Casino (1995) is one of those films that you’ve seen or you’re going to see. It is a masterpiece that nobody, not even the great Quentin Tarantino could produce. Martin Scorsese understands the nitty gritty underworld of gangsters, casinos and mobsters unlike any other director. He is, ultimately, the undesputed kind of  neo-noir, violent dramas. This truly shines through in Casino.

You might be surprised to know then that Casino has a lot more to it than meets the eye. From broken ribs to a costume budget that reaches into the millions – is going to look at 10 things you probably didn’t know about the film Casino!

Casino is essentially a biopic about Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal.

Robert Di Niro, who plays Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, is based on the real life person Frank Rosenthal.

Casino is based on the career of casino boss Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal, who was a professional sports better,  Las Vegas casino executive and in cahoots with organised criminals. Rosenthal never officially ran any casinos in Vegas. Instead, he took menial positions such as Executive of Beverage & Food or Executive of Carpeting & Cleaning as a guise for his actual position as the boss. This was due to the fact that Rosenthal was associated with organised criminals and as such, would never get a license. When caught without a license he was quickly tried, and unsurprisingly, denied a license.

In the end Rosenthal leaves Vegas after being black booked, his casino empire crumbling before him. The same essentially happens to Ace in the film, with his casinos being knocked down and other, more family friendly casinos are built.

The film also features the Spilotro brothers, with Tony Spilotro (called Nicky Santoro in the film) – the man responsible for skimming casino profits for mob bosses – being played by Joe Pesci. This film is full to the brim with real life counterparts. It’s one of the most obvious, yet unknown  things about casino.

That famous ‘head in a vice’ scene was a red herring

Yeah, he’s not a nice bloke really. He also looks like Danny Devito.

Yeah, we all remember that scene. Nicky has Tony Dogs’ head in a vice after days of torture, and for some reason, Dogs still won’t talk. Nicky, who has simply had enough, squeezes the vice until Dogs’ eye pop out of his skull. Now, this is pretty gristly for any movie, but did you know Scorsese never intended you to see that scene.

Scorsese knew that Casino was bound to be banned in some countries because of, you know, all the violence. It’s a pretty bloody film at times. Well, instead of having to cut out key parts of the movie, he decided to create a red herring, if you will. The ‘head in a vice’ scene was meant to be so outlandish, so violent that it would take precedence at censorship committees. So much so, that everything else in comparison would look feeble. Surprisingly, as you know, the scene actually made it into the final cut. Well, everywhere apart from Sweden, who insisted the scene was removed. Can’t blame them really, it is pretty messed up.

Frank Rosenthal never actually managed The Tangiers

So yeah, The Tangiers isn’t a real casino. It never was. It was completely fictional. Frank Rosenthal managed four real casinos in his tenure, which are:

  • Stardust
  • Fremont
  • Marina
  • Hacienda

The Tangiers was probably used to avoid any direct reference to the real Frank Rosenthal. The Stardust is referenced though, but through the song Stardust by Nat King Cole. It’s nice homage to the real life of Rosenthal.

Joe Pesci broke his rib… again… in Casino

Let’s go back 15 years to Raging Bull which is another Scorsese masterpiece. It’s the famous scene where Jake La Motta (De Niro) has finally lost his patience with Joey (Joe Pesci). In the scene Joey gets a rather brash beating and, in real life, breaks his rib. Well, 15 years later, when Pesci is being bundled into his grave with his dead brother, he breaks the exact same rib. Creepy huh. Below you can find the very NSFW scene, which, if you’re squeamish, don’t watch it.

Oh… and they weren’t killed in the desert either.

The real Spilotro brothers – or Santoro brothers in the film – weren’t killed in the Las Vegas desert. No, they were killed in an Illinois basement, where they had gone believing Michael was going to be inducted into the Mafia. Funnily enough, Joe Pesci’s character is killed in the same way in Goodfellas.

Good choice Scorsese, good choice.

Sharon Stone originally auditioned for Jake La Motta’s wife in Raging Bull 15 years ago…

Sharon Stone auditioned for the part of Jake La Motta’s wife in Raging Bull. It was 15 years later when she would finally get a part next to Di Niro, as Ginger, who was based on Rosenthal’s actual life Geri McGee.

Ginger could have been played by Uma Thurman…

Could you imagine Uma as Ginger? We could… we really could.

Amazingly, Uma Thurman, along with a whole list of a-list actresses such as Amber Smith, Nicole Kidman, Melanie Griffith, Rene Russo, Cameron Diaz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Traci Lords and even… Madonna were all considered for the rile of Ginger. It was, though, Sharon Stone convinced Martin Scorsese to give her the part. In the end, it was a great decision, when her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.

Casino had a costume budget of $1 million!

Di Niro had 70 costumes alone in Casino which were all made from scratch while Sharon Stone had 30 vintage and bespoke dresses crafted just for this film. Overall, with clothing costing between $150 – $200 each, the whole spend for the movie reached a shocking $1 million. That’s nearly as much as the whole budget for Reservoir Dogs!

It also had 7000 extras!

There were even 120 speaking parts available in total – Andy Millman from Extras would have loved it! In total, from casino punters, bellboys and even strippers, 7000 extras were used! Yeah, that’s a lot of extras. It’s nowhere near the 300,000 extras used in the film Gandhi, though.

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about Casino… well 10 things. Drop us a comment if you know something we don’t, or, if you’re so sure, tell us if we’ve got our facts wrong. I bet we haven’t!

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