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Casino

Theatrical movie poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Barbara De Fina
Written by Screenplay:
Nicholas Pileggi
Martin Scorsese
Book:
Nicholas Pileggi
Narrated by Robert De Niro
Joe Pesci
Frank Vincent
Starring Robert De Niro
Joe Pesci
Sharon Stone
Frank Vincent
Don Rickles
Pasquale Cajano
James Woods
Alan King
Kevin Pollak
Cinematography Robert Richardson
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) November 22, 1995
Running time 178 min.
Country United States
Language English French
Budget $52,000,000[citation needed]
Gross revenue $116,112,375

Casino is a 1995 crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Scorsese.

Robert De Niro stars as Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a Jewish-American top gambling handicapper who is called by the Mob to oversee the day-to-day operations at the fictional Tangiers casino in Las Vegas. The story is based on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont and the Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago Outfit from the 1970s until the early 1980s.

Joe Pesci plays Nicky Santoro, based on the real-life mob enforcer Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. Nicky is sent to Vegas to make sure that money from the Tangiers is skimmed off the top and that the mobsters in Vegas are kept in line. Sharon Stone plays Ace's wife, the self-obsessed and devious Ginger, a role that earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

When released, Casino had the most uses of the word "fuck" (422) in a feature length film. Casino has been considered a companion piece to Scorsese's earlier film, Goodfellas (1990), which also starred De Niro and Pesci, and was written by Pileggi and Scorsese.

Contents

Plot

In 1983, Sam "Ace" Rothstein exits a restaurant and gets into his car, which explodes when he turns it on. Sam then narrates the story, and flashes back to the beginning.

Going back ten years (1973), Sam, then a sports handicapper for the mob, is entrusted by Chicago Outfit bosses to run the Tangiers Casino, which is under their control through corrupt representatives of the Teamsters. Sam is at first reluctant to manage the Tangiers due his criminal record, but is able to do so through lax gaming laws which simply require an application for a casino license to made by employees; and license hearings are held up by a large backlog. Sam's expertise enables him to quickly double the casino's profits, which are skimmed by the mafia before the records are reported to income tax agencies. Impressed with Sam's work, the bosses send Sam's friend, enforcer Nicholas "Nicky" Santoro, to protect Sam and the whole business. Nicky, however, begins to become more of a nuisance than a helper, as his brash attitude quickly gets him banned from every casino, and his name is placed in the black book. Nicky then gathers his own crew and begins his own businesses, such as a restaurant and a jewelery store, but also engages in burglary, which is not sanctioned by the bosses.

Sam, meanwhile, meets and falls in love with a hustler, Ginger McKenna. Despite Ginger's reluctance, they soon marry. But their relationship slowly begins to fall apart when Ginger is caught by Sam and Nicky aiding her former boyfriend, a con man named Lester Diamond. Sam also makes an enemy in County Commissioner Pat Webb by firing his brother-in-law from the casino. Webb retaliates by pulling Sam's casino licence application from the backlog, forcing Sam to have a license hearing, but secretly arranges for the board to reject the license. Sam responds by appearing on television and openly accuses the city government of corruption. The bosses, unappreciative of Sam's publicity stunts, ask him to return home, but he stubbornly blames Nicky's reckless lawbreaking for his mess. Nicky chastises Sam to never "go over his head" in a heated argument.

The bosses soon notice that the suitcases of money that they have been stealing have decreasing amounts of money, meaning that the money counters have begun skimming some for themselves. They put Artie Piscano in charge of overseeing the skims, but he complains about the expensive costs. Despite the bosses warning Piscano not to keep financial records, he secretly starts writing down how much he spends in a ledger. Piscano's rants about the extra work and the costs are overheard by the FBI, who bugged his grocery store. Sam finally reaches the end of his patience with Ginger after she and Lester are in Los Angeles with plans to run away to Europe with his daughter Amy in tow. Sam talks Ginger into bringing Amy back, but her addictions anger Sam so much that he kicks her out of the house. She returns, on the condition that she carry a beeper on her for Sam to contact her whenever he must. Ginger turns to Nicky for help in getting her share of her and Sam's money from the bank, and they begin a sexual affair, which according to mob rules, could get the three of them killed (as well as Nicky's crew for covering it up). Sam reaches his limit with Ginger when she ties Amy to her bedposts to have a night with Nicky. Sam confronts Ginger in the restaurant and disowns her. She turns to Nicky, but he has lost patience with her as well. The next morning, Ginger goes to Sam's house and creates a domestic distrubance, stealing the key to their deposit box in the bank. Ginger takes some of Sam's savings, but she is then arrested by FBI agents for aiding the mob.

