There have been plenty of movies that show different aspects of the world of casinos, but perhaps none so vividly as the movie Casino, released in 1995 and starring Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. When you’ve watched this, you’ll probably be glad you can sit at home and play casino games rather than having to go to Vegas to do it!
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Casino is a movie that mixes the glamorous front of the casino lifestyle along with its very sleazy underside. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this epic runs for 178 minutes (many of them make you feel uncomfortable and like you’ll need a shower after you’ve watched this seedy tale). The story is based on the life story of Frank Rosenthal, who ran three casinos in Vegas for the Chicago Outfit through the 1970s and early 80s. Rosenthal’s character is Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein in the film (played by de Niro) and the other main characters are Nicky Santoro (played by Joe Pesci) and Ace’s girlfriend Ginger (played by Sharon Stone). Nicky Santoro character is modelled on the real-life mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro.
Ace is running the fictional Tangiers casino on behalf of the Chicago mobsters, and Santoro is sent to make sure that all the casino profits go back to the mob without anything being skimmed off first. It’s also his job to keep the Vegas mobsters in their place. Ginger is a former prostitute and drug-addict who Ace falls for and eventually marries.
It’s a class act by all three actors and director Scorsese with a heady mix of gritty realism and glamor. The film is so long that you begin to feel you’re actually there with all the main characters trapped in the same existence as them, and it’s with a sense of relief that you greet the credits at the end of the movie! Although it’s a long watch, there are plenty of lighter moments in the film, so don’t be put off by the length of the movie. This was Scorsese and De Niro’s eighth collaboration and proved yet again what a successful movie making team they make.