Somewhat ironically, Toback’s most overtly autobiographical film, The Gambler, was directed by someone else (who he apparently hated so much that he vowed to never work with him again), which was ultimately to the film’s great artistic benefit. Luckily for Toback, virtually everyone involved with the film was a fellow member of the Hebraic tribe, including Brit-Czech-Jew director Karel Reisz (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Isadora), stereotype-shattering Jewish tough guy star James Caan, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, degenerate jazz composer Jerry Fielding (notably, the film also features “Symphony No. 1 in D” by late-Romantic Ashkenazi composer Gustav Mahler), and even cinematographer Victor J. Kemper. Largely autobiographical but also loosely based off of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short existentialist novella The Gambler (1867), Toback’s film is, culturally/racially speaking, shamelessly Judaic to the core as a rare mainstream cinematic work where Jewish chutzpah, (sado)masochism, white collar criminality, blonde shiksa worship, and ethnocentrism are central themes. Indeed, no one cannot finish the film without coming to the obvious conclusion that Toback is an unsympathetic scumbag that fully deserves (and seemingly desires) the grand misfortunes that he masochistically sires via his own unhinged egomania. In many ways, Toback’s outstandingly assholish autobiographical antihero is an unintentional anti-Semitic racial caricature worthy of Julius Streicher’s National Socialist tabloid Der Stürmer and, were it not for lead Caan’s inordinate Hebraic handsomeness and stoicism, the film might be completely unbearable, even if Reisz is a very capable and even somewhat underrated filmmaker (indeed, for what it is, Reisz’s John Fowles adaptation The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) is nearly immaculate). Although also a member of the tribe, it seems that Reisz highly benefited from coming from a European arthouse background (in fact, it is probably no coincidence that many of cinema history's greatest Jewish filmmakers, ranging from Erich von Stroheim to Josef von Sternberg to Stanley Kubrick, were either European-born and/or worked in Europe).
While I rarely agree with Kael’s opinions of films, she is right on the mark when she mocks Toback’s uniquely unlovable kosher prince, who absurdly plays the self-appointed patron saint of ghetto negroes and athletes while living a disgustingly decadent self-indulgent existence where he pisses away the wealth and opportunities that his rather privileged background afford him. Hardly motivated by empathy, the protagonist's shvartzer fetish seems to be mainly due to his misguided admiration for the stereotypical impulsive, intemperate, and irrational nature of negroes. In short, the titular character is the sort of establishment leftist type that, influenced by the delusional pseudo-scientific Boasian view of race, would deny innate differences among the races, yet adores darkies largely due to exaggerated racial stereotypes that he, as a pampered white collar Israelite, totally lacks. After all, the intriguingly incriminating film was penned by a man that is well known for bragging about engaging in orgies with black football players. Far from a mindless moron that foolishly gambles money he does not have because he is desperate and/or simply does not know better, the antihero is a self-destructive addict and anxiety junky who is quite conscious of the true psychological nature of his vice and its deleteriousness, yet proudly partakes in it anyway while boasting about intentionally making risky gambles instead of safe ones. Indeed, Paramount Pictures took a big risk when they opted to produce the film, as the protagonist is nothing if not a distinctly unlikable mensch-that-you love-to-hate. Surely, one of the things that makes The Gambler so special is that it features an eponymous piece of human excrement that the viewer wants to strangle by the end of the film due to his brazen disregard for all good common sense and the effect that his pathologically criminal behavior has on his own loved ones.
Of course, Axel does not just treat his girlfriend like shit, as he has also brought great sorrow, worry, and pain to his widowed mother Naomi (Jacqueline Brookes). A practicing physician that seems to have effortlessly assimilated into WASP society, Naomi seems to not suffer from any of the mental problems and vices that plague her prodigal son. When Axel goes into serious debt and ends up owing $44,000 to some gangster after not following the advice of his guido bookie-cum-comrade ‘Hips’ (Paul Sorvino), he is ultimately forced to beg his mother to borrow the money. When Axel tells his mother how much he owes by writing the large figure in sand during an initially happy day at the beach, she completely breaks down and hysterically cries, “$44,000? Are you so naïve, you don’t know…what those monsters do with the money you give them? They shoot it right in the arms of ten-year-old schoolchildren. I see them every day at the clinic. My god, Axel. Have I been such a failure…that I’ve raised a son to have the morals of a snail?” Needless to say, Axel’s mother provides him with the money by emptying out a couple of her bank accounts because she realizes that there is a good chance that her sole son will be murdered under brutal circumstances if he does not pay up, but the antihero is such a piece of shit that he almost immediately opts to gamble the money instead of paying his debt. Indeed, aside from gambling on three basketball games for $15,000 a piece, Axel takes Billie to Las Vegas to flaunt his addiction at some sleazy casinos. While Axel wins a little bit of money at the casinos, he loses all of the money in the basketball bets. Of course, Billie is not too happy when slimy loan sharks break into his apartment in the middle of the night and Axel gets somewhat agitated when she dares to complain. After all, a bestial piece of shiksa trash has no right to complain to a wise Jewish prince.
