* Prices may differ from that shown
"Casino" is a 1995 drama film which was directed by Martin Scorsese, who has also directed such films as "The Departed" (2006), "Goodfellas" (1990), and "Cape Fear" (1991).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 178 minutes in length and stars Robert De Niro ("Taxi Driver", "Heat", "The Godfather: Part II") as Sam Rothstein, Sharon Stone ("Basic Instinct", "Total Recall", "The Quick and the Dead") as Ginger McKenna, and Joe Pesci ("Raging Bull", "Home Alone", "Gone Fishin'") as Nicky Santoro.
The plot for the film reads as follows: Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two mobster best friends and a trophy wife over a gambling empire.
Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal was a mobster who was born in Chicago in 1929, and this film details his exploits as he ran the Stardust casino. However, names have been changed and Robert De Niro plays the part of Sam "Ace" Rothstein who runs the Tangiers. His childhood friend, Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro is renamed as Nicky Santoro and is depicted by Joe Pesci, while Rothstein's wife, Ginger, played by Sharon Stone, is based off of Rosenthal's real-life wife, Geraldine McGee. Trust me, it's not so confusing once you start watching!
The film is based off of Nicholas Pileggi's novel of the same name and is the second time he has had a book turned into a big screen film by Martin Scorsese - the first being "Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family" which became "Goodfellas". So what happens when you take Scorsese's direction and add a dose of De Niro, a dash of Pesci and a hint of Stone? You might just get one of the greatest films of all time, and one which won Sharon Stone a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
There is a lot of voice over commentary by the characters, but it is necessary to understand what extremes these people went to in order to get what they wanted, and I also think it adds an air of quality to the film. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film begins with Sam Rothstein walking out of a door in a vivid salmon pink suit in 1983 and his voice over utters the words "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? And, for a while... I believed that's the kind of love I had." He opens the door of his car, gets in, turns the ignition, and then the car explodes. Bach's "St Matthew Passion" plays in the background as the title credits roll.
The film's first violent scene comes in a bar when Ace asks a guy standing at the bar if a pen was his. The patron tells Ace to "shove that pen up your ass", which doesn't sit well with Nicky, who then grabs the pen and proceeds to stab the guy with it, badly hurting him in the process. The guy starts crying and whimpering when he's on the ground. I do like Ace's voice over closing the scene which says "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."
There are some poignant scenes in the film and some light-hearted scenes. One such scene of comedic proportions was where Nicky and his wife are traveling through airport customs with hidden diamonds. Nicky's wife plays the bumbling woman so that they don't look through her hair, where the jewels are. They turn to Nicky and he says "Don't look at me pal, I gotta live with her." In stark contrast, I do love the scene which details a card player and a spotter. They're quickly figured out by Ace and his staff, to which they cattle prod one of them and begin to bust the player's hand with a hammer so that he can't shuffle his chips any more.
One of the most powerful scenes comes when Ace and Ginger are sat having a conversation and he's asking her to marry him. She tells him that she doesn't love him but he says that as long as there is a mutual respect, all that can come later. It is that one on one basis which makes you think that love really is blind because she clearly still wants to be with Lester. It is a strange scene, because for a guy of Ace's stature and money know-how, you would think he'd be smart enough to steer well clear of a woman who was trouble from day one. Another brutal scene comes when Nicky and his mob beat an Irish gangster to a pulp, sticking ice picks in his nether regions and even going as far as putting his head in a vice causing his eye to pop out in order to make him talk. Back to the lighter side of things, Ace is having a conversation over coffee with Phillip Green, and notices that Green's muffin has more blueberries than his. He then goes to the kitchen and tells the baker that from now on he wants an equal amount of blueberries in each muffin, much to the displeasure of the baker.
In another scene Ginger wants $25,000 but won't tell Sam what it's for. She eventually takes it from a safety deposit box Sam had set up for his kidnapping, should it happen. Nicky follows her to a diner and informs Sam where they are. What follows is an exchange in which Sam teaches both Lester and Ginger a lesson - never cross him, because if you do then you're going to find out the hard way why you shouldn't have. Another scene with a hint of humour about it was when Nicky is playing golf and the FBI is watching him. Only they're watching from a plane which runs out of fuel and has to land on the golf course. The Feds make a hasty exit and Nicky says "$100 to whoever hits the plane."
The film takes a turn near the halfway mark as it is revealed the FBI is listening in on conversations Piscano is having, inadvertently naming mob bosses and Las Vegas in the same sentences. At the same time, Ace has his gaming licence denied by the senator and his commissioners without even hearing what he has to say, so he then becomes entertainment director of the Tangiers which is essentially still the boss without actually coming out and saying it.
There is some great cinematography with Ace and Nicky's meeting in the desert. When Nicky drives off he spins around 180 degrees and leaves a semi circle of dust, which slowly crawls towards Ace who is stood there motionless. It's a strong scene which gives you just enough time to wonder whether Nicky is going to go ahead and put Ace in a hole sometime in the near future. The Mafia Code says that you should not interfere with each other's interest, but it is clear that Nicky had something with Ginger. This is noted in a scene where Ace asks her where she went for dinner, who with, and what they both had. Sam had his suspicions about her playing the field, but probably not with his childhood friend, though he does say he hoped it wasn't with who he thought it would be because the complications would mean they could both wind up dead.
The film goes into its third phase at this point, and it is clear Nicky and his crew are off the rails. They're doing a lot of cocaine and getting sloppy, which, according to the mob bosses, is bad for business. In a conversation with Frankie Marino, Nicky wants him to dig a couple of holes in the desert in the chance that he might have Ace taken out there and buried. The scene with Nicky and Ginger arguing is one which shows how bad things have gotten out there in Las Vegas, but it also shows that Nicky probably doesn't really want to kill his friend, especially for the woman in-between them both.
