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15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Casino

15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Casino

15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Casino
22 July 2014

The house always wins, there are no clocks anywhere to be seen and it's almost impossible to find your way out - there are some facts we all know about casinos. Here, however, we present 15 facts about Martin Scorsese's brilliant and brutal 1995 movie Casino that you (probably) don't know. Bury yourself.


(Images: Rex & YouTube unless stated)


The movie is based on the career of casino boss Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal as portrayed by Robert De Niro's character Sam "Ace" Rothstein. Joe Pesci's character, Nicky Santoro, was based on Lefty's real-life gangster pal Tony Spilotro,

In this scene, where Nicky visits Ace's house to talk to a banker, there's a photo on the counter (pictured). That is an actual photo of Lefty Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro.


The infamous "head in a vice" scene is taken from an anecdote in the book Casino unrelated to the main story, describing mob enforcer Tony Spilotro's interrogation of a low-level gangster. Director Martin Scorsese said he created the scene as a sacrifice, certain the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) would insist it be cut. He hoped it would draw fire away from other violent scenes that would seem less violent by comparison. The MPAA made no objection and it stayed in. However, Casino is the last theatrical movie to be censored by Swedish authorities. It was indeed the "head in the vice" scene that was cut out.


Cinemas (or exhibitors) aren't so keen on long movies because it means they can't show the movie as often in a day as shorter movies, i.e less takings at the box office. Martin Scorsese knew that the studio did not want the film to be a 3 hour movie but sort of ignored them (the running time is 178 minutes). He describes what he made as a "fast three hours" movie.


Originally Scorsese was going to open the movie with the same music he used at the end (The Animals, House Of The Rising Sun). However when the title sequence was made with the explosion, Scorsese decided to blast out Bach instead. At the bottom of this pic you can see how a stunt man was used to provide the tumbling De Niro, pictured at the top.


Among many Las Vegas regulars, comedy headliners Alan King, Don Rickles, and Dick Smothers all appear in major, non-comedic roles. King plays Andy Stone the head of the Teamsters, Rickles is the casino manager Billy Sherbert (pictured) and Smothers is the Senator.


The fictional name for Ace's casino is The Tangiers, but the story is based upon the history of the Stardust. There's a nod to this in the form of three separate playings of the song "Stardust" throughout the movie. The modern day casino used as a filming location for internal scenes was The Riviera. Shooting was limited to between 1am and 4am so as not to get in the way of the real gamblers. However, that didn't prevent The Riviera from luring more punters in during filming with a huge banner that read, "Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci Filming the New Movie 'Casino' Inside!"


The parking foyer scenes, however, were shot in front of the Landmark Hotel. The Landmark also featured in Diamonds Are Forever, The Cooler and Viva Las Vegas. It was demolished in 1995 (see it come down here) and the footage was used in the destruction of Las Vegas scene in the movie Mars Attacks! (jump to one minute 5 seconds).

(Image: Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0)


In Raging Bull De Niro throws Pesci through a glass door and gives him a few stomps for good measure. You can see the NSFW scene here. Pesci later told The New York Times that De Niro actually broke a rib of his when shooting the scene. Amazingly, Pesci broke the exact same rib during the filming of Casino when he was bundled into the cornfield hole with his dead brother in this harrowing and very NSFW scene.


The real-life Santoro brothers, Anthony and Michael Spilotro, weren't killed in the Las Vegas desert but in an Illinois basement, where they'd gone believing Michael was going to be inducted into the Mafia. This is the same way Joe Pesci's character is killed in Goodfellas.


Amber Smith, Nicole Kidman, Melanie Griffith, Rene Russo, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Traci Lords and Madonna were all considered for the role of Ginger, but Sharon Stone convinced director Martin Scorsese to give her the part. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.


Sharon Stone auditioned for the part of Jake La Motta's wife Vickie La Motta in Raging Bull but didn’t get it. It was 15 years later, of course, she played De Niro's wife in Casino.


When James Woods heard that Martin Scorsese was interested in working with him, Woods called Scorsese's office and left the following message: "Any time, any place, any part, any fee."


The costume budget for the film was $1 million, with all parts needing clothing at a cost of between $150 and $200 each. 'Robert de Niro' had 70 different costumes throughout shooting (all made from scratch) while Sharon Stone had 30 (vintage and bespoke). Both actors were allowed to keep their costumes afterwards.

(Image: Ibraheem Youssef)


There were more than 7,000 extras used in the film - from strippers to bellboys - as well as a colossal 120 speaking parts.


This is what the movie's poster concept art looked like. The tagline reads: "There was a time on the Strip when Murder settled bets, blackmail evened the odds and Revenge was the payout. This is the story of the good old days."