Casino (1995)

Directed by Martin Scorsese
Cinematography Robert Richardson

This Martin Scorsese film depicts the Janus-like quality of Las Vegas–it has a glittering, glamorous face, as well as a brutal, cruel one. Ace Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, mobsters who move to Las Vegas to make their mark, live and work in this paradoxical world. Seen through their eyes, each as a foil to the other, the details of mob involvement in the casinos of the 1970’s and ’80’s are revealed. Ace is the smooth operator of the Tangiers casino, while Nicky is his boyhood friend and tough strongman, robbing and shaking down the locals. However, they each have a tragic flaw–Ace falls in love with a hustler, Ginger, and Nicky falls into an ever-deepening spiral of drugs and violence.

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Brilliant acting. Superb story based on events that happened in real life.

22 January 2005 | by optimism_always (London UK) – See all my reviews

Martin Scorcese’s harsh and yet delicately balanced masterpiece rises above anything petty meaning that if one wishes and has the ability and means to create a Sicilian mafia movie he should do so with grandeur and put into it as much effort as possible for people remember those who take advantage of their talent and circumstances and are diligent in their undertakings. Casino is in my opinion an epic, but it’s much more than that. This film speaks even to those who dislike the subject of organized crime. You have to be objective when judging this movie and those of us who criticize everything that stands out amongst the grey background of that which is mediocre are fools who envy others’ accomplishments and view them as insults to their own personal uselessness. Casino is one of the best movies of the 90’s. In fact, in my opinion, it’s one of the best organized crime movies of all time. Its moral is that no matter how tough you think you are there’s always someone you answer to and that you ultimately will, indeed, if you screw things up.

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Now it looks like Disney Land”

10/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
30 October 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the best films of the 90’s hands down. Without a doubt this has become one of my favorite movies. I’m not sure why really, I just love it. I think because I read the book and a lot of what happened in real life happened in my little town in Chicago. No names, and my old boss who runs our town grocery store actually knew “Ace”. Again, no names. That was always pretty cool to me, since my town really didn’t have much excitement. I guess also because I’m a huge fan of Martin, Robert, and Joe’s. When they work together, they create masterpieces.

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I’ve read a lot of comments on IMDb, and more than 50% of the comments are calling this “Goodfells Part 2”. Is it “Goodfellas Part 2”, in my opinion, no. Yes, it’s very similar situations, but it’s not the same plot. It’s a little more gory and more bright. “Casino” is mainly about the rise and fall of Las Vegas. When Robert DeNiro’s character says “It’s more like Disney Land now”. Actually that’s true, it’s not like it used to be. I’m only 20, but my mom and dad told me how different the times were in the 60’s and 70’s. Everyone was more close and wanted to know who you were and how everything was going. Everything is more corporate greed now-a-days. But back onto the movie, it does have gangsta’s in it, and with that comes some pretty gruesome violence.

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Robert DeNiro. No words can describe how wonderful of an actor he is. If you read in most of my comments, you can tell I’m a fan. This movie is actually what made me into a huge fan of his. He’s dialog and image is very powerful and you understand his position. You want to love him, even though technically he’s a bad guy too, you still think he is so cool. A lot of people I talked too: the guys wanted to be him and the girls wanted to be with him. What a performance, it deserved more praise.

Joe does it again being the A$$hole who thinks with his gun and not with his head. Joe as an actor is very remarkable. He’s only 5′ 6”, but he is so intimidating. His speech in the desert with Ace and the big confrontation.

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“You want me to get out of my own town?! Don’t *bleep* with me, Ace!” Does he swear in this movie? Oh, yeah. A lot, we’re talking 400+ f-words, guys. But you get past the vulgar language and just enjoy what Joe says and does. The head vice scene and the metal bat scene with Joe is two of the most disturbing scenes in cinematic history.

