• Rod Kackley

"Casino" The 25th Anniversary of a Legendary True Crime Movie

Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” is one of my favorite movies based on a shocking true crime story; I even rank it above everyone’s favorite, “GoodFellas.”

"Casino" celebrated it's 25th anniversary on Nov. 22, 2020.

I’ve seen “Casino” scores of times, so many I don’t even bother to count all the viewings, and I thought I understood the movie as well as anyone.

But here’s an angle I never thought of: “Casino” features a Jewish gangster as a protagonist; Sam “Ace” Rothstein, as portrayed by the legendary actor, Robert De Niro.

Here’s a very interesting take on that, and on the history of Jewish gangsters in true crime history from Stephen Silver, writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

"Rothstein is depicted as a Jewish associate of the Chicago Outfit, an expert bookmaker and sports handicapper who is sent to Vegas to run the Tangiers, one of the largest casinos on the Strip. The character is based on Frank Rosenthal, a real Jewish gambling expert from Chicago who had ties to the Chicago Outfit and eventually headed to Vegas to run casinos for them. 

While the film is somewhat fictionalized, Rosenthal really did pioneer the idea of sports books in casinos, really did survive an assassination attempt by car bomb and really did have his license denied by a state gaming commission, which was led in real life by Harry Reid, before he was a senator.

In the film, the viewer never hears Rothstein himself address his Jewishness or what it means to him, and he appears to lead a largely secular life. The topic is mentioned, however, by Pesci’s character, in a somewhat pejorative way."

Don't believe Mr. Silver? Check out the trailer below:

Click here to read the full article.

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