With the early summer release of “The Hangover Part III,” the final installment of the big-screen bro-tastic adventure series, Caesars Palace may have become even more popular than it already was – if that’s possible! Fans of the road-trip caper flick are inspired to stay in the resort’s lavish suites as well as pop onto the premises just to take a peek at the surroundings.
Indeed, set spotting has become a favorite pastime for Las Vegas visitors, and Caesars Entertainment Corporation has a sizable catalog of movies under its belt. Looking at its eight local properties, here’s a quick overview of the films that will forever remain in the city’s collective consciousness.
Over the years, this iconic Roman-themed resort has appeared in more than 15 different Hollywood movies.
Most people think of 1988’s “Rain Man,” starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, as the first time Caesars Palace was showcased on the silver screen. To this day, the Emperors Suite in the Forum Tower is still fondly known as “the ‘Rain Man’ Suite.” It can be reserved by anyone who wants to check out the view and experience the extravagant accommodations where hustler Charlie Babbitt and his autistic brother Raymond spent the night after winning about $86,000 at the casino’s blackjack tables.
However, the opulent property actually hit the big screen nearly 20 years earlier with “The Only Game in Town” in 1970. Starring film legends Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty, it told the story of a chorus girl who fell for a compulsive gambler.
Two more major movies followed later in the ’70s – “The Gambler” with James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton in 1974 and “Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in 1979. In his role as a rodeo champion battling the bottle, Redford rode a horse through the casino and out onto the Strip.
The ’80s were also a good decade in film for Caesars Palace. In addition to “Rain Man,” Mel Brooks brought his zaniness to the resort for 1981’s “History of the World – Part I.” Plus, the incomparable George Burns played the roles of God and Satan in 1984’s “Oh, God! You Devil.” A climatic poker game occurred in the casino between the supernatural adversaries for a struggling musician’s soul.
Two other motion pictures brought fame to the resort in the late ’90s. In the 1997 romantic comedy “Fools Rush In,” Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) came to Las Vegas to build a nightclub. He had a one-night stand with Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek), who worked as a photographer at Caesars Palace. Discovering she was pregnant three months later, he did the “right” thing and married her in a chapel with an Elvis impersonator as a witness.
Billy Crystal took top billing in the endearing comedy “My Giant” in 1998. His character Sammy Kamin was a Hollywood talent agent who encountered an eight-foot-tall man in Romania. Sammy paraded this gentle giant through Las Vegas, among other cities, while trying to launch a movie career for him.
In 2003, Caesars Palace’s Emperors Suite was featured in another flick: “Intolerable Cruelty.” A romantic black comedy about divorce, it starred George Clooney as formidable lawyer Miles Massey and Catherine Zeta-Jones as gold digger Marylin Rexroth. Naturally, the two hard-hearted manipulators fell for each other. After reconnecting at a Las Vegas convention of divorce attorneys, they married on a whim…but endured a rough ride before finding their “happily ever after.”
Other venues at Caesars Palace made their way to the big screen in this decade as well. Jennifer Hudson sang the emotional love song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in the resort’s showroom in 2006’s “Dreamgirls,” starring Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx. And Robert Downey Jr., as billionaire Jonathan Stark, seduced a beautiful reporter in front of Caesars Palace’s main entrance in the 2008 blockbuster “Iron Man.”
Of course, the first “Hangover” film, released in 2009, had a scene in front of the resort as well as key scenes at the registration desk and by the Garden of the Gods pool oasis. Although Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha never stayed in the famous Emperors Suite, it was used as a model for constructing the look-alike set that is shown on screen.
Caesars Palace broadened its international reach when it appeared in the 2011 Bollywood movie “Stand by Me” and with the European release of 2012 film “Lay the Favorite,” which was more well received overseas than in the U.S.
Around Christmas time in 2012, Paramount Pictures premiered “The Guilt Trip” with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. They played Andrew and Joyce Brewster, a son and his mother on a cross-country road trip. One of the stops was in Sin City at Caesars Palace, where Joyce hit the slots and enjoyed free drinks until the wee hours.
Early this year in March, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” came out. It starred Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey as magicians. Among several scenes shot at Caesars Palace is one that followed Carrell as Burt Wonderstone and Olivia Wilde as his assistant Jane while strolling along the resort’s Bella Luce Terrace past the iconic front fountains. Footage was also shot at other Caesars Entertainment properties – including the “Hot Box” stunt, which suspended Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton (played by Buscemi) in a clear box high above Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas.
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino
Several films were also made at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Perhaps the most famous of the bunch is 2007’s “Knocked Up.” A Judd Apatow movie, it follows in the aftermath of a drunken one-night stand when slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) gets an ambitious TV reporter (Katherine Heigl) pregnant. Before deciding to take responsibility for his actions, Ben went on a rollicking road trip to Las Vegas and stayed in a luxury suite at the resort while high on ’shrooms.
The 2008 heist drama “21,” based on the popular book “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich, starred Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne and Kate Bosworth. It told the story of a group of MIT students who counted cards on secret weekend trips to Vegas. They often got comped in one of the posh suites at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Two other recent films with scenes at the resort include 2009’s science fiction/thriller “Race to Witch Mountain” and 2010’s “Get Him to the Greek” with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill.
There have been at least four memorable films showcasing scenes at Bally’s.
The resort was the site of Apollo Creed’s exhibition bout against Ivan Drago in 1985’s “Rocky IV.” It was held in the theater that houses the beloved showgirl extravaganza “Jubilee!”
Bally’s was the hotel Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker checked into in 1992’s “Honeymoon in Vegas.” And it was featured in 1995’s Oscar-winning film “Leaving Las Vegas,” which also stars Cage along with Elisabeth Shue – as an alcoholic and a prostitute, respectively. After spending a night together, the couple ran into each other on the Strip in front of Bally’s colorful-changing moving walkway, where Cage awkwardly invited her on a dinner date.
As one of the city’s few remaining historic hotels, it’s no surprise that the Flamingo has appeared in several classic films. Rat Pack fanatics will remember it from the original 1960 version of “Ocean’s 11.” Frank Sinatra had the role of Danny Ocean, and Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford were his cohorts.
The 1964 musical movie “Viva Las Vegas” starred Elvis Presley as Grand Prix driver Lucky Jackson. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, his character instantly fell in love with Rusty Martin, played by Ann-Margret. She worked as a swimming instructor at the Flamingo’s sprawling pool. Several scenes were shot amid its sparkling waters, including one where Rusty pushed a womanizing Lucky off the diving board.
Mobster Benjamin Siegel’s involvement in the property in the ’40s guaranteed it would be featured in 1991’s “Bugsy,” directed by Barry Levinson. Warren Beatty had the title part with Annette Bening acting as his love interest, Virginia Hill.
Other CET properties
Hollywood has visited some other Caesars Entertainment properties over the years. Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas was seen in 2007’s “Lucky You.” Interestingly, that movie was based on 1970’s “The Only Game in Town” (mentioned above), which was shot at Caesars Palace. Eric Bana starred as a savvy poker player who fell for Drew Barrymore, an aspiring young singer. He taught her about the game at this longstanding gambling hall, then home to the World Series of Poker.
The Quad, which was formerly known as the Imperial Palace, was where the character Alotta Fagina, a sexy young spy, had a penthouse suite. Austin Powers shagged her in a hot tub there in 1997’s “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”
Finally, although the 2009 disaster film “2012” with John Cusack wasn’t shot in Las Vegas, several hotels along the Strip were destroyed by volcanic ash and earthquakes – most notably Paris Las Vegas and its half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.