With dynamic action, built-in tension and unpredictable outcomes, it's no surprise that craps is one of the movie maker's favourite casino games. From slick heist movies to tense psychological thrillers, craps is a regular on our screens. In fact, craps has been attracting the attention of camera since the very beginning of movies, way back at the turn of the twentieth century.
While you sometimes find card games like poker featured in films, filmmakers prefer games that are more visual and easier for the viewer to follow, such as roulette or craps. As the dice bounce down the table and come to a stop, the audience can see immediately whether the roll is a winner or loser, without the need to understand a complex hierarchy of hands. What's more, the layout of the craps table, with players and partners all around the edge, is perfect for building the atmosphere and showcasing the stars. No one needs to maintain a poker face here, so the emotions can be writ large.
Craps is often used as a major plot device in films, with the outcome of the game affecting the fortunes of the players in more than just a monetary sense. In 1993's Indecent Proposal, struggling young couple David and Dianna (Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore) win big at craps, only to lose big at roulette the next day. When Diana takes the dice for Robert Redford's billionaire high roller, John, she ends up rolling a million dollar win for him which he then offers to the couple in exchange for one special night with her.
Love is also the real stakes when Sharon Stone stirs things up at the craps table in the king of all gambling movies, Casino, as she tries to make Robert De Niro fall in love with her.
Continuing the mix of dice and 'dames', 'Luck be a Lady' is the theme song to Marlon Brando's craps session in the 1955 classic,Â Guys and Dolls, as he rolls the dice to try and save the love of his life.
More big names play for big wins in the second sequel of the Ocean's series,Ocean's 13. Here George Clooney uses loaded dice to win back Elliot Gould's casino from former partner, Al Pacino.
Craps have such visual appeal, and such a rich history on the streets as well as in the casino, that they have been a feature of films from the very start. Back in 1900, the short film,Â Shooting Craps, shows a group of African Americans rolling the bones' in a back-alley game. Soon they are spotted by the police and a crazy tussle ensues in what at the time must have been the very height of comic film making.
While craps is normally used as a vehicle for the wider plot, in some films it is the central theme. For example, the 1987 Matt Dillon movieÂ The Big Town, follows the career of talented dice-man, J.C. Cullen, as he moves from Chicago to Vegas in pursuit of the big wins, only to find that he is not as good at life as he is at dice games.
Craps is also central to the plot of William H. Macy's 2003 picture,Â The Cooler, in which he plays a man who is such a jinx that he is hired by a casino to break high roller's winning streaks at the craps table in a twist on traditional,Â casino heat. Once again, falling in love changes everything, as it always seems to do in the movies.
Even James Bond is no stranger to the craps table, even if he normally prefers Baccarat. Perhaps the best of the Bond films to feature our favourite dice game isÂ Diamonds are Forever. Here 007 teams up with dice-man, Plenty O'Toole to snare his latest victim.
Today, craps remains one of the most popular casino games, both with players and movie directors. And when you add in the strong metaphor of the roll of the dice representing the ups and downs of life, the game is certain to keep its starring role on the silver screen for many years to come. When it comes to box office wins, the dice seem to be definitely loaded in the studios' favour.