Las Vegas is one of the most iconic and unique cities.
Its contrast and contradictions have inspired many filmmakers throughout the years to set their movies in this glittering city. As you’ll see, many films in this list are set in The Strip, casinos, and other Vegas locations. More importantly, though, what ties these movies together is how the characters see Vegas as a wonderland to escape into. Here is our selection of 10 quintessential films set in Las Vegas.
1.Ocean’s Eleven (1960)-The Desert Inn, Sahara, Riviera, Flamingo, and Sands
Let’s start with the classic that started a beloved franchise that has withstood the test of time, the 1960s Ocean’s Eleven. The all-star cast was the real-life infamous Hollywood Rat Pack. Las Vegas as we know it today was still in its infancy. So this film definitely helped build the image that we have of Vegas today.
2.Army Of The Dead (2021)- MGM Grand Hotel
Zack Synder delivers a new and fresh take into the zombie movie genre with his 2021 Army of the Dead. Who knew a Vegas movie heist needed a dash of the undead? Army of the Dead takes place in a literal Sin City, following a group mission to retrieve $200 million from a Las Vegas casino. The only caveat is that the city has been overtaken by zombies, including a zombie tiger. (not the only Vegas tiger on this list) The Las Vegas Strip, particularly the front of the MGM Grand Hotel, are backdrops of iconic Vegas spots.
3.Viva Las Vegas (1964)- Little Church Of The West
Elvis Presley stars in this iconic Vegas musical. Viva Las Vegas was fast-tracked into production without a script or even a concept, but just on The King of Rock And Roll’s star power. Presley starred alongside Ann-Margret, who shared fantastic on-screen chemistry. The film’s climactic scenes were filmed at The Little Church of the West wedding chapel, which happens to be the oldest building on the entire Las Vegas Strip.
4.Diamonds Are Forever (1971)- Las Vegas Hilton
Vegas and Bond are a match made in heaven, or rather, a 1970s glitzy casino. Sean Connery is one (if not) the most iconic Bond in the decades-long franchise. In this film, Bond is tracking down international diamond smugglers culminating at the Whyte House casino on the Vegas Strip. However, they actually filmed in the Las Vegas Hilton instead.
5.Casino (1995)- Landmark Hotel, Rivera Casino
Another quintessential Vegas film has to be Martin Scorsese’s crime drama Casino. Robert De Niro delivers one of his most memorable performances as a man sent to run a Vegas casino for the mob. The opulent casino in the film “The Tangiers” was created by filming in Landmark Hotel and the Riviera Casino which are both now defunct.
6.Leaving Las Vegas (1995)- Streets of Vegas
In an Oscar-winning performance, Nicholas Cage plays a suicidal alcoholic determined to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. This low-budget and risky film did not show the glitz and glamour we’re accustomed to seeing on the screen. However, Nicholas Cage earned an Oscar for his outstanding performance! Director Mike Figgis wanted to depict the grim and seedy side of the city and worked around their low budget to get it done. They couldn’t afford to shut down the Strip or other iconic Vegas locations, so the film is as authentic as it gets.
7.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)- Stardust Resort and Casino
This late 90s film is not your average depiction of Vegas. It is based on literary genius Hunter S Thompson’s work. Johnny Depp fully commits to his role and inhabits his character remarkably well. The film didn’t have a huge Hollywood budget, so they could only film in casinos from 2-6 a.m! This trippy film shows a side of 1970s Vegas that is rarely seen. Filming took place in the now-defunct Stardust Resort and Casino.
8.Ocean’s Eleven (2001)- The Bellagio
Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven introduced a whole new generation to the crew of the coolest thieves around. The cast comprises the top A-listers like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts! The twist and turns will keep you guessing, and the fabulous Vegas setting will completely charm you. The Bellagio was the setting for the film, and its opulence fit right in with Ocean’s Eleven.
9.The Hangover (2009)- Caesars Palace, Las Vegas Boulevard
This 2000s comedy classic showed all that could go horribly wrong at a bachelor party in Vegas but still managed to make everyone want to book tickets to their own Sin City adventure. The movie is about a group of friends who have to work together to figure out what happened the night before, whilst recovering from the worst hangover ever, wild tigers included. There was extensive filming in the one and only Caesars Palace and several external shots on Las Vegas Boulevard.
10.The Big Short(2015)- Caesars Palace
Based on the 2008 mortgage bubble burst, this film is primarily set on Wall Street and might seem a strange choice for this list. However, near the end of the film, the Wall Street outsiders who are betting against our financial system (and turned out to be oh so right) go on a research expedition to Vegas. There are several Vegas locations, including the luxurious pools at Caesars Palace. However, the Vegas scene that stands out is the outstanding cameo by Selena Gomez and Dr. Richard Thaler, father of behavioral economics. In the scene, they explain how the seemingly complex synthetic CDO works over a game of poker. What’s more Vegas than that?