While Axel manages to easily procure said negro pussy, he gets in a fight with the prostitute and steals his money back when she refuses to take all of her clothes off (to the pussy-peddler's credit, she does not want to risk messing up her hair by taking her weave off). When the prostitute’s pimp pulls out a knife and puts it up to his throat in an attempt to get the money back, Axel horrifies the negro by daring him to try to kill him by stating, “Why don’t you kill me, then you can have the money!,” while looking intensely into his eyes. When the pimp demonstrates that he is not the hardcore brotha' he pretends to be and fails to make good on his initial threat, Axel becomes enraged and decides to nearly beat him to death during a somewhat morbid moment where the protagonist reveals that he is not the great champion of ghetto negroes that he pretends to be. Rather revealingly, it is only when the prostitute slashes Axel’s face with a knife that the antihero stops brutalizing the pimp. In the end, Axel stumbles out of the hotel room, walks down a staircase while frightened negroes look on, and then reveals a sadistic smile upon admiring the large flesh wound on his cheek after seeing his reflection in a symbolically dirty mirror. Of course, Axel is happy that he has finally acquired the curse of Cain, though the viewer suspects that he will not be truly happy until he is actually killed. In that sense, one could argue that the only true cure for addiction is death.
Needless to say, it was only natural that a megalomaniac like Toback was far from happy when he discovered that his film was being remade by the same producers as the original film. In fact, Toback was very vocal with the press about his disgust for the film before it ever even began filming (notably, during the pre-production stage, Martin Scorsese was actually set to direct the film). To Toback’s minor credit, The Gambler (2014) directed by for-hire hack Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and starring lapsed wigger Mark Wahlberg as the eponymous lead is a hopelessly goyish affair that seems to have been made to appeal to sexually confused fratboys and philistine fans of soulless trash like HBO’s Entourage. Rather bizarrely, despite Jewish characters and themes being more prominent in Hollywood now than any other time in cinema history, the remake is almost totally de-judaized aside from John Goodman portraying a truly grotesque baldheaded Jewish loan shark. Indeed, Wahlberg’s pretty boy antihero is hardly the mean Mailerian metaphysical gambler as portrayed by the great kosher screen king Caan in the original film. Not surprisingly considering contemporary Hollywood's compulsion towards rather repulsive cinematic cuckoldry, the remake basks in an almost supernatural level of negrophilia to the point where it features an ostensibly genius gangster-philosopher portrayed by Michael K. Williams that makes the titular protagonist seem like a pathetically stupid white boy with his elegantly expressed words of ghetto wisdom. Undoubtedly, to compare Karel Reisz's The Gambler with Wyatt's remake is like comparing Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to Marcus Nispel's 2003 trying abortion or George Sluizer's Spoorloos (1988) aka The Vanishing to his own retarded American-audience-friendly 1993 Hollywood remake.
Indeed, after recently re-watching The Gambler, I could not help but be reminded of the conclusion of the text Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin: A Dialogue Between Adolf Hitler and Me by Uncle Adolf’s junky poet mentor Dietrich Eckart, which reads: “The truth," he said, "is, indeed, as you once wrote: one can only understand the Jew when one knows what his ultimate goal is. And that goal is, beyond world domination, the annihilation of the world. He must wear down all the rest of mankind, he persuades himself, in order to prepare a paradise on earth. He has made himself believe that only he is capable of this great task, and, considering his ideas of paradise, that is certainly so. But one sees, if only in the means which he employs, that he is secretly driven to something else. While he pretends to himself to be elevating mankind, he torments men to despair, to madness, to ruin. If a halt is not ordered, he will destroy all men. His nature compels him to that goal, even though he dimly realizes that he must thereby destroy himself. There is no other way for him; he must act thus. This realization of the unconditional dependence of his own existence upon that of his victims appears to me to be the main cause for his hatred. To be obliged to try and annihilate us with all his might, but at the same time to suspect that that must lead inevitably to his own ruin -- therein lies, if you will, the tragedy of Lucifer.” While many film reviewers, including Patricia Erens of The Jew In American Cinema (1984), might be tempted to describe the eponymous antihero of The Gambler as a sort of ‘Christ figure,’ I think it would be more accurate to describe him as a modern-day Lucifer who is just too much of a fuck-up to be considered a respectable member of the Synagogue of Satan.