Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ stands as one of the highlights of not only the nineties’ cinema, but of gangster films in general as well

When Scorsese and De Niro finalized their eighth collaboration back in 1995, Casino was greeted with kind words from the critics, but also attacked for its portrayal of excessive violence, Scorsese’s trademark of sorts aimed at debunking the somewhat romantic myth of idealized gangster high life. The ruthless, unforgiving, bloodthirsty crime milieu was once again perfectly delved into by the great American master who previously delivered thematically similar masterpieces like Goodfellas and Mean Streets. A dark story of crime and excitement was to a great degree based on the life of notorious Chicago gangster Frank Lefty Rosenthal and FBI’s successful dismantlement of casino-based organized crime in the Midwest, and Scorsese’s decision to join forces with his Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi once again proved a real bingo. They co-wrote the script in five months, gathered an impressive cast comprised of De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone, whose role earned her an Oscar nomination, and once again offered the world of cinema another entry of high historic value. Casino is energetic, beautifully paced, boosted with plentiful details that make this dark story somehow seem magic and enchanting, and as such stands as one of the highlights of not only the nineties’ cinema, but of gangster films in general as well.

The art of voice-over narration. Dear every screenwriter/filmmaker, read Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese’s screenplay for Casino [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.

A rare 1995 interview with Martin Scorsese.

Interviews with Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi.

This story has to be on a big canvas. There’s no sense in my getting Bob De Niro and Joe Pesci and making a 90-minute picture about only one aspect of one story out of Vegas for the past 40 years. It has to be set in the context of time and place, it has tobe about America. Otherwise, why make another mob story? I couldn’t care less. —Martin Scorsese

Scene 166–170: Desert Argue. With Scorsese’s own handwritten notes and drawings.

Will McCrabb shared this great photo from the set of Casino: Scorsese is dollied through a SFX fireball while operating the camera. Speechless.

Moments with Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Barbara De Fina, Nicholas Pileggi, Rita Ryack, Frank Vincent, and Sharon Stone. This is not a screen-specific commentary, but seems to be a collection of comments taken from interviews, recorded separately. You will often hear the same remarks included in interviews contained in the other extras. That said, the comments are fascinating, and I especially enjoyed Pileggi’s account of how a newspaper story about a car bomb hooked his interest in this true story originally. Scorsese is as adroit and articulate as always, and interestingly, likens the casino business to the film industry. His discussion of modern day studios’ desire to make bland, inoffensive films which do not take risks at the box office is quite thought provoking. —Casino: Special Edition

Behind Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction and Robert De Niro’s larger-than-life performance lies the very real story of the high-stakes battle between the mob and the law for control of Las Vegas.

As this was to be DP Robert Richardson‘s first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, the director suggested that they both watch a series of movies from Scorsese’s private collection. The director was hoping to convey to his new DP the general “look” he was eager to capture for his movie. Both men viewed, and discussed, T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948) and Slightly Scarlet (1956)—all shot by John Alton. Scorsese felt that Alton’s photographic style in these films epitomized the film noir aura he wanted Richardson to recreate for Casino.


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