With Ginger's arrest and the FBI's discovery of Piscano's records, which are then matched with the skimming operation, the casino empire crumbles and the bosses are arrested. During a court hearing, they decide who to eliminate in order to keep from testifying. The slain include Andy Stone, the head of the Teamsters because he is not Italian-American; John Nance, the money courier whose son was arrested and so whom the bosses wanted to silence; and three casino executives to keep silent. Ginger, who runs away from Sam, eventually sinks deeper into drug addiction and is also silenced by the mob, who gave her an intentional drug overdose.

Nicky and his brother, Dominick, arrange a meeting with their crew in a cornfield, but are suddenly turned on and viciously beaten by their own crew with aluminum baseball bats. Nicky sobs while Dominick is brutally beaten, then he is next. The brothers are stripped of their clothes and buried in a freshly-dug grave while still breathing. Sam narrates that the bosses ordered Nicky's death on account of being fed up with his hotheadedness and disregard for order.

Returning to the opening scene of the film, Sam survives the car bomb, but knows that the bosses were not responsible for it. With the mafia now out of power, the casinos are purchased by several big corporations. In the final scene similar to the ending of Goodfellas, an aged Sam now lives a simpler lifestyle in San Diego working as a sports handicapper.

Cast

Actor Role Based on
Robert De Niro Sam "Ace" Rothstein Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal
Joe Pesci Nicholas "Nicky" Santoro Tony "The Ant" Spilotro
Sharon Stone Ginger McKenna Rothstein Geraldine McGee Rosenthal
Frank Vincent Frankie Marino Frank Cullotta
Don Rickles Billy Sherbert Murray Ehrenberg
Pasquale Cajano Remo Gaggi Joseph Aiuppa
James Woods Lester Diamond Leonard "Lenny" Marmor
John Bloom Donald "Don" Ward Slot Machine Manager
L. Q. Jones Pat Webb A Clark County Commissioner
Kevin Pollak Philip Green Allen Glick
Alan King Andy Stone Allen Dorfman
Bill Allison John Nance George Vandermark
Philip Suriano Dominick Santoro Michael Spilotro
Carl Ciarfalio Tony Dogs Billy McCarthy
Vinny Vella Artie Piscano Carl "Tuffy" DeLuna
Nobu Matsuhisa K. K. Ichikawa Akio Kashiwagi
Ffiolliott Le Coque Anna Scott Tamara Rand
Bret McCormick Bernie Blue Herbert "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein
Richard Riehle Charlie "Clean Face" Clark Morris Shenker
Dick Smothers Nevada State Senator Harrison Roberts US Senator Harry Reid[1] (D-NV)
Oscar Goodman Himself Himself
Frank Cullotta Curly Hitman
Steve Vignari Beeper Frank Schweihs

Development

The research for Casino began when Pileggi read a report from the Las Vegas Sun in 1980 about a domestic argument between Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a casino figure and his wife, Geri McGee, a former topless dancer.[2] 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 (the screenplay which he co-wrote with Scorsese) was coming to an end.[3] Pileggi decided to contact Scorsese about taking the helm of the project which would become known as Casino.[2] Scorsese expressed interest in the project calling this an "idea of success, no limits".[4] Although Pileggi was keen to release the book and then concentrate on a film adaption, Scorsese encouraged him to "reverse the order".[5]

Screenplay

Scorsese and Pileggi collaborated on the script lasting for a total of five months, towards the end of 1994.[3] Real-life characters such as Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, Geri, Anthony Spilotro and his brother were reshaped. Some characters were combined as well as parts of the story being set in Las Vegas instead of Chicago. A problem emerged when they were forced to refer Chicago as "back home" and use the words "adapted from a true story" instead of "based on a true story".[4] They also decided to simplify the script, so that the character of Sam "Ace" Rothstein only worked at the Tangiers Casino to show a glimpse of the trials involved in operating a mafia run casino hotel without overwhelming the audience.[4] According to Scorsese, the initial opening sequence was to feature the main character, Sam Rothstein, fighting with his estranged wife, Ginger, on the lawn on their house. Since the scene was too detailed, they changed the sequence to show the explosion of Sam's car and see him fly into the air before hovering over the flames in slow motion—like a soul about to go straight down in hell.[4]

Principal photography

Filming took place in The Riviera Casino in Las Vegas to replicate the fictional Tangiers, during the night - which was once as late as 4:00 in the morning. According to the producer Barbara De Fina, there was no point building a set if the same cost was to use a real-life one.[4] The opening scene - Sam's car explosion - was shot three times with the latter one being used for the film from the real life account of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal of the way he managed to escape.[4] The precise details of the explosion were seen to suggest that you never forget these moments if you know how close you can come to being killed.[4] According to Martin Scorsese, "we (with Nicholas Pileggi) wanted to show the end of the old way".[4]

Reception

While the film was heavily criticized for its excessive violence, it garnered a mostly positive critical response. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 83% "fresh" rating.[6] On Metacritic, the rating is 73 (generally favorable reviews) out of 100 based on 17 reviews.[citation needed]

Awards

Sharon Stone was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role as well as a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama. Martin Scorsese was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Director - Motion Picture.