During the final moments of the film, The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" plays in the background as mobsters are arrested, arraigned and killed, and Ginger's story is concluded. The most graphic scene came at the end which involved Nicky and his mobster friends in a cornfield. I am not going to go into detail, and hope you will understand if you haven't seen it. You will understand if you have, though.
Sam Rothstein can be labelled as a money maker for the Mafia. He's Jewish so isn't really one of the full family members because only people with Italian blood can be. That doesn't stop the Mob from using his knowledge of how to earn the green stuff, and along with his childhood friend, Nicky, he helped turn the desert of Las Vegas into Sin City. Rothstein is a guy who likes to have what he wants, and with Ginger he couldn't get enough. The real-life Frank Rosenthal was a bookmaker who knew the odds of nearly every sports event there was, and he would usually win. In later years he retired to Miami after being placed in Las Vegas' "Black Book" and died in 2008 at the grand age of 79. Robert De Niro was born to play gangsters and with Rothstein he takes his role seriously. I am often surprised that he did not receive an Oscar nomination, which went to Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas".
Nicky Santoro is a violent thug with a love for the money but he is a family man and makes breakfast for his son every Sunday. He does like the ladies, though, and has been known to stray from his wife. He's a volatile guy who would rather beat you senseless and ask questions later, or if it came to it, he'd put a bullet in you before you even had a chance to respond. Nicky is what you would call a mob enforcer. If things don't go their way they'll send him in to sort it out, and he will get the job done. The casting department did a great job at giving the job of Santoro to Joe Pesci. He also looks like Anthony Spilotro (the gangster Santoro is based on) a little which also adds to the detail.
Ginger McKenna is a beautiful hustler and some might say she was also a con artist. She would hover around the casinos of Las Vegas looking for gamblers who can't fail to be attracted to her, and she turns their luck, taking a cut of the chips they earn. She still cannot shake the feeling she has for Lester Diamond, which is an ongoing story during the film. The real-life Geraldine McGee died at the age of 46 of a drug overdose. The character of Ginger is played brilliantly by Sharon Stone, and it's hard not to like her. Stone was rightly nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but lost out to Susan Sarandon for her portrayal of Helen Prejean in "Dead Man Walking".
"Casino" is a true masterpiece, and one of Scorsese's finest offerings. It might be a long-winded affair to some, but for those that can sit through an epic film of Mafia violence and dealings, it will definitely be right up there as one of the best you'll ever see. It's shocking in parts, it's graphic in others, and there is some very good acting in-between. This is one of my very favourite films of all time and could even be the best I've watched. It's certainly as good as "Goodfellas", another Scorsese/De Niro/Pesci offering, and because it is of a more modern take, I somewhat prefer it over "The Godfather", as brilliant as that was. Kudos must also go to the supporting cast. The likes of Don Rickles, Frank Vincent and James Woods all play their parts wonderfully.
What the Critics Say
Chicago Tribune: "You can't praise highly enough the contributions of the ensemble--De Niro and Pesci especially--but it's Scorsese's triumph."
Variety: "Possesses a stylistic boldness and verisimilitude that is virtually matchless."
Rolling Stone: "Whether or not the movie meets your expectations, it delivers the rush you only get from an audacious gamble."
Time: "So long as the movie stays focused on the excesses -- of language, of violence, of ambition -- in the life-styles of the rich and infamous, it remains a smart, knowing, if often repetitive, spectacle."
New York Times: "Of all the bravura visual effects in Martin Scorsese's dazzingly stylish Casino, it's a glimpse of ordinary people that delivers the greatest jolt."
My rating: 9/10
The combination of director Martin Scorsese, and actors Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta gave us the excellent Goodfellas, a violent mob thriller that tested friendship and trust to the limit. As a tried and tested combination, this little group had produced something remarkable, and Scorsese turned to De Niro and Pesci again for the making of Casino, substituting the blue eyes of Liotta for the beauty of Sharon Stone to complete the foursome. The result is another really long mob based thriller with plenty of violence, swearing and riveting fast paced action and narrative.
To say it's not original because of the casting lineup wouldn't be fair - Casino is very much its own film. However, there are so many similarities in the way that the two lead actors go about their roles that inferences to Goodfellas are inevitable. De Niro plays a calm and controlled man you wouldn't want to cross, while Pesci rekindles the mantle of the violent and uncontrollable mobber with short man syndrome. What Sharon Stone does is drive a wedge between these boyhood friends with an acting performance that won her an Oscar nomination for the drug addled wife of De Niro's casino boss.
After a brief intro explaining how the two friends grew up together, the scene flicks to Las Vegas, where De Niro starts the voiceover, telling us how his character Sam Rothstein managed to land the role as casino manager for the mob, running it his own way with his own controls. There are big similarities here between Sam and Ocean's Eleven's Terry Benedict in terms of his meticulous nature, and it's a good way of showing how the casino works and who's who on the floor and in the back rooms. It also gives us a good overview of the mob's ownership, why they can't be in Vegas themselves and how the money gets to them. What this does is leave the rest of the film wide open for the real plot of the story, that of the relationship between our three leads.
By the time Pesci fully comes into the equation, his arrival has been built up with the knowledge that he's going to cause trouble no matter what. He's essentially being moved away from one area because of casuing trouble, so you know that he's just going to continue wherever he ends up, in this case in Vegas right where his life long friendship with Sam can be tested to its limits. As Nicky Santoro, Pesci is fast talking and very convincing, and is pretty much a carbon copy of his role as Tommy, hitting first with extreme violence and then thinking second with the occasional bit of remorse and apology.
