Of course, there are tons of movies that are completely set in Las Vegas, but in this 5-part mini-series (inspired by wife's trip to Vegas this week) I’m talking about those scenes in cross-country road-trip movies in which the Nevada gambling mecca makes a brief cameo appearance.
Because of such scenes, 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 from the movies. 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.
We’ll start the countdown of Obligatory Road-Trip Vegas Scenes with:
#5: STARMAN (Dir. John Carpenter, 1984)
Way before he was “The Dude,” Jeff Bridges got an Oscar nomination for his role as an alien being (only identified as “Starman” although nobody calls him that in the film), who has taken the form of a recently deceased Wisconsin man. Karen Allen plays the man’s widow, Jenny Hayden, who has to deal with the craziness of having the physical presence of her husband back again, but his body is being controlled by something that came from Outer Space.
Jenny is abducted by Starman, but, as expected, she falls for him during their road trip to Meteor Crater in the desert of Arizona where he can meet up with his alien buddies on a very CLOSE ENCOUNTERS-looking mothership.
Before they get there, they catch a lift into downtown Las Vegas (Bridges’ bird-like movements when reacting to the world of bright lights surrounding him is priceless), where Jenny sees that the Starman can make the slot machines do what he wants them to do.
Carpenter cuts to Starman and Jenny walking through Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. Despite his earlier win, Jenny is skeptical about pulling this off, and wants them to start small, but Starman is already working his magic on a Super Jackpot machine that advertises a $500,000 Payoff.
Those amazing alien powers work like a charm.
The next cut is to Starman and Jenny driving a brand new Camaro out of town. It’s one of the funniest shots in the movie.
I always loved scenes like this when I was a kid. An alien or somebody with super natural powers can easily make a bunch of money by taking a trip to Vegas and manipulating the machines with their minds. How would these gifted ones deal with playing poker online on sites like this I wonder.
So I suppose the house always wins unless a member of a superior alien race is playing the game.
Stay tuned for Obligatory Road Trip Vegas Scene #4.