Hard Eight

Hard Eight (film)

Hard Eight is a 1996 film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson. Robert Ridgely, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Melora Walters also appear.

The film, originally titled Sydney, was Anderson's first feature; Hall, Reilly, Ridgely, Hoffman and Walters have acted in Anderson's subsequent films.


Sydney, a gambler in his 60s, sees a young man, John (John C. Reilly), sitting outside a diner and offers to give him a cigarette and buy him a cup of coffee. When Sydney learns that John is trying to raise enough money for his mother's burial, he offers to take him to Las Vegas and teach him how to survive. Skeptical at first, John eventually agrees.

Two years later, John, having gotten the money for the funeral, has stayed in Reno and become Sydney's protégé. John is attracted to Clementine (Gwyneth Kate Paltrow), a 23-year-old casino cocktail waitress revealed to be an occasional prostitute. Shortly after John and Clementine get married, Sydney gets a frantic late-night phone call and arrives at a motel to find the newlyweds holding hostage a customer who refuses to pay for Clementine's services. Sydney handles the situation and then advises John and Clementine to leave town and head to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.

After the two leave, Sydney is confronted by Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson), a friend of John's who has worked security at various casinos in the past. Jimmy demands a large amount of money from Sydney, threatening to tell John the truth: that Sydney is the one who killed John's father. Sydney acquiesces, but later he sneaks into Jimmy's house and shoots him.


Actor/Actress Role
Philip Baker Hall Sydney
John C. Reilly John
Gwyneth Paltrow Clementine

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