Casino – 10th Anniversary Edition (1995)

by | Jan 18, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Casino – 10th Anniversary Edition (1995)

Starring:  Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci
Studio:  Universal
Video:  2.35:1 Widescreen Enhanced for 16:9
Audio:  English 5.1, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1
Extras:  Audio Commentary with Martin Scorsese, Sharon Stone, Nicholas Pileggi and More; Casino: The Story (8 min); Casino: The Cast and Characters (20 min); Casino: The Look (16 min); Casino: After The Filming (9 min); Deleted Scenes (4- 3 min); Vegas and the Mob (14 min); History Alive: True Crime Authors: Casino With Nicholas Pileggi (43 min); Production Notes.
Length:  179 minutes
Rating:  ****

It had been a while since I had viewed Casino and one of the first thoughts that entered my mind was “Does it really have to be so long?”  Well, after a critical viewing, I can’t imagine altering the film in any way.  Those who have come to expect certain elements to be present in a Scorsese gangster film like Mean Streets and Goodfellas will not be disappointed.  Although De Niro and Pesci work their usual magic, it is Sharon Stone who manages to steal the show.  Her performance, combined with the sets, the direction, the acting, the writing, the editing, and so on and so forth put this film in my Scorsese Top 5 list.  Even smaller parts like that played by James Woods, Frank Vincent, and Don Rickles add to the solidity of the structure of the film.

Author Nicholas Pileggi became fascinated with beginnings of Las Vegas casinos in the early 70s after witnessing public trials of mobsters on television.  Getting information about the main character the story is based upon was difficult until the idea that a film would be made and De Niro would portray the Rothstein character—the man put in charge of The Tangiers casino in Vegas.  Pesci plays a somewhat crazy up-and-comer (Nicky Santoro) who sees the money being made in the city of sin and jumps on the bandwagon.  He soon gets out of control and proves to be a thorn in Rothstein’s side.  But Rothstein’s fatal flaw comes when he falls for Ginger and though he knows she does not love him, makes her his wife.  This is the essence of the formula for the film—the idea that everything should have been perfect, yet one mistake (and lots of greed) managed to unhinge the entire plan.

The film can become an emotional tennis match (and very violent) in parts–especially at the times when Ginger’s character phones or meets with her ex- (or not so ex-) boyfriend Lester.  But the scene that is truly painful to watch comes near the end of the film when Nicky goes too far and has to be handled.

The extras on the second side of the DVD like “Vegas and the Mob” are not only interesting but are very informative.  The “True Crime” segment was shown on the History Channel and is nearly three quarters of an hour of background about the film.  Casino is an excellent work, and if the bits of violence and heavy drama don’t deter the viewer, then it is sure to be a big winner.

– Brian Bloom

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