiple careers before they achieved renown, this overlooked 70s thriller deserves a fresh look for its understated take on the seductive art of deception.

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What can I expect from the VCI Blu-ray of The Gamblers?

The Gamblers Blu-ray arrives from VCI with typical A/V Quality. These guys tend to do deep dives on movies that time forgot and you can see the original wear and tear in the prints visible after stunning restorations. While it’s all Regions on Blu-ray, I still have a hard time seeing that many people getting excited about its release.

Thankfully, we get a commentary from Robert Kelly, noted film historian. I just love the way they phrased that on the back of the box. But, Kelly’s commentary is really good and provides a backdrop to a film I barely knew anything about before the Blu-ray.

The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review] 9

Final thoughts

It’s a shame that Gamblers director Ron Winston didn’t live much longer after the film’s release. He showed chops that weren’t quite Dassin or Edwards. But, his talents served him as a happy-go-between.

The Gamblers isn’t for everyone. However, I appreciate the hell out of anyone that takes a dive into Classic Cinema without The New Beverly having to program a showing first. The A/V Quality is pretty strong, but won’t blow out your home theater. So, give it a shot and program it with a Jess Franco movie. You won’t regret it.

The Gamblers is now available

Our Summary

The Gamblers (1970) [Blu-ray review]

Troy reviews The Gamblers and was pleasantly surprised by the latest from VCI.
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About The Author

Troy Anderson is the Owner/Editor-in-Chief of AndersonVision. He uses a crack team of unknown heroes to bring you the latest and greatest in Entertainment News.

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