Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Casino - The Story

Nicholas Pileggi, author of "Wiseguy" got the chance to write a book about the Mob in Las Vegas, after meeting the real life "Sam Rothstein" Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, and getting the full story from the horse`s mouth.  Pileggi wrote the screenplay with Director Martin Scorcese first, then wrote the book "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas".  This book is a little difficult to obtain in this country, I know, I`ve tried, though I did manage to get a copy, eventually, through the library.  So how close to the truth is it?  So much is fiction, but some events from the past are brought into it, and a good number of events did happen.

    Rosenthal was a stickler for detail, and lived and breathed gambling, as portrayed by De Niro, but this attention to detail led to big problems with the Gaming Commission.  He did fire an incompetent manager, who was a close buddy of Commission member Pete Escheverrier(Hope I spelt it right) and he tried to get him a job back at the Casino but Rosenthal would not budge.  The Commission started looking at his Gaming Application, and Rosenthal did have gambling convictions, plus , he was known to be close to the Outfit - the Chicago Mob).  He did marry a much younger woman, Geri, who eventually did have a fling with Chicago`s muscleman in Vegas, Tony Spilotro.  He did survive a car bomb, he did have a TV show broadcast from the Casino.  The Tangiers was in fact The Stardust.  After leaving Vegas, he did go down to Baton Rouge, and worked down there, until his death, about two years ago.

    Tony Spilotro (Nicky Santoro) was a short but extremely violent man from Chicago, was initiated into the Outfit, knew Rosenthal for many years, and went out to Vegas to oversee the skim from the Stardust, but what followed, destroyed the Mob in Vegas forever.  The scene of torture of the guy who shot up a bar was real, but happened way back in the early sixties.  Two men were found dead in the trunk of a car, throats cut, and one had had his head put into a vice.  It was generally thought that the two had decided not to pay the "street tax" - a cut of their booty that should be given to the mob.  He was thought to have been responsible for numerous murders, he did have a jewelry store where he and his crew operated from, and did have fall outs with Rosenthal.  He wanted to set up his own "family" in Vegas, as in the film he was referred to as the "Unofficial crime boss of Vegas" but eventually they all tumbled.  Spilotro, along with his brother Michael were beaten to death, not in a field but apparently in a basement.  They were buried in a field.  Spilotro was thought to have murdered his former boss, Sam Giancana, in his home in the mid 70`s.

    Rosenthals` wife Geri, was as portrayed by Sharon Stone, she loved money, loved the glamour, hit the booze, but later had a relationship with Spilotro.  Spilotro never found out that Rosenthal had discovered the affair.  Rosenthal repeatedly implored his wife not to say anything to Spilotro, as he would have killed them both.  Rosenthal had a reason to go to Chicago and complain about Spilotro, as this would not have gone down well with the bosses, but did not want trouble.  Geri, despite her out of control drinking and drug taking, kept quiet.  She left Rosenthal, did the rounds of various men, drug users, boozers and died.  Pileggi believed that Rosenthal still loved his wife, the Geri he married, not the Geri she became.  With various bosses from Chicago, Kansas City, all fell in court, and the Mob lost it`s grip in Vegas.