California Split

Watch California Split

"…Being the story of two bet-on-anything guys who happily discover something called a "winning streak.""
  • R
  • 1974
  • 1 hr 48 min
  • 7.1  (8,204)
  • 85

California Split is a 1974 film directed by Robert Altman and starring George Segal, Elliott Gould, and Ann Prentiss. The movie tells the story of two friends, Bill Denny (Segal) and Charlie Waters (Gould), who meet each other at a poker game and become fast friends. However, their friendship is complicated by their love for gambling as they get into deeper and deeper trouble chasing their dreams of winning big.

Bill Denny is an introverted and somewhat serious writer for a magazine, but he has a problem with gambling. He is drawn to the thrill of winning and excited to make money from his gambling, but he also constantly loses and regularly has to borrow money from his girlfriend, Barbara (Prentiss), who is supportive but concerned about the impact his gambling is having on their relationship. Despite his troubles, Bill is fascinated by Charlie's carefree attitude and approach to gambling. Charlie is a charismatic, flamboyant gambler who spends most of his time playing poker and chasing after women. However, despite their differences, they build a powerful bond based on their love of gambling.

Their friendship eventually leads them to a trip to Reno, Nevada, where they hope to win enough money to make their gambling dreams come true. But things don't go as planned, and they end up losing all of their money. Desperate and out of options, they hatch a plan to pull off a heist at the poker game they are playing in. But, things do not go smoothly, and they find themselves in trouble with a dangerous loan shark named Helen Brown.

The film's plot is somewhat meandering, following the two men as they indulge in their love of gambling and their somewhat self-destructive behavior. The movie presents gambling as not only a source of excitement and entertainment but also as a dangerous addiction that can ruin lives. Despite this, director Robert Altman does not judge the characters or present them as caricatures. He shows us their flaws and their struggles, but he also presents them with compassion and depth.

The movie is also notable for its groundbreaking use of improvisation. Altman allowed his actors to improvise many of their scenes, giving the movie a naturalistic, almost documentary-like feel. The result is a film that feels authentic and real, with characters that feel like fully-realized human beings.

Another standout element of the movie is the performances of its lead actors. George Segal gives a deeply emotional performance as Bill, a man whose life is slowly falling apart due to his addiction. Elliott Gould, in turn, is charming and enigmatic as Charlie, a man who seems to be constantly living life on the edge.

The film is also notable for its use of music. Altman's use of popular music, including songs by Van Morrison and Ray Charles, gives the movie a lively, energetic feel while also grounding it in a specific time and place.

Overall, California Split is a must-watch for fans of unpredictable, character-driven films. Its exploration of addiction and its impact on relationships and lives is as relevant today as it was when the film was released over forty years ago. The movie is a unique and engaging portrait of two men struggling to find their way in a world that seems to be working against them.

California Split is a 1974 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 85.

California Split
Where to Watch California Split
California Split is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent California Split for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 48 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (8,204)
  • Metascore