Casino (1995 film)  

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Casino is a 1995 American epic crime film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Barbara De Fina and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the nonfiction book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Scorsese. It stars Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, Don Rickles, Kevin Pollak and James Woods. The film marks the eighth collaboration between director Scorsese and De Niro.

Casino follows Sam "Ace" Rothstein (De Niro), a Jewish American gambling expert handicapper who is asked by the Chicago Outfit to oversee the day-to-day casino and hotel operations at the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. Supporting characters include Nicky Santoro (Pesci), a "made man" and friend of Ace, and Ginger McKenna (Stone), a streetwise chip hustler whom Ace marries and has a daughter with. The film details Ace's operation of the casino, the difficulties he confronts in his job, the Mafia's involvement with the casino, and the gradual breakdown of his relationships and standing, as Las Vegas changes over the years.

The primary characters are based on real people: Ace is inspired by the life of Frank Rosenthal, also known as "Lefty," who ran the Stardust, Fremont, Marina, and Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago Outfit from the early 1970s until 1981. Nicky and Ginger are based on mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro and former dancer and socialite Geri McGee, respectively.

Casino was released on November 22, 1995, to mostly positive critical reception, and was a worldwide box office success. Stone's performance was singled out for acclaim, earning her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Plot

In 1973, sports handicapper and Mafia associate Sam "Ace" Rothstein is sent by the Chicago Outfit to Las Vegas, Nevada to run the Teamsters-funded Tangiers Casino, while Philip Green serves as the mob's hotel CEO front man. Sam doubles the casino's profits, which are skimmed by the mafia before taxes are paid. Mafia boss Remo Gaggi sends Sam's childhood friend and mob enforcer Nicholas "Nicky" Santoro, Nicky's younger brother Dominick, and Nicky's childhood friend Frank Marino to protect Sam and the skimming operation. Nicky's volatile temper and Chicago criminal background eventually get him placed into the Nevada Black Book, banning Nicky from every casino in Nevada. Dominick and Marino gather their own experienced mob crew and often engage in non-sanctioned shakedowns and elaborate burglaries instead.

Sam meets and soon falls in love with a beautiful hustler, dancer, and former prostitute Ginger McKenna. They soon have a daughter and marry, but their marriage is quickly thrown into turmoil due to Ginger's relationship with her former boyfriend, con artist-turned pimp Lester Diamond. Sam has Nicky and his crew beat Lester when they catch him conning Ginger out of $25,000. Ginger turns to alcohol and develops an increasingly problematic drug addiction.

In 1976, Sam fires slot manager Don Ward for incompetence. When Don's brother-in-law, Clark County Commission chairman Pat Webb, fails to convince Sam to rehire Don, Pat arranges for Sam's gaming license to be denied, jeopardizing his position. Sam blames Nicky's recklessness for ongoing police and Nevada Gaming Board pressure, and the two argue furiously in the Mojave desert when Sam attempts to convince Nicky to leave Las Vegas. Sam starts hosting a local television talk show, and both Nicky and the Chicago bosses become upset with Sam making himself such a public figure and bringing unwanted attention to their operations.

When the casino counters begin stealing some of the profits for themselves, the Midwest Mafia bosses put incompetent Kansas City underboss Artie Piscano in charge of overseeing all cash transactions. Artie writes everything he knows about Las Vegas and the skimming operation in a private notebook, and rants about the cash costs in his grocery store. The FBI, having already wired Artie's store regarding a separate crime, are spurred into investigating Sam's casino.

Sam seeks to divorce Ginger, who then kidnaps their daughter, Amy, planning to flee to Europe with Lester. Sam convinces Ginger to come back with Amy but overhears her talking on the phone about killing him. Sam kicks her out of their home but later lets her back in. Ginger approaches Nicky to get her valuables from Sam's safe deposit box, and the two start an affair. Sam eventually finds out, and confronts and disowns Ginger, and ends his friendship with Nicky. Nicky finishes with Ginger when she demands he kill Sam. He throws her out instead. Drunk and furious, Ginger crashes her car into Sam's in the driveway and retrieves the key to their deposit box. Although she succeeds in taking some of the contents, the FBI arrests her as a witness.

In 1979, the FBI closes the casino and Green eventually cooperates with the authorities. Piscano dies of a heart attack when federal agents discover his notebook while executing a search warrant on his home. The FBI approaches Sam for help by showing him photos of Nicky and Ginger together, but he turns them down. The bosses are arrested and put on trial, and start to arrange the murders of anyone who might testify against them and prolong their subsequent sentences. Ginger dies of a drug overdose, and Sam barely escapes death by a car bomb, suspecting Nicky to be the culprit. Before Sam can take revenge, however, the bosses, having grown tired of Nicky's ongoing legal issues and angered by his apparent unauthorized attempt on Sam's life, order Marino and his own crew to ambush Nicky and Dominick in exchange for clemency. After being taken to an Indiana cornfield under the impression that they are attending a meetup, the two brothers are brutally beaten with baseball bats and buried alive in a shallow grave.

With the mob now out of licensing fronts, the casinos are purchased by big corporations and demolished to make way for new and larger hotel-casino attractions, which Sam laments. He retires to San Diego, and lives as a sports handicapper, in his own words, ending up "right back where I started".

Cast

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