Fade To (22) Black
Is it just me, or do filmmakers have A Thing about 22 Black on the roulette wheel?
On one hand, the likelihood that it's just me is pretty high; 22 is my lucky number, so it's more noticeable to me than, say, double zero, which would probably rank much higher on a master list of notable roulette bets in film and TV.
The number itself is of negligible importance, of course. Carolus Chess tries to apply the significance of 22 in numerology and tarot to the plot of the film, but the Annina/Jan sequence serves primarily to parallel Rick and Ilsa, and to make that parallel explicit to Rick; the selection of 22 may have had some personal import to the screenwriters or playwrights, but is otherwise random.
Less random, in my opinion, is 22 Black's appearance in The Sting. I love that movie and can quote entire scenes from memory, yet I hadn't noticed until someone (possibly Simon Abrams?) pointed it out that, when Hooker blows what's left of his grift take at the roulette table, he loses on 22 Black. In my defense, 1) the shot, which appears in the trailer below just before the minute mark, cuts away from the wheel almost immediately to get back to the set-up work the scene is trying to do; 2) the pertinent part of the bet is the color (Hooker bets red — attaboy); and 3) I inevitably get distracted by Crystal's weirdly pissy reaction in the next scene anyway.
Coincidence? If Hooker had merely guessed wrong, sure, but he didn't; he lost to a rigged wheel, so I suspect it's an homage.
The third instance is another movie I can quote at length, Lost In America. The wheel here isn't rigged, and while Albert Brooks certainly made that reference purposefully, he flips the script: Linda Howard can't stop betting 22, and loses everything.
Other examples must exist; as I said, once you can trace a film furbelow's ancestry to Casablanca, it ups the chances that you'll find snippets of its DNA all over the place. I could have sworn that 22 Black showed up in Run Lola Run as well, but Lola hits 20 Black, not 22. Got any other 22 Black sightings?
Tags: Albert Brooks Franka Potente Humphrey Bogart Julie Hagerty movies Robert Redford Simon Abrams