The film starred James Caan as the lead character, Axel Freed, a New York City English professor with a pathological gambling addiction which slowly but surely escalates out of control. Although Freed is a man of great intellect and charm, his addiction leads him from one calamity to another, even as far as extorting hefty sums of money from his mother and girlfriend in order to repay his bookie — but he blows the extorted money on yet more bets.
Towards the end of the film, Freed is forced to lure one of his students, a basketball champion, into accepting a bribe to rig the game he is playing in and which Axel is betting on so that he can win money and pay off his debts. Freed is so disgusted with himself by this time, having corrupted an innocent young student who trusted him implicitly, that he does the unthinkable. The feelings of self-indignation lead him to confront a dangerous loan shark to whom he owes money. This has disastrous consequences ending with him getting beaten and disfigured for life. James Caan won a Golden Globe award for his role in the film.
Scorcese is indeed very keen to sink his teeth into a remaking of The Gambler, and wants Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead character Axel Freed, originally played by Caan. But DiCaprio has not yet made a decision.
Scorcese is very busy of late and timing could be the biggest issue. Not least because he has his production of Hugo, about to go on general release, and he’s preparing to make a film adaptation from a novel called Silence. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention another project he has in the making currently being scripted and also starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street, scheduled for a 2013 release.
So there’s plenty for Scorcese fans to be excited about.
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