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California Split (1974)
 
 
This is an Altman film. Its artistic in its format, i.e. it doesn't have one that you can identify.

The story details the haphazard lives of two compulsive gamblers searching for that ever-elusive big score. Newly single and soon-to-be-unemployed Bill (George Segal) joins live-wire pal Charlie (Elliott Gould), as the pair move from Fruit Loops with Charlie's hooker roommates Sue (Gwen Welles) and Barbara (Ann Prentiss) to bets on horses, backroom card games, boxing, and basketball.

They make it to Las Vegas, but Bill comes to realize that even the big score may not be the answer to the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life. For Charlie, however, that's all there is.

Altman produces a "celebration of gambling" that is in itself something of a game, filled with random incidents, trivial and serious, amusing and not, that emphasize the essential rootlessness of the gambler's life.
 
California Split is one of Altman's trademark character-driven films. It is less concerned with plot than behaviour as we watch the friendship between Bill and Charlie develop over a mutual love of gambling. As the film progresses and the two men hang out more, Bill starts to become more addicted to the gambling lifestyle. He blows off work early to meet Charlie at the track and sells his possessions for money. Bill and Charlie are gambling addicts who ride the high arcs and the low valleys, never passing up a bet. At a boxing match they put money on the outcome of the fight with a fellow spectator.
 
Plot Synopsis: A down on his luck gambler (George Seagal) links up with free spirit Elliot Gould at first to have some fun on, but then gets into debt when Gould takes an unscheduled trip to Tijuana. As a final act of desperation, he pawns most of his possessions and goes to Reno for the poker game of a lifetime. A film set mainly in casinos and races, as the two win and lose (but mainly win), get robbed, and get blind drunk.
Marks : 6½//10
Director Robert Altman George Segal William Denny
Writing Joseph Walsh Elliott Gould Charlie Waters
Cinematography Paul Lohmann Ann Prentiss Barbara Miller
    Gwen Welles Susan Peters
 
 
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