Jessica Welman, James Ross and John Cook return for episode three of Cinema Reels Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino is under the microscope. The trio discuss their standout moments, both good and bad, as well as how gambling is portrayed throughout the film.

Starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci, Casino features low-level mobster Sam “Ace” Rothstein who is tapped by bosses to head the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas during the early-1970s.

At first, he’s a great success in the job, however, over the years, problems with his loose-cannon enforcer Nicky Santoro, his ex-hustler wife Ginger, her con-artist ex Lester Diamond and a handful of corrupt politicians put Sam in ever-increasing danger.

In a theme that runs throughout Jess and James find themselves in disagreement with John, who just so happens to be a huge Martin Scorsese fan. Both Jess and James criticise the amount of voiceover used by Scorsese however John thinks they are “so wrong” and it is needed due to the amount of detail in the film.

Jess and James are also not fans of the development of Sharon Stone’s character, Ginger, and the lack of explanation for the decline of her behaviour during the film.

Talk then turns to best and worst performances and Don Rickles gets a shout-out for his portrayal of Mr Sherbert. On the other hand,  all three agree that this wasn’t De Niro’s best work. In Jess’s words he just “stands and watches people for 30 minutes of the movie”. 

The plot and characters in Casino are adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas which was inspired by the life of legendary sports gambler Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.

John’s background research reveals that almost all the events shown in the film happened in real life and regales the others on the most gruesome events of the past, including why a rubber hammer was the weapon of choice when breaking someone’s fingers.

All three also agree that the gambling activity shown on screen was realistic and it makes John hark back to the nostalgia of 1970s Las Vegas casinos. However, Jess suggests that the commercialisation of the current Las Vegas scene may be worth it due to the absence of a threat of violence that was always present back then.

As the episode comes to a close the question is whether John, as the resident Scorsese fan, still loves the film or has he changed his mind based on James and Jess’s criticisms.

Cinema Reels: Casino