Hot headed, it's a recipe for disaster when you throw in a financial parasite like Stone's Ginger, who walks into their lives and captures everyone with her beauty, charm and flair for socialising. Ginger loves money, and it's the number one priority. As the film progresses, the initially beautiful lady becomes slowly more and more affected by the drugs and drink she gets addicted to, and the way the subtle visual changes in makeup are done are very good, although they pale in comparison to how Stone acts the character. She really pulls out all the stops here, especially in a scene where she's violently aggressive towards Sam towards the end of the film. It's so good it's almost funny - you know when someone's so mad about something that it almost seems over the top. Here, this is exactly what it's like, although there's no over acting, it's all perfectly pitched and somewhat terrifying when you consider there's a daughter involved. You never feel sorry for her as it's all completely her own fault, but she is stuck on her dependency to Sam in terms of finance and her ex boyfriend Lester (James Woods) who keeps promising her a better life and supplies her drugs and fleeces her for money.......Sam's money!
I suppose Lester is the real parasite in all of it, and it's his little carefully placed digs to Ginger that incite the anger and upset she feels. This in turn affects Sam, and when she turns to Nicky for help because Sam is (quite rightly) worried about his daughter's safety and also the future of their relationship, things turn sour. By this time, Nicky's demeanour has caused friction in Vegas, and the whole thing is just an explosion waiting to happen. Things keep getting referred back to the mob bosses, nestled in hundreds of miles away, unable to be there in person but exerting their considerable influence all the time, and Scorsese is very good at reminding us that it's all about the mob, that everything stems from their influence.
The director's style is very noticeable. He's very character driven, and loves a bit of blood. He likes to shock, and the way he uses his cast to get this done is very impressive. The use of narrative to give us an overview means that you don't get bored just of the visual and on screen conversation all the time. Even the moments between scenes are punctuated with either Sam or Nicky providing commentary, and this ensures a smooth flow from start to finish that is essential in a film that is well over two hours long. The tried and tested combo of De Niro and Pesci works best when it shows there is history of friendship between the two of them, as there is in real life here, and this comes through on the screen, genuine disappointment in their negative situation coming through when the actors are on screen together, although you'll notice this becomes rare as the film progresses.
There are no twists and turns here, or at least nothing that you shouldn't expect. Scorsese doesn't try to give us a thriller with surprises, just the occasional shock when it comes to violence. A word of warning that there are multiple scenes which are extremely violent and an equal if not higher number of scenes where the language is abominable and could easily cause offence. I didn't do a word count, but the 'f' word must be closing on triple figures in terms of how many times it was said. Pesci's right arm must also have been tired from the amount of hitting he did in the film as well.
I do think this is a great film, and despite not being able to stop thinking about Goodfellas all the way through, I thought it was excellently executed from start to finish. It's maybe a tad long, and some of the scenes could have been a lot shorter, but the way things progressed with the three leads meant that the film never slows down and doesn't feel like it's really long unless you're particularly keeping an eye on the clock. Stone towers above the solid performances of De Niro and Pesci, who provide such a solid base that she had all the opportunity in the world to give her outstanding performance. She has them to thank, really, for providing that niche for Ginger to slot into. I highly recommend watching Casino - I think it gives you something to entertain you from start to finish, and as long as you're aware of the violence and swearing, then this won't bother. Great stuff.
Another fabulous Martin Scorsese gangster biopic, again starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and this time Sharon Stone with support from Frank Vincent and James Woods in a film that is basically a larger version of GoodFellas. Though not quite as good as GoodFellas, this is still hugely entertaining. This is again based upon a true story, this time about the Mafia and their connections to Las Vegas.
Robert De Niro plays Sam Rothstein, a top gambling handicapper based upon the real life man called Frank Rosenthal. He originally started out as a sports gambler, but thanks to connections to the Mafia he moved up and was in contol of three of Las Vegas' big casinos. However, along the way he discovers that runnins casinos is hugely difficult, and that boyhood connections are not only hard to shake, but can also affect your employment chances. Especially in Vegas, where at the time of filming people were easily bribed, and people were aware that the Mafia had a lot to do with Las Vegas.
Those connections in the film refer to boyhood friend and criminal Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) who is based upon Anthony Spilotro. He is a violent man who stops at nothing to get waht he wants. He becomes so violent in Las Vegas that he is banned from all casinos and is forced to do other crimes.
So you have Sam Rothstein, who is running his casinos whist trying to keep a terribly marriage to his wife Ginger (Sharon Stone) togteher, adn whilst trying to ensure he's not killed by other gangsters. Then there's Nicky, who is so violent that he's causing trouble for Sam and could cost him his job. He also starts an affair with Sam's wife Ginger. Soon, there is so much tension between the two, and so many other things happening within the casinos and out on the streets of Vegas that the violence and trouble spill over, and the FI begin to close the net leading to a violent finale.
This is a superb film. Though it's a bit like GoodFellas but on a bigger scale, it's still a fantastic biopic of some of American's most notorious gangsters and the way in which they were able to skim money from casino profits from under the noses of everyone.
Robert De Niro is on fine form always, though you feel he much like his character in GoodFellas. And the same goes for Joe Pesci. He's brilliant as the psycho gangster Nicky, but he's basically the same character as he was in GoodFellas.
However, it's Sharon Stone who really steals this as Ginger, the drug addicted wife of Sam. At times you feel bad for her because she's been dragged into a mess she shouldn't have. At other times you're just desperate for Sam to dump her because she's such a liablity. Stone was Oscar nominated for her role, and she should have won to be honest. She really is outstanding.
And watch out for Frank Vincent as a violent mobster, and James Woods as Ginger's loser lover who is always taking her for Sam's money.
This is a wonderfully directed and very stylish film from Martin Scorsese, who adds his trademark violence to the film's numerous scenes. There are some brutal scenes in this, so if you're not a fan of violence, then this isn't for you. Other than that, it's a very good film.
