Colin Gardner
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Reisz in Hollywood
Deconstructing existentialism and the counterculture in The Gambler (1974) and Dog Soldiers/ Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978)
in Karel Reisz
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Like its literary inspiration, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's autobiographical 1866 novella The Gambler, Karel Reisz's uncompromising character study takes us to the heart of gambling addiction, the illegal, mob-run gambling dens of 1970s Manhattan. The novel's Aleksey Ivanovich is now Axel Freed, who lectures on Dostoyevsky's nascent existentialism and will-to-power as a philosophical explanation for his own obsession with risk and chance. Dog Soldiers, Reisz's ambitious follow-up to James Toback's more intimate character study, expands The Gambler's mutual corruption between 'internal' and 'external' milieux to the broader historical and psychological trauma of the Vietnam War and its counter-cultural corollary, the CIA-controlled South-East Asian heroin trade. After his return from Saigon, Robert Stone, the novel's author, became a writer-in-residence at Princeton University, where he began work on the manuscript that would eventually become Dog Soldiers and, retitled Who'll Stop the Rain for the American market, the basis for Reisz's second Hollywood release.

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