The attractions make big boasts that their modest contents don’t
While it isn’t necessarily a sequel to Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese’s Casino is definitely a not-so-distant cousin of the 1991 gangster film. With Joe Pesci doing essentially the same thing here, as a violent gangster with the shortest fuse ever, and Robert De Niro back and in charge of narration, the vibrant and epic story from Scorsese delves deep into organized crime and its influences in Las Vegas.
Here are a dozen things about Casino you may not have known…
1. While the movie begins by stating it is based upon a true story, it never names the actual casino involved. The Tangiers casino is fictional. The story is actually based upon the history of the Stardust casino, a fact well documented in the Vegas history books. Martin Scorsese discreetly documents this fact via the soundtrack, in which the song “Stardust” is heard three different times.
2. Martin Scorsese hired actual parolees from that era as plot consultants, as well as various F.B.I. agents who had busted same parolees.
3. Sharon Stone spent many long workdays in agony while filming scenes for this film. She has back trouble due to an old injury, and the gold & white beaded gown she wears during a casino scene weighed 45 pounds.
4. Martin Scorsese stated before the film’s release that he created the “head in the vise” scene as a sacrifice, certain the MPAA would insist it be cut. He hoped this would draw fire away from other violent scenes that would seem less so by comparison. When the MPAA made no objection to the vise scene, he left it in, albeit slightly edited.
5. The costume budget for the film was $1 million. Robert de Niro had 70 different costumes throughout the film, Sharon Stone had 40. Both actors were allowed to keep their costumes afterwards.
6. To avoid the continuity problems that accompany a chain-smoking movie character, Robert De Niro always held his cigarettes the same distance from the lit end so that their lengths never appear to change.
7. 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.”
8. Most of James Woods’s lines were improvised. Including the phone call with Ginger after her wedding. Originally, Woods was not supposed to speak during that scene. Woods came up with idea that Lester would be with a prostitute and doing cocaine while on the phone with Ginger.
9. In the scene where Joe Pesci comes over to Ace Rothstien’s house to talk to the banker, there is a photo on the counter, where Robert De Niro is standing. That is an actual photo of Lefty Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro, which are the real guys DeNiro and Pesci are portraying.
10. According to Alan King, Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal, upon whom the Robert De Niro character was based, wanted Richard Widmark to play the lead in the film. However, Widmark was 80 years old by that time, and, therefore, not a practical choice.
11. The two deputies that come to Sam’s house when Ginger rams his car are real Las Vegas deputies. They were working security on the movie set. One of them (Randy Sutton), was featured on Cops.
12. One of Las Vegas’s most flamboyant casino operators, Bob Stupak, was originally cast to have a non-speaking role as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. However, when he demanded that he have some lines, he was quickly replaced.