Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Obligatory Road-Trip Vegas Scene #4: RAINMAN

As my wife is in Las Vegas right now for the NAB Show, in this 5-part series I’m taking a look at those scenes in cross-country road-trip movies in which the Nevada gambling mecca makes a brief cameo appearance. Because of scenes like these, when I was a kid I never thought anybody actually lived in Vegas - I just thought everybody on a road trip would have to stop there, gamble then got back on the road to somewhere else.

Only when I visited there for the first time in 2009, did I see it as an actual living breathing community and not just a place that pops up on the big and small screen every now and then. I understand why I held onto those cinematic visions of Vegas for so long – the place is so surreal and outlandish that it seems like it could only exist in the movies.

So here’s Obligatory Road Trip Vegas Scene #4: Barry Levinson's RAINMAN (1988)

This one is similar to the Vegas scene in #5 (STARMAN), except Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbit doesn’t have supernatural powers – he’s an autistic savant who has an incredible memory. Raymond’s brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise) realizes that he can exploit it by counting cards in Vegas and winning big. In the car on the way into town, Charlie tells Raymond: “Casinos have house rules. The first one is they don’t like to lose. So you never never show that you are counting cards. That is *the* cardinal sin, Ray.” “Counting is bad.” Raymond replies.

Once in Vegas, Charlie pawns his watch and the film cuts to a quick montage of shots of Caesar’s Palace. The brothers aren’t there to take in the sights though – Charlie briskly takes his brother to one of the clothes shops in the Forum so they can get suited up in Armani and hit the Blackjack tables (Incidentally the shot of them making their entrance on the escalator into the casino was memorably parodied in THE HANGOVER).

Check out the RAINMAN Vegas scene here:

For folks who’ve never been to Vegas, but only fantasized about it while playing online casino games, scenes like this give them all the noisy spectacle of the strip in an appealing glitzy flash. Love that funky Hans Zimmer synthesizer score driving the sequence too.

More later...

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