Martin Scoresse classic ganster movie written by Nicholas Pileggi with an all star cast that includes, Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, James Pesci, James Wood. This Universal picture production was filmed in various locations including Baker, Mojave Desert, California. The film won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award (both for Sharon stone best actress) and also won a Silver Ribbon for Best Dubbing and Best Production Design.
The film portrays the glitz and glamour as well as the dark side of Las Vegas. Our main character is Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, who attempts to become a legitimate casino operator in the Tangiers Casino but can't seem to shake of his mob connections. He has a money motivated hustle wife called Ginger and a crazy and dangerous boyhood friend called Nicky. Whist Ace has a civilized agenda in mind his erratic and violent friend has a more aggressive approach.
Another great gangster classic from this amazing Director who has given us the amazing ganster classic, Goodfellas. Now the reason I mention Goodfellas is that there are alot of similarities between the two movies and they do seem to be compared with each other. Unfortunately the majority of the public opinion seems to have Casino coming off second best. I liked both these movies and there is no disputing Casino is one of those movies that deserves to make it in the gangster hall of fame. It is an underrated film that is over shadowed by other Scorsese classics but is great bit of film making with brilliant performances and deserves a lot more credit.
Sharon Stone does a brilliant job playing Ginger and has played a similar character in Scarface so seemed was very comfortable in her role. Robert De Niro and Jo Pesci are brilliant playing good gangster, bad gangster and again played similiar roles in Goodfellas. They have been partnered up before due to their brilliant on screen chemistry (Raging Bull, Goodfellas). For me Pesci steals the show because it always take you off guard when you see this funny little guy explode into fits of unnatural rage. I agree with most people it appears the the director has taken some of what worked with Goodfellas and added it to this movie but why not, if it works and it's not broken, why fix it.
In my opinion having seen mob and mafia films like the Godfather trilogy which were brilliant, Casino ranks up there with the best of them and I have to say I enjoy the whole casino set up both in real life and in films like 21 so am very interested in movies relating to this. Martin Scorsese is a great director and has done it again with this film. He has amassed massive talent and characters that are unforgettable.
The movie is about the days when Las Vegas was still run by the mob and they even controlled the hotels. For years the goings on at this mecca of all casino venues was putting money in their pockets, even if a lot of times it was illegal.
Robert DeNiro plays Sam Rothstein who takes the manager's job at the Tangiers Hotel. Although not sure at first about the position he takes the job. The whole story is narrated by Sam and his childhood friend Nicky Santoro played by Joe Pesci. Nicky Santaro is bad news and it didn't matter how big a guy was he would take him on. He had no fear and would keep coming back at you unless you killed him off. Therefore, the mob bosses thought it would be good idea if Nicky stayed in Las Vegas to help Sam run things and clean up if things got out of control.
As a side plot Sam meets Ginger played by Sharon Stone and falls in love with her almost immediately. However, she is still in love with her ex boyfriend Lester played by James Woods who is a bit of a lowlife. Sam know about this but tries to break the infatuation by trusting her with everything he has and makes. It might not be that easy though.
Once Nicky arrives in Vegas he creates problems for both himself and Sam. He gets into fights wherever he goes and steals from houses. In addition to that he has a terrible reputation and has been 'black listed' from the casinos in the area. He is constantly being watched and because of all this Sam doesn't want him anywhere near him and his life at the hotel. He believes that Nicky brings trouble wherever he goes and he could do without that. This of course doesn't please Nicky and so a dangerous game develops between the two where neither trusts the other.
The characters are followed throughout the rise and fall of the Tangiers hotel and their tenure as profitable members of the mafia in Las Vegas in those days. Unfortunately nobody stays at the top forever. Sooner or later they are toppled from that perch.
As I loved The Godfather and Goodfellas I also loved Casino. Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci are absolutely brilliant in their roles. There is plenty of violence and sex and bad language as you'd probably expect from one of these movies. Possibly there is too much as it's not to everyone's tastes. I was dragged into the mob world and the casinos straight way and became intrigued with everything and the characters who played such a major part in this dark, underhand world.
I felt drawn to the character of Sam and wanted him to succeed and for him and Ginger to get together and at the same time Nicky is a nasty piece of work and doesn't deserve much. The movie shows that the characters do have feelings and consider others as in the case of Sam whereas normally when you think of the mafia compassion and feelings are not two words that spring to mind.
One of the most interesting things I found when watching this movie was how normal gamblers like you and me go into casinos and legitimate money goes in but is taken out the other end and was dispersed amongst members of the mafia and organised crime in general. It is a realistic account of how crime had a hold for years over 'legalised gambling'.
Casino was made in 1995 and was nominated for many accolades and rightly so. For me the who film was interesting and I wasn't bored despite being pretty long at nearly three hours long. There is so much drama in the movie that you can't really get bored by it. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys these sorts of film but not to anyone who is easily offended by bad language.
For me this is an underrated film which should always be sold combined with Goodfellas as an example of a period of Scorcese's work in which he was at his very best.
This film is again written by Nicola Pileggi and reunited Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in lead roles.
The film is set in Nevada in the 1970's and focuses on the lives of gangsters living in Las Vegas. Based partially on true events, De Niro plays Sam "Ace" Rothstein a casino manager who has moved up the game from being a bookie, he falls in love with Ginger (Sharon Stone), he allows his heart to rule his head and finds trouble with Ginger and her pimp/ex, Lester (James Woods), just when his life couldn't get any more confusing his mate Nicky (Pesci) arrives and things get seriously troublesome.
The film looks at the mobs control of the gambling scene on the sunset strip and as with all Scorcese films is beautifully shot, he really captures the seedy romance of this man made gambling metropolis, we see the highs and lows, winners and losers and learn about the control the mob once had of this tortured city.
