If you listen to The Vegas Tourist Podcast interviews, you know that in the end, I ask my guest several Vegas related questions. One of them is to name their favorite “Vegas” movie. As in singular. Just one movie. This is not so easy off the top of your head. Considering there are a lot of Vegas movies to choose from. So they often have to list two or three as their favorite!
So here are the Top 5 favorite Vegas related movies as ranked from my guests on The Vegas Tourist Podcast:
#5 Vegas Vacatation (1997)
Who hasn’t seen this classic “Vegas” movie?? How many times have you been to a Vegas restaurant or show and heard someone use the name “Nick Papagiorgio”? Several popular Vegas commentators on YouTube and Facebook use that name as their handle. Then you have the whole Hoover Dam references on my tours!
This was the third of four “Vacation” movies featuring the Griswald family. A slapstick comedy that needed an excuse to visit Las Vegas or maybe it was Vegas trying to find a movie that they could use to make fun of ourselves. As time has moved on, it is also a look at the Vegas boom and the themes used by the various themes that are now long gone. Complete with that hideous shag carpeting, horrible green interiors, cheesy buffets, and dealers who talked smack to you while they cleaned out your bank account.
Let’s not forget the love scenes of the aged and over the hill Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. This man just seems to know how to market himself while doing great PR for the city he loves! You also have the hustler out on the Strip trying to sell you anything and everything including a fake driver’s license. (FYI. You used to be able to go to the DMV, take your drivers’ license exam and get your license printed at the same time)
Then, of course, you have the subtle marketing of the Mirage Resort. Where a majority of the mayhem took place.
#4 Oceans 11 (The original 1960)
Of all the Vegas movies out there and the diversity of the people interviewed, this one being in the top 5 actually surprised me. To me, this movie is the one that established what we call “Vegas Cool”. It gave Las Vegas a needed shot in the arm to tell the world that Vegas really was The Entertainment Capital of the World.
For the new generation, this movie and the publicity around it shows what the Vegas-style used to be. No shorts and flipflops or fanny packs. Open skylines, Only well-pressed Suits, and ties for men. Dresses, and pearls for the ladies. All the shows started late at night and people actually won money at the tables! But for all that, it is the making of the movie that some say created the legendary Rat Pack and put Vegas entertainment on the map!
#3 Hangover (2009)
What has become the ultimate “Guys Vegas Movie” or maybe the wishful thinking for the ultimate “Guys Roadtrip” movie! It’s a movie that may play loose with what can and often does happen when men are let free from their marital and relationship shackles and chase their dreams in the city of Neon. Plus it tells the tale of what lengths men will go to for the sake of their buddies!
What I liked about the movie was how it played on some of the unusual quirks that make this town so fun. The valet pulling up with a cop car and nobody batting an eye. The quickie wedding you don’t remember. The weird requests of high rollers that concierges will fulfill. And let’s not forget the “in room entertainers”!
Even today, as people check in to Caesars, you will hear them laughing as they ask those famous questions from the movie: “did Caesar live here?” – “Do you know if the hotel is pager friendly”
Much like Vegas Vacation was for the Mirage, this was one long commercial for Caesars Palace!
#2 Ocean’s 11 (2001)
How do you top the movie that made Vegas cool? You have the modern version of Hollywood’s leading cool men (and lady) make a movie about hanging out together in Las Vegas. Like its original, this one is more about the friendship of the actors than it is about the movie or the script. Yes, another buddy movie!
Hollywood doesn’t have a great track record for making successful remakes, especially when trying to remake a classic, but on this one, I think they did a really good job. It spawned two sequels that did a nice job at the box office each.
In this movie, the Bellagio played as much of a role as the main actors did. Making this movie forever linked to the dancing fountains as much as it links a Pretty Woman making her grand entrance down a grand staircase that no longer exists. Creating the illusion that in Vegas, anything is possible!
#1 Casino (1995)
Not a real surprise to any Las Vegas aficionado!! The ultimate movie about Las Vegas during the Mob era as you can get! So close in its details and stories, it could almost be classified as Non-Fiction! It’s also one of violence, profanity, and ego-driven craziness! But what do you expect? It’s Vegas!
The story of the Stardust, the mob’s ways of protecting the skim and its profits. Showing off the greed that fueled the mob families ambitions as well as the Vegas Boom. Casino shows what happens when your eyes get glazed over with all the possibilities that you forget why you were there and what can happen when you fail to follow the rules of the Mob.
If you want to know more from the source, I got to interview one of the mobsters that played in the movie as well as being one of the technical advisors in the movie: Frank Cullotta
Any of these movies on your list of Favorite vegas Movies?
Obviously, this is not “The Ultimate” list of popular Vegas themed movies. There is no such list because of the variety of movies that could be included in it! But its a great memory jogger when you are looking for a movie to get you back into that Vegas State of Mind.
So I want to know what would be your top 5 Vegas Movies??
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