Casino (10/4/12)

CasinoMovie Two Hundred Twenty One

Casino is based on true mob dealings in the 1970s Las Vegas scene.

Several midwestern mafia families decide to use Las Vegas gambling to their own advantage and leverage Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) to run the Tangiers casino. The bosses also send out Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) to have one of their own in Vegas. Ace runs into hustler Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) and tries to lure her into a luxurious life away from her sleazy boyfriend, Lester (James Woods). As business is booming, profits are skimmed off the top and sent to the bosses but this eventually catches up to them and threatens their entire Vegas mob empire.

Casino is the longest movie I have watched to date (this year) at 178 minutes and as such, I feel like any abbreviation of the plot is a complete disservice to such a magnificent film. While I have long praised Goodfellas as my favorite movie of all time, I think Casino may be Scorsese’s most well-crafted film. Even in spite of its length the plot never veers away from being interesting or compelling and the story Casino weaves is mesmerizing. Goodfellas is still my favorite film (both of all-time and of Scorsese’s catalog), but Casino is truly a masterpiece.

Society’s inherent interest in the mafia plays such a strong role in cinema and oftentimes that love is masked behind fear. I’ve always wondered just how closely some of these shows and films capture the American mafia scene but I really think that Casino is probably one of the most realistic interpretations, largely in part to the actual events that it is based on. Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotoro, the real-life counterparts of Casino’s Rothstein and Santoro, have an interesting story even without it being fictionalized and sensationalized. I’m sure some liberties were taken other than changing the casino’s name, and Ginger’s character seems largely fictional to me, but arguably the most interesting parts of the framework come from reality and to me, that makes Casino interesting by default.

The only things that could possibly detract from Casino for some viewers are the length, the violence, and the language – Casino is a movie with the fifth most frequent uses of the f-word. If you are able to look past those things, Casino is one of the greatest films ever made. I would be hard-pressed to defend my favorite, Goodfellas, against it.

I give it 5 Tangiers casinos out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


38 responses to “Casino (10/4/12)

  1. For some reason I’ve never seen this, despite that Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors. I really don’t have any good excuse for it but if it’s as almost as good as GoodFellas than it’s got to be a masterpiece. Nice review.

  2. A lot of people hate on this because it’s like Goodfellas in style and story-telling but seriously, what’s so wrong with that? It’s fun, fast-paced, filled with energy, and always keeps your eye on the screen. Great flick and one of Scorsese’s best. Good review Andy.

    • Yeah, the characters may seem like we’ve seen them a dozen times before at a surface level but they are really interesting and given the plot and runtime of the film, they are all able to develop uniquely. Love it.

  3. While my love of Goodfellas is well known, I’ve never been able to get into this one. I guess it’s because the characters are more likeable in Goodfellas.
    One of producers spoke to my class in college and hinted that Marty wasn’t thrilled with how it turned out by saying “When you’re trying to save it with the soundtrack, you know you’re grasping at straws”. The room gasped.

    • Wow, I think the film has stood the test of time better than being a good soundtrack (the soundtrack is amazing, though). The characters are definitely more likeable in Goodfellas, but I like the darker themes going on in Casino too. Still, I’d pick Goodfellas over this one almost every time.

  4. I love both “Goodfellas” and “Casino”, but have watched “Casino” more often. There is something about the glitz that I love re-watching; and the scene where De Niro is in his office with his suit top on but no pants.

    • Haha that scene is great. There is something magical about Vegas itself in Casino that Goodfellas just doesn’t have

  5. I have not seen this…sad, I know. I would really like to watch it right now as I’m sitting in a silent library at school while my stomach makes the weirdest sounds. It’s quite awkward.

  6. Good write-up Andy and high praise indeed. I loved Casino but it’s been a while. I remember thinking it was just Goodfellas set in a casino and shared too many similarities. (not such a bad thing though). The one thing I would have changed – despite Pesci being very good – is I’d have cast someone else in the role. He was basically playing Tommy DeVito all over again. Harvey Keitel is always someone I’d have loved to have seen do it, just to add a little something different.

    • I kind of felt the same way about him this time around, but that’s not to say I would change the role, I just think Pesci is always Pesci

  7. This is a great movie, and like you, Goodfellas is one of my all-time favorite movies. Don’t even know how many times I’ve seen it!!

  8. a few of my friends, including my brother, and i have been in a constant debate over which is a better movie – casino to good fellas. i go with good fellas.

  9. LOVE, love, love this movie and Vegas. I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to go back into time during the early years of Vegas. That time period was so….fancy, kinda like Mad Men style, but amped up by a 1,000. And don’t get me started on the music.

    • I kind of wish there were more tv shows/movies from this time period in Vegas. Since almost all of the old casinos are gone it would be nice to have them live on, even if fictionally. My wife and I were just in Vegas like 2 years ago and the Sahara is one of the few old casinos left, and it’s so weird compared to the other, more modern casinos but that charm is lost in so many of the newer ones.

  10. Great review! Casino is my favorite Scorsese film and Sharon Stone was just mesmerizing in it. Joe Pesci was terrific too, I actually like his work here much more than in Goodfellas.

  11. Pingback: My October Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  12. Pingback: Cinephile Interview II: Andy Watches Movies | Cinemaniac Reviews

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