The film is basically a story about a logical, brilliant man who ignores every rule he created in gambling in falling for the wrong woman and the collapse of his life which was on the verge of greatness.
De Niro is excellent in the lead role and also as Narrator while Pesci again plays a psycho, which works to a lesser level than it did in Goodfellas, for me Stone is actually pretty good amongst such an esteemed cast, she really does play the Femme Fatale really well and you can see why De Niro allows himself to be confused so easily by her, Woods as always hams it up and seems to really relish screen time with De Niro.
Overall this film is not a patch on Goodfellas, it is beautifully shot and some scenes are wonderful, but at 3 hours its around 45 minutes too long and some of the actors are a bit too stereotyped for my liking. The score is awesome fitting the era and the area perfectly and the place looks perfect, unfortunately the story lets it down, to make it a 3 out of 5 film, it works when watched alongside Goodfellas but it really does pale in comparison to this alltime classic.
Robert De Niro ... Sam 'Ace' Rothstein
Sharon Stone ... Ginger McKenna
Joe Pesci ... Nicky Santoro
James Woods ... Lester Diamond
Frank Vincent ... Frank Marino
Pasquale Cajano ... Remo Gaggi
Kevin Pollak ... Phillip Green
Don Rickles ... Billy Sherbert
Vinny Vella ... Artie Piscano
Alan King ... Andy Stone
L.Q. Jones ... Pat Webb
Dick Smothers ... Senator
Joseph Rigano ... Vincent Borelli
John Bloom ... Don Ward
Melissa Prophet ... Jennifer Santoro
The DVD is available for £3.68 on Amazon.
1995 brought us another Martin Scorsese classic, and one of my favourite films of the 1990's. Coupled with a familiar cast led by Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone you can expect everything from the legends involved.
This isn't a film for the faint hearted, there is a lot of violence. The language isn't pretty and there are both scenes involving drugs and sex.
I won't ruin the plot if you haven't seen the movie already, I suggest buying it though after reading this because you are about 15 years too late in watching it!!
As you would expect from the title of the movie the film is about a casino. One that has a new boss, 'Ace Rothstein'. He was chosen because of his history and respect within the 'Mafia' community. The film starts with a younger 'Ace' and shows him growing up, developing into what he is in the present. Much like the film 'A Bronx Tale' which starred De Niro.
Pesci as 'Nicky Sontoro' is 'Ace's' childhood friend. They grow up together but go their own ways only to be brought together again. He plays a similar role to what you would expect of him in these types of movies. Someone you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of, someone one on a power trip let loose.
Expect dodgy deals, double crossings, and a deeply developed cast and story, and what I love the most, voiceovers by the characters. Martin Scorsese brings supporting cast that have been in his previous movies such as 'Goodfellas'. They slip into their roles with ease and bring with them a feeling of authenticity to their scenes.
The film is brutal, but not over done. It is a very clever film giving you an insight on how things were 'back in the day'. Having been based on true events anyone who is interested in Vegas or the Mafia should give this a viewing.
A masterpiece that offers the viewer something new every time it is watched.
5 out of 5
Casino is one of the underrated masterpieces of Martin Scorsese, often praised but nevertheless criticised for being too similar to his best film, Goodfellas. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Nicholas Pileggi (who also wrote the book upon which Goodfellas was based), Casino is based on a number of real casinos, documenting their day to day operations, and most importantly, the men that ran them. Robert DeNiro starts as Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a "cooler" employed by the mob to observe day to day operations of the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Joe Pesci, meanwhile, plays Nicky Santoro, a violent psychopath that is, to be fair, very much a retread of Tommy Devito from Goodfellas, but nevertheless extremely funny and entertaining (the scene where he stabs a guy in the neck repeatedly with a pen has become very iconic and has been spoofed numerous times). Sharon Stone, meanwhile, plays Ace's wife, Ginger, a materialistic, greedy, spoiled drug addict who frequently comes between the two men. The role earned Stone an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film is also famous for its graphic violence and excessive use of language, ranking among the most profane films of all time, with over 400 uses of the F-word.
It's hardly original material for Scorsese, and it is fair to say that it's something of a retread, but I like to think of it more as an accompanying companion piece to Goodfellas. Whilst it's not quite as rich or deep in its storytelling and characterisation as Goodfellas, and some of the similarities do seem rather lazy on author Pillegi's part, this is still extremely entertaining stuff, and a gangster film with a Vegas twist, with only the style and taut direction that Scorsese can deliver.
Despite sharing many similarities with Scorsese's previous work Goodfellas, Casino is a thoroughly entertaining crime drama with a collection of fantastic performances from Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Sharon Stone, as well as Scorsese's typically spectacular direction.
Casino is a film that everyone of my generation has probably seen and would likely hold as one of their favourite films, but if you asked them they probably haven't watched it for years. In my opinion, that is the problem with this film. It is an amazing film, truely brilliant, but not one that you need to re-watch.
The film itself, from 1995, was Academy Award nominated and deservedly so. Another great film directed by Martin Scorsese, so you know exactly what you are going to get. The film itself is based on a true story, the story of Frank "Lefty" Rosendthal who was the ownerof three major Vegas casinos in the 70's.
The film stars three big hitters amongst its massive and complex cast. Leading role goes to Robert de Niro who plays Sam "the Ace" Rothstein who is called in by the mob to oversee the day to day operations of a casino. Aces wife is played by Sharon Stone (Ginger) whose spoiled, devious life as Aces wife won her an Oscar nomination. The grit and violence is bought to the film (although not exclusively) by Joe Pesci who plays the mobster controlling agent who makes sure that the mob aways get their return at whatever cost.
The plot for the film sees Sam rise from sports handicapper to the manager of the Tangiers Casino. He pretty much overnight doubles the profits of the Casino and in turn the mob sends in his childhood friend "Nicky" (Pesci) to help him make sure things run smoothly. Through Sams running of the Tangier he encounters and falls in love with Ginger (Stone).
