Croupier (1998) - Synopsis
"He wasn't exactly invisible. He was transparent.
He wasn't a gambler. He wasn't one of the punters.
He was that still, unturning centre of the spinning wheel of misfortune.
And that little white ball bounced around him all night long.
It didn't affect him one way or the other. He was master of the game.
His name was Jack and he was the croupier. "
Jack Manfred is down on his luck, without a job and his first novel has been rejected. He asks his publisher friend Giles Cremorne for a job. Giles tells him he is looking for personality authors.
Jack gets a phone call from his father in South Africa. Jack Sr, himself a life-long gambler, has set up an interview for Jack, through his contacts, at a casino in London. It might lead to a job, but Jack hesitates. Brought up on the circuit in South Africa, gambling represents an unhappy past that Jack wants to forget. But he desperately needs a job and a salary.
Trained by his father, Jack is a brilliant croupier. He has style and he knows all the tricks. He soon impresses David Reynolds, the casino manager and the job is his. Reynolds tells Jack the house rules: he must never gamble; friendships between croupiers are discouraged and it's forbidden to talk to a punter outside the casino.
Jack's girlfriend, Marion, an ex-policewoman and now a store detective, is surprised to find out he trained as a croupier.
At the casino, Jack meets a couple of the other croupiers: Bella, who he is attracted to and Matt, who shows no regard for the casino's rules.
Jack's all night work begins to affect his relationship with Marion, and his writing is blocked.
One night, Jani de Villiers enters his life. She is an attractive woman gambler from South Africa. Jack is impressed when she quits the game while she is ahead. Later that night Jack tells Matt he has seen him cheating and if he catches him again he will report him.
Jack bumps into Jani and they go for a drink together. They have things in common and they like each other. Jani understands the casino world.
One night, Jack has a fight in the street with a man he had caught cheating. Bella pulls Jack away and they spend the rest of the night together.
The turn in Jack's life has an unexpected effect on his writing. He suddenly finds the true theme of his novel. He starts afresh on a story about a croupier - himself.
Bella is replaced at the casino. Jani plays the tables but loses money. Marion reads Jack's book and tells him she doesn't like it, as it's without hope. Bella turns up at the flat and accuses Jack of getting her fired.
Jack bumps into Giles in a bookshop and is invited to a house party for the weekend. Jack takes Jani. During the night, Jack discovers that Jani is not what she seemed. She owes money and is afraid for her life. She begs Jack for help. Jani is involved with criminals who plan to rob the casino where he works. They need an inside man. Jack refuses.
Jani offers him £10,000 with the promise of more when it's over. Jack still refuses. Then he gets to thinking what the money would buy: financial freedom to write. He changes his mind.
By chance, Marion finds the advance for the job, which Jack has hidden. Then she overhears a phone message from Jani; she gets suspicious.
On the night of the robbery, police appear at the casino. Someone has grassed. The heist fails, but Jack is in the clear. No one suspects him. No one except Marion. She confronts him, gives him an ultimatum: quit the job which is ruining his life, or she will inform the police about his involvement in the heist.
Jack returns to his book. One night the police come to his flat. Marion has been killed, apparently knocked down by a passing car. But was it really an accident? Full of guilt, Jack finishes his novel.
The book, "Croupier", is published anonymously and becomes a best-seller. Jack is rich. But there remains one last turn of the wheel: a phone call from Jani in South Africa. She is with Jack's father and they are to be married. Jack Sr had been dealing the cards to his son all along.