There's something about Las Vegas that filmmakers and -goers can't get enough of. Granted, Sin City has sun and sex appeal, but so does Miami and New Orleans. So why is it that -- after New York and Los Angeles -- no other U.S. city seems to get as much screen time?
"You go to gamble, or for a bachelor party, hoping something important might happen to change your life," says Jon Turteltaub, director of "Last Vegas," a new comedy opening Friday. "That makes it a dramatic place."
"Last" stars Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as old pals from Flatbush who gather in Vegas for one last hurrah -- a bachelor party for Billy (Douglas). Fueled by martinis and Metamucil, they explore the "new Vegas" (cut to Cirque du Soleil and the new Aria resort) and learn the city can be transformative, even for post-retirement Rat Packs.
"Vegas is a lot like New York," says Turteltaub. "It's open all night. And anything you need you can get."
And with all that neon, it just looks great on film. For proof, check out four of the greatest Vegas films of all time.
OCEAN'S ELEVEN (1960) A Rat Pack classic starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford as former paratroopers reunited to pull off the mother of all heists -- five casinos in one night. Yes, it drags -- it's one of the few films in which the remake (starring George Clooney) is way better -- but shots of vintage Vegas (the Sahara, Sand's, Flamingo) are priceless.
CASINO (1995) Martin Scorsese's violent epic stars DeNiro and Joe Pesci as mobsters and Sharon Stone (earning an Oscar nod) as a prostitute, all searching for money, power and the ultimate high in '70s-era Vegas. Shots of casinos being torn down are killer.
LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995) Mike Figgis' booze-soaked romance between alcoholic Nicolas Cage (who won an Oscar) and prostitute Elisabeth Shue (who was nominated). It's grim: a Vegas rarely seen on film. No wonder casinos don't want us to look outside.
THE HANGOVER (2009) In a post-bachelor-party haze, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis stumble across a missing baby, a stolen police cruiser and a tiger in their bathroom ... but where's the missing groom (Justin Bartha)? Todd Phillips filmed much of this comedy at Caesars Palace.