While Nicky is not involved in looking after Sam he is busy getting barred and banned from all Vegas casinos for blatant cheating and scamming. He is also with a group of friends setting up dodgy businesses and laundering money. This action soons draws in the FBI and after a shooting at one of his establishments Nicky flips out. Putting the head of Dogs (who is an up and coming name in Vegas) in a vice enables Nicky to get the names of those who have gone against him and he begins addressing the score.
Back with Sam and Ginger it comes out the Ginger is still funding her old pimp Lester (James Woods). On finding this out Sam releases Nicky and his gang to deal with Lester the only way Nicky knows. Ginger seeks sollace with Nicky, upset with Sam's treatment of Lester.
Nicky and Sam then fall out over the Lester incident but Sam is bothered by Nicky's reckless business dealings which have bought the FBI and police to watch the activities of the casinos in Vegas. Ginger flees vegas for Europe with her former pimp Lester only returning to Vegas for the safety of her daughter. Ginger, turning more heavily to drink and drugs, has an affair with Nicky and as Sam finds this out the Tangiers empire along with the friendship between Sam and Nicky crumbles.
The film is a really good watch and is beautifully done. Word of warning though - this film also broke the record for the most frequent use of the f word and has some violent scenes.
Casino is perfect Scorsese and a really good long watch. I do own this on DVD and whilst I love the film I never find myself wanting to re-watch it, however it is an amazing film.
Casino made me think about human nature, distorted and ironic are our actions for futile things. There are three spectacular characters, all addicted to money, and all with different ways of getting hold of it and spending it. What is interesting is the simple fact that no one is innocent. At least at first glace, everyones' in the game, everyones' in "business".
Martin Scorcese is able to recreate the feeling in Goodfellas (1990), I felt drawn in by the organized crime story, and the mostly cruel characters. Joe Pesci plays the "badass" compellingly, I'm now officially afraid of him, and will have nightmares throughout the rest of my adult life. The twisted mind of Nicky Santoro is something to behold.
The amount of on screen violence is incredible, and Martin Scorcese has made it quite compelling. Weapons that are almost... experimental and brutal murder without remorse. Actually, with pleasure.
Casino is the 1995 Gangster film written and directed by the great Martin Scorsese, based around events in the life of real life crook Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal. Starring Robert De Niro as Sam 'Ace' Rothstein the chain-smoking, gambling handicapper, who acts as casino manager at the Tangiers Casino, based in Las Vegas in the film. With supporting roles from Joe Pesci as Nicky Santoro (based on real life mobster Anthony 'Tony the Ant' Spilotro (to simply put it a psychopath, and a almost mirror image of Pesci's Goodfella's character), and Sharon Stone as Ace's wife Ginger, a role she won several awards for.
The film's plot centre's around Ace after he is picked by mob bosses to look after their casino. Ace's management soon makes profits hit the roof which causes (much to Aces disapproval) Pesci's character Santoro to make sure no one tries to mess with their business. Santoro's violent temper is soon apparent making him more of a hindrance than a help, while things are made worse by Ace's junkie wife Ginger (Stone) and her problems getting over ex boyfriend and drug dealer Lester Diamond, played by the always top notch James Woods.
One particular incident that takes place leads to retribution from Pesci and his men. After a shooting take's place in a mob owned dinner, Pesci is requested to get the information from rising mob member Tony Dogs. He does this by placing Dogs head in a vice and tightening it until his eye pops out, gruesome but a awesome bit of film.
The problem's Ace has with running the casino and Pesci is only half the story though. His relationship with his wife (including seeing them meet and get married), his child, and Diamond take's up a good section of the plot and is equally engaging as the main premise of the film. Ginger's fall into cocaine addiction is a compelling part of the story, powerfully played by Stone. At times you really feel for the character and then things happen which completely switch your view, like her handcuffing her little girl to the bed while she goes to a restaurant. I don't think Stone has ever put in a performance like this in her entire career and seems like she was born for this role.
The 'cocaine' theme continues to Nicky and his gang as most of them become addicted and increasingly reckless in their actions. Greed and corruption leads to the FBI and other's getting wind of what was happening at starts the eventual fall from grace Ace and the rest take.
The film is based around the 1970's and early 1980's and the music for the film reflects that perfectly. From artists like BB King, The Animals, and Fleetwood Mac the music fits in with the story and the atmosphere to the film beautifully.
The scene's are filmed very much like Goodfella's (the film is in fact considered an accompaniment to it's predecessor, although not directly related) going from the different perspectives of the main character's with them narrating the scene's. This really build's the characters and makes you feel like you know that little bit better.
Overall a excellent film that is a must to any gangster film, De Niro fans, Stone fans, or just great film fans. It's not a film for the easily offended but it's a gangster pic, did you expect anything else? Go check this out.
Another Scorsese great! I just rented and watched this movie as it's one of his films I hadn't yet seen (along with raging bull but that's another review...) and thought it was great. I think on comparison to his other films it's equally as good, and similar in some ways to Goodfellas. Casino is another mob movie, however this time set in Las Vegas. The story follows Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (Robert De Niro) a mob-connected Casino owner who finds living a civilized life proves to be harder than he first imagined. It also follows his relationship with Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and the love of his life Ginger (Sharon Stone). Violence and drug abuse follow the story as in most Scorsese movies and sees how Ace's life slowly begins to unravel, first with his wife Ginger trying to take his child and then eventually the death of his friend Nicky. The film is nearly three hours long and in my opinion you need a film to be that long for it to be memorable and an all time great. You connect with the characters well in the movie, however maybe not so much as some of his other films. Even though it may be as good as Goodfellas... the only problem I found was, now he's made so many of this type of film. I mean 'The Departed' was a nice break from his usual style of mob movies and a lot more interesting for that reason. Although this is a must see for all Scorsese fans, for people who aren't fans but have seen a lot of other movies by the same director, you may not find it as great.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci...
