There have been many movies about sporting events including the Rocky films which featured boxing, Paul Newman played pool in “The Hustler” and casinos, especially roulette, featured in many James Bond films. The male lead Gaylord in the famous musical movie “Showboat” was a professional gambler who played cards on voyages up and down the Mississippi.
When national lotteries were first introduced there were many movies and stage plays about people winning the lottery, people losing the lottery and people thinking they had won the lottery and discovering they hadn’t.
But several movies have also featured bingo hall scenes. The 1950s and 60s were the heyday of Bingo in the UK when it was the highlight of the week for Mums from Northern towns go to Bingo on a Friday night. It was the social occasion of the week where they met their friends and caught up with the local gossip. If the game was not seen to be played it was talked about in all the British films from those decades such as “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”.
With the onset of the National Lottery the popularity of bingo faded as the women who had frequented the bingo halls now spent their housekeeping money on the lottery which promised them the chance to become millionaires in one single night.
But bingo has now regained its popularity and bingo halls and parlors are springing up in every city and doing a thriving business. They have refreshment counters and bars and slot machines to play in the interval and as it has become a favorite pastime again so it is being featured in more movies. These range from animated films to adult action movies where people play for high stakes and tensions rise in the bingo hall.
Top Five Bingo Movies.
1. Beach Blanket Bingo.
Although this movie was released in 1965 it still tops the list as the favourite bingo movie of all time.It is the fifth in the Beach Party film series starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as Frankie and Dee. The kids hang out in the local bingo parlor and finding a place on the beach is like playing a game of bingo, if you are lucky you can get the best place. There is plenty of rock and roll and nostalgic 60s fun in the sun and it gives you an insight into Southern California teenage beach culture.
2. King of the Bingo Game
This is only a short film, 26 minutes long, but it is the best example of a bingo hall in the New York depression of 1943. Based on a short story by Ralph Ellison it follows a struggling African American Sonny who is desperate to win big money to take home to his family. Colman Domingo gives such a good performance as Sonny you feel for him all the way. Some of the movie is shot in black and white with the brightly colored bingo wheel as the central feature. Sonny watches it, sweat pouring down his face, tensions rise in the hall as you watch the lights spinning and you are willing Sonny to win.
This 1999 movie is not for the faint-hearted. Written and directed by Uwe Boll it is apparently based on a true story. A man bent on revenge dresses in full body armour and embarks on a killing spree. One scene is set in a bingo parlor where the players are real, not actors. They are so engrossed in their game they do not notice the stranger who enters the hall dressed in a strange costume. He orders a sandwich and drink which he does not pay for then goes menacingly towards the female bingo caller and grabs a ball. The hall is packed with players and as the killer strolls around you are never sure what his next move will be.
4. Bad grandpa
Grandpa is very bad, he gives is infant grandson alcohol and cigarettes then drives him to the bingo hall where the child is left in the car while his grandfather tries his luck inside. He amazes his neighbours by mixing margaritas at the table and knocks them back while the child in the car is also knocking back his alcohol oblivious of the wait while his Grandpa waits for his numbers to come up.
5. Hotel Transylvania
This animated family film is about Dracula who owns a luxury resort for monsters so they can get away from human beings. The film features a game of bingo where the caller is a large woman and the balls have been replaced by skulls in a cage which the caller spins round. A delighted monster calls out “Bingo” when his number comes up only for his neighbour to steal the winning card and eat it before it can be checked.
If you haven’t heard of “The Coup” already it is an upcoming action thriller staring Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson. The film tells a story of a business man and his family stuck in a war zone where foreigners are being executed. The screen play was written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. Filming started in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Dec 2013.