No one needs a hint to figure out what this movie is about. This is a crime drama that fetched the inimitable James Caan a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. It is one movie that gambling purists could easily identify with. Caan plays the role of Axel Freed, a New York City Harvard University professor who becomes a reckless gambler deep in debt. At college he is a source of inspiration for his students as he discusses Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works on psychology. But there’s this other side to the professor.
Freed’s gambling problem gets him to a stage where his bookie, Hips, begins to threaten him to pay up. Unfortunately, this situation left him $44,000 in the red, which he borrows from his mother. However, instead of clearing his slate with Hips the bookie, Freed heads straight to The Strip with Billie, his girlfriend, and after a winning streak ends up going bust on basketball bets. Billie is disgusted when loan sharks start to frequent their apartment every night, which leads to frequent fights between them. His grandfather turns his request for a loan down as well.
Left with little or no options, Freed does the unthinkable. He gets one of his students who is a basketball star, to fix a game so that he can pay off his creditors. His gamble pays off but despite being warned by his bookie to stay away from a ghetto, Freed makes his way there and gets into a fight with a pimp. He ends with slashes across the face, which doesn’t seem to disturb him even though he sees blood oozing from the wounds. The climax is brilliant, get hold of the movie if you can.