Sharon Stone, what can I say? What a remarkable performance! She was very much robbed of her deserved Oscar. I was reading in my “Rober DeNiro: A history of his films” that Sharon over shined both Joe’s and Robert’s performance.

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In some ways that is very true. She plays a gold-digging, druggie, drunk, hustling, whore. She is very glamorous in the film though, she is covered in beautiful gowns and jewelery that no guy could ever resist. Her first scene where Robert first sees her and she is stealing chips from a guy who has “hired” her for a night was extremely effective. You can see why Ace fell so hard for her. What a terrific performance in the end. When she screams at Ace “I will go to the FBI! I will go to the police! I’m not protecting you anymore!”, you get scarred and can’t help but watch more even though you are sitting on your butt for more than 2 1/2 hours. You hate her character so much, you want her to get what’s coming to her, that’s what makes a terrific performance. When you actually want to make sure that this character gets the justice he or she deserves. Sharon, I apologize, you deserved more praise as well.

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Martin Scorcesse. One of the greatest living directors of our time. This film was very wonderfully made with great visuals. The soundtrack really adds a lot, I’m telling you, and the theatrical trailer with the song “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, what a great feel. Martin has been nominated several times for an Oscar, but they snub him. I think because his films are so violent and typical. But they remain classics. I’m disappointed with the Oscars, this man deserves more.

Whew. “Casino” is an excellent movie that I highly recommend for mob movie lovers. Don’t compare this to “Goodfellas”, let it stand on it’s own. But please, this is not a movie for children in any manor. For the parents, this is a movie that should be on the wait until the later teens. It’s very violent, we’re talking a head in a vice, a beating with a metal bat(just to name a few violent scenes, there’s more)drugs, sex, and very vulgar language. This is for adults only!

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It’s a great movie that deserves very much to be on the top 250. I’d like to see it in the top 100, but we’ll see.

10/10

The most uncompromising studio picture of the 1990s.

10/10
Author: contronatura (contronatura@aol.com)
20 February 2000

A complex, multilayered, beautifully directed film, Martin Scorsese’s Casino is a masterpiece of destruction and betrayal. Few films take so many chances and succeed so wonderfully. It takes some of the basic formulas that were found in Goodfellas and applies them to another type of story – while Goodfellas’ view was ground-level, telling the story of the “blue collar” gangsters of NYC, this film tells the story of the guys who controlled those guys. And it’s fascinating to watch these people run Las Vegas, control the flow of money, and then fall from the heights of power due to lust, hubris, and greed. An amazing film that will hopefully get the recognition it deserves in the years to come.

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Development

The research for Casino began when screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi read a 1980 report from the Las Vegas Sun about a domestic argument between Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, a casino figure, and his wife Geri McGee, a former topless dancer. This gave him an idea to focus on a new book about the true story of mob infringement in Las Vegas during the 1970s, when filming of Goodfellas was coming to an end (the screenplay which he co-wrote with Scorsese). The fictional Tangiers resort reflected the story of the Stardust Resort and Casino, which had been bought by Argent Corporation in 1974 using loans from the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. Argent was owned by Allen Glick, but the casino was believed to be controlled by various organized crime families from the Midwest.

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Over the next six years, Argent Corporation siphoned off between $7 and $15 million using rigged scales. When exposed by the FBI, this skimming operation was the largest ever exposed. A number of organized crime figures were convicted as a result of the skimming.

Pileggi contacted Scorsese about taking the lead of the project, which became known as Casino. Scorsese expressed interest, calling this an “idea of success, no limits”. Pileggi was keen to release the book and then concentrate on a film adaptation, but Scorsese encouraged him to “reverse the order”.

