California Split - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

California Split Reviews

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½ September 3, 2014
George Segal, Elliott Gould AND a young Jeff Goldblum?
Phwoar!
½ August 3, 2014
"California Split" vence como filme sobretudo pela forma como nos envolve na camaradagem entre dois apostadores compulsivos, que não mereceriam a mesma empatia se estivessem isolados um do outro. O que Altman consegue, com a sua habitual encenação livre e narrativa ambígua, é deixar que cada um, se assim entender, opte pela amizade ou pela fortuna como o prémio a atribuir aos dois principais personagens. E nada disto é assim tão certo porque há sempre 6 ou 7 maneiras diferentes de ver o mesmo filme de Robert Altman. De resto há também que dizer que nunca haveria um "Sideways" sem primeiro haver este "California Split".
ElCochran90
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2014
This review contains spoilers.

Surpassing the immediate comparison called The Cincinnati Kid (1965) in a number of ways, California Split can be still considered today as the most important character-analysis rendition of the nightwalker, daysleeper, risk-seeker compulsive gambler.

One of Altman's most notorious film trademarks is his ability to bring realistic scenarios to life. Despite the big variety of gambling locations, social places such as pubs, and domestic settings present in the film, the minimalistic camera along with a grand screenplay and a powerful duo of leading performances from the Segal/Gould duo absorb your senses fully to the portrayed environment, where the intensity of gambling, the tension of being mugged (twice in a row) and the humor of the jokes and the naturalistic situations become pretty much tangible to the viewer. Reportedly, in these filming locations, professional gamblers and ex-drug addicts were employed instead of extras. Altman's interest in constructing realistic settings can be even highlighted with a little piece of trivia:

"A number of the extras and background artists were members of Synanon which is organization for former drug addicts."
IMDB Trivia Section

With these, the extremely low probability of a winning streak like the one portrayed here (I did a mathematical approximation, and the number of zeros after the decimal point before any different number appears was very amusing) is almost completey forgiven, despite how ludicrous it is, for a simple reason: Altman's hidden ace in the hole. The two leading roles were drastically different regarding their intentions for gambling. One loved to win. One was used to lose. One was a risk-seeker, which from an Economics point of view means that he gets more satisfaction from both expected return and risk. The other wasn't. He sought the risk, but maybe subconsciously expected to lose as a form of self-punishment, as in an attempt to bring himself down to the lowest possible point of his life, which is purposely left vague. Paradoxically, he becomes disappointed after having a "winning streak", which maybe caused an epiphany in him, after realizing not only the extent of his dangerous actions and the life he is having, but also realizing the existence of an addiction.

And this last point is the one that elevates the film's status to a higher significant level of quality. In case this wasn't enough, ahilariously conceived scene at an escalator with oranges involved, some curious homosexual undertones between the gambling duo, and an epically funny scene involving the discussion of the names of the Seven Dwarves add extra value to this stylish, jazzy product.