Soundtrack

Casino: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack by Various Artists
Released November 20, 1995
Genre Soundtrack
Label MCA

Track listing

Disc one

  1. "Contempt - Theme De Camille" - Georges Delerue
  2. "Angelina/Zooma, Zooma Medley" - Louis Prima
  3. "Hoochie Coochie Man" - Muddy Waters
  4. "I'll Take You There" - The Staple Singers
  5. "Nights in White Satin" - The Moody Blues
  6. "How High The Moon" - Les Paul & Mary Ford
  7. "Hurt" - Timi Yuro
  8. "Ain't Got No Home" - Clarence 'Frogman' Henry
  9. "Without You" - Nilsson
  10. "Love Is the Drug" - Roxy Music
  11. "I'm Sorry" - Brenda Lee
  12. "Go Your Own Way" - Fleetwood Mac
  13. "The Thrill Is Gone" - B.B. King
  14. "Love Is Strange" - Mickey & Sylvia
  15. "The 'In' Crowd" - Ramsey Lewis
  16. "Stardust" - Hoagy Carmichael

Disc two

  1. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Jimmy Smith
  2. "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)" - Otis Redding
  3. "I Ain't Superstitious" - Jeff Beck Group
  4. "The Glory of Love" - The Velvetones
  5. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - Devo
  6. "What a Diff'rence a Day Made" - Dinah Washington
  7. "Working in the Coal Mine" - Lee Dorsey
  8. "House of the Rising Sun" - The Animals
  9. "Those Were the Days" - Cream
  10. "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" - Tony Bennett
  11. "Slippin' and Slidin'" - Little Richard
  12. "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" - Dean Martin
  13. "Compared to What" - Les McCann & Eddie Harris
  14. "Basin Street Blues/When It's Sleepy Time Down South" - Louis Prima
  15. "St. Matthew Passion (Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder)" - Johann Sebastian Bach (Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

Additional songs in the film

References

Notes
  1. ^ Harry Reid is not boring. - By Chris Suellentrop - Slate Magazine
  2. ^ a b Baxter, John DeNiro: A Biography p.336.
  3. ^ a b Thompson, David and Christie, Ian Scorsese on Scorsese p.198.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Thompson, David and Christie, Ian Scorsese on Scorsese pp.200-204.
  5. ^ Baxter, John DeNiro: A Biography p.337.
  6. ^ Casino Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes.
Bibliography
  • Thompson, David; Chrstie, Ian (1996). Scorsese on Scorsese. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571220021. 
  • Evans, David (2006). DeNiro: A Biography. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Casino is a Academy Award Nominated 1995 crime drama film. Sam "Ace" Rothstein is called by the mob to oversee the day to day operation at the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Nicky Santoro, an enforcer, is sent by the mob to make sure the money is skimmed off top and other mobsters and casino are kept in line.

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Nicholas Pileggi.
No One Stays At The Top Forever (taglines)

Sam "Ace" Rothstein

  • When you love someone, you've gotta trust them. There's no other way. You've got to give them the key to everything that's yours. Otherwise, what's the point?
  • [About Nicky]: No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is dead.
  • In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing, and keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose. In the end, we get it all.

Nicky Santoro

  • I think in all fairness I should explain to you exactly what it is that I do. For instance, tomorrow morning I'll get up nice and early take a walk down over to the bank and walk in and see you and um, if you don't have my money for me, I'll crack your fuckin' head wide open in front of everybody at the bank. And just about the time that I'm coming out of jail, hopefully you'll be coming out of your coma and guess what? I'll split your fuckin' head open again 'cuz i'm fuckin' stupid, I don't give a fuck about jail. That's my business. That's what I do.
  • You put my money to sleep, [and] I'll put your fuckin' brain to sleep!
  • Listen to me, Anthony. I got your head in a fuckin' vise. I'll squash your fuckin' head like a grapefruit, if you don't give me a name.
  • You know I'm tryin' to put somethin' really big together out here. You know what I'm talkin' about, huh? You know! If you're actin' like this now, how can I depend on you?
  • You know, I don't wanna bring this up but you've been treating a lot of people with a lot of disrespect, even your own wife.
  • [Talking to Sam at the Nevada desert] You said I'm bringin' heat on you?! I gotta listen to people because of your fuckin' shit?! You're ordering me out?? You'd better get your own fuckin' army, pal! You're fuckin' warned don't ever go over my fuckin' head again, you motherfucker you!
  • Peek-a-boo, you fucks you!
  • You shit-kicking, stinky horse-manure smelling motherfucker you!
  • I used to send Marino back home with a piece of what I made. Not a big piece, but what did they know? They were 1500 miles away, and I don't know anyone who can see that far.
  • Now, on top of everything else, I gotta make sure no one fucks around with the Golden Jew.
  • [To Sam]You Motherfucker you!!
  • If you had any guts, you'd be stealing for a living. (To a blackjack dealer)

External links

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