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Scorsese and Pileggi collaborated on the script for five months, towards the end of 1994.Real-life characters were reshaped, such as Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, Geri, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother. Some characters were combined, and parts of the story were set in Las Vegas instead of Chicago. A problem emerged when they were forced to refer to Chicago as “back home” and use the words “adapted from a true story” instead of “based on a true story”. They also decided to simplify the script, so that the character of Sam “Ace” Rothstein only worked at the Tangiers Casino, in order to show a glimpse of the trials involved in operating a Mafia-run casino hotel without overwhelming the audience. According to Scorsese, the initial opening sequence was to feature the main character, Sam Rothstein, fighting with his estranged wife Ginger on the lawn of their house. The scene was too detailed, so they changed the sequence to show the explosion of Sam’s car and his flying into the air before hovering over the flames in slow motion—like a soul about to go straight down to hell.

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Filming took place at night in the Riviera casino in Las Vegas, with the nearby defunct Landmark Hotel as the entrance, to replicate the fictional Tangiers. According to the producer Barbara De Fina, there was no point in building a set if the cost were the same to use a real-life one. The opening scene, with Sam’s car exploding, was shot three times; the third take was used for the film.When first submitted to the MPAA, the film received an NC-17 rating due to its depictions of violence. Several edits were made in order to reduce the rating to R

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Typically fantastic Scorcese film

8/10
Author: FilmOtaku (ssampon@hotmail.com) from Milwaukee, WI
14 May 2003

I have to admit my bias, because I believe that Scorcese cannot do wrong – ever. Even his lesser-known or critically panned films are above the “great film” line, and Casino is certainly no exception.

Casino spans three decades and chronicles the true story of a faction of the mob who ran Las Vegas casinos. Robert DeNiro plays Ace Rothstein, a fantastic bookie who is chosen to run the Tangiers hotel and casino.

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Along the way, he marries a drug-addicted con-artist trophy wife (Sharon Stone) and struggles with his friendship with loose-cannon Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). Rothstein is a complicated figure in that he is not a heavy, yet he wields a lot of power due to the respect he has gained from his mob bosses back home.

Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci are both fantastic in their roles, and Sharon Stone actually turned out a non-irritating performance. As the viewer, you can’t stand her, but that is the point. Scorcese’s normal supporting cast are also involved in this film, including his great mother – even though she usually has incredibly minimal roles, they are always memorable.

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Scorcese seems to have several different directing styles, and Casino follows in the tradition of Goodfellas as a pseudo-documentary. A lot of the exposition is revealed by the characters themselves in the form of voice-overs, and several scenes are filmed in documentarian fashion. The entire production however, is sleek and very quick. The use of music bears mentioning as well: Most Martin Scorcese films have an amazing soundtrack that adds to and enhances the scene. Being a child of the MTV age, I’m a sucker for good uses of music in films and Scorcese is a master. Scorcese doesn’t just utilize the soundtrack, he makes it part of the storytelling – by the music, we chronologically know what time period we are witnessing, since one cannot rely on other factors, such as fashion alone.

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One of my favorite scenes in film which effectively involves music is actually from Casino – the very intense scene when the relationship between DeNiro, Stone and Pesci come to a head in the climax of the film. The pounding music cut throughout this scene is a cover of “Satisfaction” by Devo and the result is absolutely brilliant.

Being a complete film geek, I generally don’t go to films that feature certain stars, I go to films by certain directors and Scorcese is one of them. While this was probably the tenth time I’d seen this film there were more things I noticed, and I’m sure I’ll notice more upon my eleventh viewing. The man is a complete genius, and a gift to film – my suggestion is to watch some of his films, then check out his unbelievable series, “A Personal Journey with Martin Scorcese Through American Movies” which was done the same year as Casino. The series is essentially a primer on the history of film, sectioned off by film genres.

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You not only will experience his amazing intellect and massive knowledge of film history, but his incredible humility as well.

–Shelly

A Can’t-Miss Story No Matter How Told

10/10
Author: ray-280 from Philadelphia
16 August 2005

As a lifelong gambler who has crossed paths with a few fringe types portrayed in the film, I’m well aware of the story, the culture, and the ambiance of the Tangiers, the fictional casino placed in the control of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert Deniro). Rothstein is not a mob member, but a “moneymaker” for them because he’s the nation’s best sports handicapper. It was refreshing for a movie to finally show that not all gamblers are stupid, but instead one of those who takes advantage of the many who are.