77/100
½ March 23, 2014
Just a good movie, hard to say why. Elliott Gould and the strong ending basically made it for me. A real solid character piece.
July 4, 2013
Exceptionally seedy tale of two guys who let gambling overtake their lives. That sounds depressing but the film is something of a comedy, especially because it stars Elliott Gould, in rare form as a free-spirited hustler, and George Segal, as a rather more straight-laced magazine editor down on his luck but open to possibilities. Altman uses 8-track sound (i.e. 8 microphones) to ratchet up the ambience -- lots of overheard and overlapping improvisation going on -- and there are a lot of "authentic" extras here, gambling their lives away. As I mentioned, the people are seedy, the gambling rooms (apart from Reno) and the track are seedy. There's fighting, part-time prostitution, beer and froot loops, and the dream and desperation of winning big. However, is that's really what these guys want? Not as great as McCabe and Mrs. Miller or The Long Goodbye -- with less of a plot and possibly more character development -- this is sticking with me the next day.
July 1, 2013
Like all of Altman, its about something else - and its a wild ride through addiction with this little-seen 1974 excursion. Two unforgettable guys, two prostitues with hearts of gold and a plethora of background stories make up the tapestry here but were left with a hollow feeling come the fianle as we come to realize we've witnessed a true 'rock bottom' moment for one of our characters. More powerful than most Intervention episodes I've seen...
January 29, 2013
A lot of 70's movies sucked!!!
January 6, 2013
good caper/buddy movie about gamblers
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2013
I think this is one of Robert Altman's best's and it's very funny too. It's one of those all good things must come to an end pictures with two great stars. I love the way how Altman introduces me to the game of poker and gambling and the characters who overlap and talk whenever they please.
December 9, 2012
Classic Altman. George Segal and Elliott Gould--god the '70s!!!!--are both terrific here as two guys who meet and bond over gambling. Loose and rambling but quite charming. Gould is especially outstanding. You really wanna hang out with these guys, and the two "ladies of the night" Gould lives with. A terrific surprise.
½ November 16, 2012
There are some pretty hilarious scenes in this film.
October 5, 2012
I loved this one. It shows you why gambling is so hard to stop. It also shows what gambling rooms are like in NY back in the 70s. It was fun.
August 28, 2012
Excellent, loose-limbed gambling film, with Segal and Gould as betting buddies who take an odyssey through everything from racing tracks to back-room poker and everything in between. Lots of great character action and interaction. Altman keeps the pace brisk and light, even when things get more contemplative. Interesting especially in coming out the same year, 1974, as "The Gambler," which was definitely darker. The music, such as it is, comes from a bawdy lady piano singer who provides entertaining counterpoint to the action.
December 16, 2011
segal and gould in a great movie classic, awesome 70s movie to watch.
November 18, 2011
Golden observational moments in a movie about two degenerate gamblers. It's alive with humor and life. Wonderful.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
Altman's hilarious look at compulsive gambling is perhaps his most underrated film.
October 25, 2011
Not a typical Altman movie in that there is a sparse number of characters we are invited to explore. Here, the most tangible character is the Casino itself, which seems to haunt every aspect of what appears on screen. The same stifling atmosphere that permeates the opening scene continues throughout the film and throughout the characters actions. We are, like our lead character Bill (played by George Segal), trapped among a throng of irritated, desperate, restless people. Even if we wanted to get out, we would find it almost impossible to move. Even shots outside the casinos are framed tightly and surrounded by close hallways and tiny rooms. Truly, the story plays precisely like a trip to Vegas, both for Bill and for us: we arrive and are stimulated by the chaos and energy, encouraged by a happenstance friend to act more reckless than we ever would in the outside world, quickly find ourselves in over our heads but attempting to chase last night's rush...then Sunday arrives and all you want to do is get out of there. Your skin is crawling and all you can see is the basest parts of humanity laid bare around you and you're horrified
October 13, 2011
This is Robert Altman's underrated saga about two men who do nothing but gamble. What is truly interesting about the film in comparison to ones like 'The Hustler' is that in this film, the addicts never lose- at least not materialistically. The film builds and builds in stakes and tension until its big payoff, where Bill (George Segal) and Charlie (Elliot Gould) hit it big thanks to their addiction. They don't lose, technically, but there is so much tragedy and loss in the film's final frames that we are left with a feeling of unshakable sadness, one similar to that shown on Bill's face as he exits the film. Some of the scenes in the film gave me a headache, and I mean that as a credit to Altman, not as a criticism. His signature sound mix- an amalgam of noise in which an entire space, rather than a few characters, is given precedence- paints a better picture of the environment of race tracks and casinos than probably any other movie, and Altman asks us to get used to the conditions or get out. Those who choose to stick around will find that this is one of Altman's most enjoyable films, one that is filled with great comic moments but one that is also unfairly overlooked as the great dramatic movie that it is.
September 29, 2011
Not a typical Altman movie in that there is a sparse number of characters we are invited to explore. Here, the most tangible character is the Casino itself, which seems to haunt every aspect of what appears on screen. The same stifling atmosphere that permeates the opening scene continues throughout the film and throughout the characters actions. We are, like our lead character Bill (played by George Segal), trapped among a throng of irritated, desperate, restless people. Even if we wanted to get out, we would find it almost impossible to move. Even shots outside the casinos are framed tightly and surrounded by close hallways and tiny rooms. Truly, the story plays precisely like a trip to Vegas, both for Bill and for us: we arrive and are stimulated by the chaos and energy, encouraged by a happenstance friend to act more reckless than we ever would in the outside world, quickly find ourselves in over our heads but attempting to chase last night's rush...then Sunday arrives and all you want to do is get out of there. Your skin is crawling and all you can see is the basest parts of humanity laid bare around you and you're horrified.
Super Reviewer
July 21, 2011
An amusing and completely uncategorizable film that captures the mood of its period, an atmosphere long gone by now where the low life and unstable compulsive gamblers round up looking for little green papers to pass through the week or more hopefully to heal their wounds. As some other works by its director, it feels over talky, anarchic, scattered, erratic, but he always gets the best out of his cast, giving them time to improvise and take it to the wildest, in the case of Elliot Gould. He and George Segal were perfect for the job, the chemistry is real, un rehearsed. Although the story doesn't take much chances, the reliance on its actors' charm is what makes it quite enjoyable.
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