A Tale of Two Losers

Recently, I saw two gambling movies. The first was Owning Mahowny, which was recommended to me by "Boris" (not the soon to be future leader of the Free World) after he read my previous article on gambling movies I wrote a few years ago. The other movie was Mississippi Grind. Both movies are about gambling losers though the movies couldn't be any more different as they are a contrast of reality and Hollywood. 

Owning Mahowny is based on the true story of Brian Molony, a Toronto bank official, who had an addiction to gambling. In the movie it is safe to say that Mahowny's skill at gambling is non-existent, often placing blanket bets on future race cards and the week's basketball games with no selection method apparent.


Mahowny also makes regular trips to the casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. As to be expected, Mahowny gets into debt and to pay off his bookmaker Mahowny, and fund the casino trips, he embezzles money from his bank. The Canadian police are already investigating Mahowny's bookmaker and only by accident do they discover the embezzling. The movie is rather humdrum and there is nothing to endear the viewer to Mahowny. We see Mahowny trapped in an endless cycle of addiction with no enjoyment of his gambling activities.

Contrast Mahowny to Gerry, the loser in Mississippi Grind. Gerry is a real-estate salesman. His habit has cost him his marriage and he spends evenings playing poker in order to pay off his debts (which appear to be divorce and work related). Gerry meets Curtis a brash younger gambler who helps Gerry make a few winning bets before the two decide to go on a gambling road trip.


I won't go into any depth as the movie is a lot more interesting than Owning Mahowny and worth a view. No doubt this is due to the movie being fiction rather than reality where a down on his heels Gerry is raised out of the gutter by luck and willpower. Something that is unlikely to happen to real gambling addicts such as Brian Molony. It is unfortunate that the more realistic movie is the least watchable of the two.

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