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Rothstein’s partner in crime is Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), who is far less convincing as a mobster than he would seem to like to believe. Sharon Stone plays the psychotic Ginger, a once-in-a-lifetime role in that it was the only time in my life I could bear to watch her on film. The supporting cast is strong, led by James Woods and Don Rickles (excellent in his dramatic capacity), and the movie is generally well-acted.

If you are a gambler or know the “wiseguy” culture, the movie doesn’t have to be explained, while if you aren’t, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon the secret meeting place of the mafia and made privy to what is said, without anyone knowing you were there. This film is based on the true story of what happened when the mob tried to put its men in suits and have them heading a casino, and why it has never been tried since. The homage paid to the incestuous nature of Nevada politics was an excellent touch.

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Most of us wouldn’t like a guy like Sam Rothstein, nor would we like to be him, but if we go to Vegas for a weekend and stay at a casino/hotel, we’ll have a better experience if his watchful eye is ensuring that our stay is a pleasant one. The film’s nod to how Vegas has been sanitized since those days is also accurate, and reflects sadness at a lost era, where the baby (the “old school” types who made Vegas great) was thrown out with the bathwater (the organized crime influences).

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Robert De Niro, an icon of the contemporary Hollywood crime film…

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
22 May 2007

Based on a true story, Martin Scorsese “Casino” is a motion picture about two characters and their chance to rule the desert paradise of Las Vegas… We are introduced in with all the lights, the noise, the flashing and the colors of the town that doesn’t sleep day or night…

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De Niro’s character, Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, is based on Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who was a hell of a handicapper… He was so good that whenever he bets, he could change the odds for every bookmaker in the country… Genius at what he was doing with numbers, he proved to a lot of guys in the Chicago Mob that he was a tremendous earner that he could make a lot of money for them… As a result, he was able to accomplish whatever bookmaking, handicapping, he wanted to do, with the umbrella of protection from those guys… ‘Ace’ runs the casino with an iron fist refusing any outside people cheating at his tables…

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But he had a fatal flaw… ‘Ace’ always felt that he could logically and intelligently deal with things, even to deal with emotions… So he decides on making a life with a woman who, he knows, does not necessarily love him… Anyway with such a sexy wife and money to burn, ‘Ace’ was the epitome of opulence, confidence and power…

Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) was fascinating… Great woman, truly beautiful, one of the best-known hustlers in town… For her, a guy like ‘Ace’ was the ultimate score… So the way to Ginger’s heart was clearly money… ‘Ace’ knew that but he didn’t care…What he wanted was to marry her…

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Sharon Stone really stood up to the challenge in her role as a casino hustler who is so wild… She was young, fresh, confident, looking absolutely fantastic as the independent woman whom everybody desires…

Joe Pesci succeeds in his scary tough role as the strong man who has nerve, and isn’t afraid of the cops… He was reportedly a mob hit man reputed to be a sadistic killer… (In one scene, his character is shown torturing someone by putting his head in a vise.)

To protect his friend and adviser, Nicky (Pesci) would beat to a pulp any street guys who messed with ‘Ace’ or didn’t give him the proper respect… Over the course of their friendship Nicky delivered a number of these messages always making sure that ‘Ace’ didn’t get his hands dirty… ‘Ace’ witnessed several beatings on his behalf… Nicky’s mission was to show his worth to the family as an enforcer…

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The clothes on De Niro looked very straight, more dangerous and very threatening… They were very important cues to his character, and again, to the progression of the story… ‘Ace’ was an extremely fastidious guy… And, of course, as you follow the story he starts out in more conservative colors and as things become more chaotic, the colors become more chaotic…

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