Other films you may enjoy: Goodfellas, Scarface, The Godfather, The Departed
3.99 at Play.com (18 March 2008)
Las Vegas Vice
Once upon a time Las Vegas wasn't just a tacky place to lose your money, it was a dangerously tacky place to lose your money, a place run by gangsters. God forbid you ever crossed them. This film follows their entry in the seedy world of gambling, their rise and their fall.
It is based on a true story with Robert DeNiro starring as Sam "Ace" Rothstein, based on the real life Casino boss Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. A repected betting expert who is persuaded by the mafia to run a casino in Vegas. A job he does with relish.
When it was released Casino was heralded as Goodfellas 2. There are many similarities to Goodfellas, the characters often have the same characteristics, especially Pesci playing a ruthlessly violent and unpredictable psychopath.
Like Goodfellas an event at the start of the film links back with a scene near the end, altought the rest of the film is linear.
The problem with the film I feel is the narration. The running commentary by DeNiro and Pesci just don't cut it, they don't seem to have the right entusiasm and tone. It worked in Goodfellas, not here.
DeNiro of course acts his socks off, his performace is always worth the price of entry. Pesci is also very convincing. Sharon Stone is very good also as a former prostitute who seduces DeNiro with her carefree ways but who cannot escape her former life.
Violence is the name of the game in this film, especially the infamous vice scene, this is an event that actually happened, and it makes me feel queasy every time I see it. If you don't like violence in films then don't watch this. Swearing is also abundant.
The film is quite lengthy at three hours however the fast editing and quick dialogue make the film go very quickly.
Summing up, this is a good film, it's just not a match for Goodfellas, although if you enjoyed that you will undoubtedly enjoy this. This is probably the last great DeNiro gangster film.
Main Cast List
Robert De Niro - Sam 'Ace' Rothstein
Sharon Stone - Ginger McKenna
Joe Pesci - Nicky Santoro
James Woods - Lester Diamond
Running Time : 178 Minutes
Directed By : Martin Scorsese
Certificate : 18
Thanks for reading.
After coming to the attention of the mob bosses in Chicago for his expertise as a very successful bookmaker, as well as being a loyal work horse, Sam "Ace" Rothstein is dispatched to Las Vegas to utilise his expertise in the mega bucks world of the Casinos. Given full control of running one of the boss's largest casinos, he soon turns it into a slick and successful operation, allowing the Chicago bosses to cream of profits whilst going undetected. His ruthless business manner made him as many enemies as it did friends, as he made sure that the only winner in his casino was himself.
Wary of protecting their investment in Las Vegas, the Chicago crime bosses send Sam's old friend and ruthless murderer, Nicky Santoro, to keep an eye on him. Especially as Sam had become romantically involved with small time hustler Ginger McKenna, who worked the tables and the clients of the casinos, making money for her pimp, Lester Diamond. Undeterred by her dubious background, Sam convinces Ginger into marrying him and baring him a child, even though she did not really love him and was only really interested in the luxurious lifestyle that he could provide her with.
But with Nicky starting to explore his own illegal avenues amongst the lights of Vegas, and Ginger hitting the bottle due to her unhappy marriage to the controlling Sam, things start to spiral out of control. Things reach breaking point when Ginger turns to Nicky for support and consolation, causing Sam to doubt the loyalty of not only his wife but also a friend who had grown up on the streets of Chicago with him.
In the world of film making, there is no such thing as a dead cert; even the best directors and actors have made some seriously terrible movies. But the closest thing you can get to a sure bet, is the pairing of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, whose joint cinematic outings have brought us many classics from "Mean Streets" and "Raging Bull" through to the critically acclaimed "Goodfellas". So with the release of "Casino" in 1995, it is no surprise that this is yet another cinematic triumph for the infamous pairing. Add in to the mix, De Niro's long term friend Joe Pesci and hot Hollywood star, Sharon Stone, and in deed you have a film worthy of comparison to many of their earlier cinematic outings.
Coming from the pen of Nicholas Pileggi, who had previously wrote "Goodfellas", Casino is loosely based upon the true story of Frank Rosenthal, a Las Vegas casino manager who was heavily linked to the criminal underworld. Following the story of the lead character as he deals with the betrayal of his wife and best friend, the film also goes to some lengths to explain how the crime bosses were able to manipulate the Las Vegas system to make it one of their most profitable arms of their businesses. In fact the first half of the film, examines the mechanics of how this manipulation was possible, but still manages to remain highly entertaining in true Hollywood style. It is not until the second half of the film that we get into the crux of the story which utilises the relationships between Sam, Ginger and Nicky to play out a rather spectacular drama, which explores many themes such as love, greed, hatred, violence and betrayal to provide us with a very engrossing cinematic experience.
As you would expect with a film focussing on the world of the mob bosses, there are some very graphical scenes of violence. These do in fact add to the story, rather than just being added for shock value, and in all honesty are few and far between. But for those viewers, who do have a week stomach, may find some of them rather unpleasant and a bit stomach churning.
