When Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro) moves to Las Vegas and establishes one of the most successful casinos in Sin City, best friend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) wants in. Before he’s able to say no, Sam soon finds Nicky causing all kinds of trouble for him, but it doesn’t bother him that much as he has call-girl Ginger (Sharon Stone) to keep him occupied. For a while, everything is peachy, but cracks soon begin to show in the foundations the empire has been built on. Sam and Ginger’s marriage is not the picture of happiness it was intially, and Nicky is getting into a different jackpot bringing the heat down not only on him, but on Sam as well.
Known as ‘Goodfellas gone to Vegas’, after watching the aforementioned title, I felt hugely compelled to watch Casino. And I’m very glad I did. Like Goodfellas, it is an account of something that actually happened and is also massively entertaining. I must admit that I’m quite liking !artin Scorsese’s takes on gangster films after also watching The Departed – they are something that he directs very well, and he knows who to put in the roles as well.
Let’s start off by talking about De Niro’s performance as Sam Rothstein. Like he is in many of the films he is in, De Niro was fabulous as the hardened businessman. Yes, he was a gangster, but at the same time he wanted to remain legit and have an easy-ish life with a beautiful wife, nice house and a family. His character was very similar to his role of James Conway in Goodfellas with regards to the fact that he was purely about staying clean and not getting caught on the wrong side of the law, so given that he nailed it first time round, with a bit more practice, De Niro was bound to be onto perfection. Guess what? He was.
Then I had my second dose of Joe Pesci for the week. Like De Niro, Pesci’s character was also very similar to the role he played in Goodfellas, and he also nailed it for a second time. Whilst watching Pesci in both films, I couldn’t help but find myself likening him to a little terrier always snapping at the heels of bigger dogs. He was brilliant! It never once mattered how big a man might have been, Nicky would take them on and win. And there was, of course, that same unpredictable nature that meant he could decide to kill someone in an instant for the tiniest of reasons. Just brilliant!
Finally, there was the trophy wife, Ginger. Stone was magnificent as the call-girl turned gangster’s moll. Ginger was a very beautiful woman who would look good on Sam’s arm, but also charm everyone in the room at the same time. Or that was how it was in the beginning, at least. Throughout the course of the film Ginger went on real downward spiral as all the dodgy dealings and troubles surrounding the business took their toll on her. There was also her leech of an ex-boyfriend to be dealing with as well, and, my word, didn’t he cause some problems for everyone. Stone earned herself an Oscar nomination for her role, and I think the essence of what I’m trying to say is that it was very well deserved.
This wonderful account of what is actually the history of the Stardust casino is something that viewing of is essential. Scorsese has done a marvellous job yet again and I now order you to stop reading this and settle down for three hours with Casino playing in front of you.