It is indeed a remarkable fact, that some of Robert De Niro's best performances have come at the hands of director, Martin Scorsese and that is certainly the case with is performance in Casino. Taking on the lead role of Sam "Ace" Rothstein, De Niro puts in a performance which displays his remarkable ability to portray a character of considerable depth. As is usually the case with a De Niro/ Scorsese vehicle, you get one star and another automatically follows, that being the multitalented Joe Pesci. If there ever was a Hollywood star destined to be a mafia gangster, it was surely Joe Pesci. His portrayal of murderous gangster, Nicky Santoro builds on his own very impressive portfolio of works and demonstrates that he is as skilful an actor as the legendary Robert De Niro. Making up the trio of stars is Sharon Stone, as the seductive Ginger McKenna whose beauty captivates the character of Sam Rothstein. Although her performance is by no means in the same league as that of De Niro's, she still manages to hold her own in all of her scenes and demonstrates that she too can also play characters which are much deeper than the ones which shot her to celebrity status. Other notable names which make performances in this film are, Don Rickles, who takes on the role of assistant casino manager who basically gets paid to be Sam's right hand man on the Casino floor and look solemn as they go about their business. Also appearing is James Woods as the slimy pimp, Lester Diamond, who manages to retain some control over Ginger's life, even after her marriage to Sam.
A lot of praise should be steeped upon director Martin Scorsese for providing yet another insightful, but also entertaining, look at the gangster world. Like many of his previous movies, Scorsese manages to combine information and entertainment with effortless ease and it is not until you think about what you have just watched, do you realise that you have learnt so much. If I was to have one criticism of Casino, and in particular the direction of Scorsese, is that he has not brought anything new to this film, which ha had not done before. Maybe this is me being a bit over critical, as the film is very entertaining and truly magnificent. But where in the past he has dazzled us with amazing use of cinematography, he seems to have relied on exactly the same techniques to dazzle us again.
Set over three decades, culminating in the 70s, the soundtrack encompasses the sounds of the period. With pieces coming from a varied selection of artists including Louis Prima, Dean Martin, Little Richard, The Rolling Stones and B.B. King, to name just a few. It is one of Scorsese's great skills that he manages to pick musical pieces which not only reflect the period of the film, but also ones which demonstrate the emotions being portrayed in the scenes.
So now after eleven years, has Casino lost any of its enjoyment and magnificence that it had on its original release? In all honesty no, it is great testament to the skills of not only De Niro and Scorsese, but also those of writer Nicholas Pileggi, that after so many years, Casino still remains a very entertaining and insightful film. It is a remarkable fact, that having seen this film at least ten times, that after my last viewing, I picked up on several new things, which I had not noticed on the numerous previous viewings. This for me is part of the reason why I still hold Casino in quite high regard, as any film which still manages to reveal itself in new ways after so many years and viewings, has to be very good. Compared to other films of the gangster genre, it is a more than adequate attempt, but unfortunately lacks the freshness of "Goodfellas" or the epic magnitude of "The Godfather Trilogy". Some people will watch a film based on the star, others on who the director is, some because the genre appeal to them, I would recommend this to everyone, as it is a master class in what an epic movie is all about, a captivating storyline, brilliant performances and expert direction.
Cast and Crew
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producer: Barbara De Fina
Writer: Nicholas Pileggi
Robert De Niro ---- Sam 'Ace' Rothstein
Sharon Stone ---- Ginger McKenna/Rothstein
Joe Pesci ---- Nicky Santoro
James Woods ---- Lester Diamond
Don Rickles ---- Billy Sherbert
Kevin Pollak ---- Phillip Green
Frank Vincent ---- Frank Marino
Pasquale Cajano ---- Remo Gaggi
Dick Smothers ---- Senator
Joseph Rigano ---- Vincent Borelli
John Bloom ---- Don Ward
Year of Release: 1995
Duration: 171 mins
Genre: Crime, Drama, Gangster
Price & Availability
Amazon.co.uk ---- £6.97
Bensonsworld.co.uk ---- £13.99
Play.com ---- £6.99
© ChristianFilm April 2006
Martin Scorsese brings the sinister tale we all like to hear about Las Vegas to the little screen. Robert De Niro plays Sam Rothstein a gangster placed at the head of a mob owned Casino owner. His best friend Nicky (Joe Pesci) comes out to join him as the muscle behind the operation, which is basically to obtain as much cash as possible as soon as possible for the aging heads of the mafia. The casino is purchased through a figurehead who is basically paid to sign cheques allowing the gangsters to run riot. Rothstein is a machine. He knows betting like we know how to breathe, and soon has the Tangiers (the casino) doubling and trebling revenues, pleasing the gangsters. Nicky (Pesci) is sent out to make Sam isn't taking the preverbial and 'take out' anyone who threatens to put a stop to the money making scheme. This he does with a rigour and pleasure rarely seen in that type of work, but at the same time bringing 'heat' on Sam bringing his reputation into the limelight. Sam meets his money obsessed future wife in LV played superbly by Sharon Stone, and from here the Rothstein dream begins to peter out and cops are called in for monitoring. The film itself is a definitive classic with Scorsese at the helm the film is fast paced with incredible characterisation and beautifully shot. The extras are a little plain with the bare minimum such as scene access and interactive menus however the general consesus of this film is one of awe and alongside Goodfellas is a classic gangster film for the 90's A must have
Director Martin Scorsese reunites with members of his GoodFellas gang (writer Nicholas Pileggi; actors Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Frank Vincent) for a three-hour epic about the rise and fall of mobster Sam "Ace" Rothstein (De Niro), a character based on real-life gangster Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. (It's modelled on Wiseguy and GoodFellas and Pileggi's true crime book Casino: Love and Honour in Las Vegas.) Through Rothstein, the picture tells the story of how the Mafia seized, and finally lost control of, Las Vegas gambling. The first hour plays like a fascinating documentary, intricately detailing the inner workings of Vegas casinos. Sharon Stone is the stand out among the actors; she nabbed an Oscar nomination for her role as the voracious Ginger, the glitzy call girl who becomes Rothstein's wife. The film is not as fast-paced or gripping as Scorsese's earlier gangster pictures (Mean Streets and Good Fellas) but it's still absorbing. And, hey--it's Scorsese! --Jim Emerson