Back Home Years Ago: The Real CASINO
This documentary now available on DVD about the real Chicago gangsters involved with the Casinos in Las Vegas plays as a primer for Martin Scorsese's film Casino. The focus is on real life counterparts to the Nicholas Pileggi book "Casino," and film. "The Real Casino" gives you insights to the film's main characters such as Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (the Robert DeNiro character), Tony Spilotro (the Joe Pesci character), Alan Dorfman (the Alan King Character), and several of their pals and relatives who were privy to the way Chicago's "Outfit" operated and gained favor in Las Vegas.
The film first aired on John Pierson's Split Screen on IFC as well as Bravo and PBS. This DVD contains deleted scenes, making of featurette, IFC version, and 14 min. TF version.
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It was as if they were telling us a great truth vegas big shots knew for years "What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas.." In other words, we should be lucky we even got a snippett of what we saw. Oh and one thing that was interesting was that The real Frank Rosenthal was as arrogant and unlikable as he was in the movie played by Dinero./ And I remember Dinero saying he fired his black jack dealer for kissing his wifes hand and saying she looks very beautiful in front of him. Makes me wonder about the basement and hammer part. We will never know,bet on that! And my guess is, if that didnt happen, Lefty probably fired so many hard working people for the stupidest infractions because he was a Hitler according to what 2 people here say about him. Funny 85% of this movie is on heresay about what the neighborhood in Chicago was like where Lefty,Nicky Santoro and the other characters from the movie grew up. Im never renting a 25 min movie again. That right there tells you they had so little real information. This would be good as a bonus if you buy the movie CASINO. Im starting to see Amazon charging some hefty prices for movies. Bet this hits them in the face pretty soon.
This is an inside, impressionistic view of how the 'outfit' really works, and something of an alternative view from the gloss of Hollywood. And at the same time, it presents quite a bit of interesting info. on the real Lefty Rosenthal (DeNiro), Tony Spilotro (Pesci) and others. THE REAL CASINO lends a touch of tangability to CASINO that wasn't present for me the first time around. In many ways, getting to know what the reality behind the story is more frightening than either of Scorsese's mob movies (Casino and GoodFellas.)
In CASINO, the names and players in Scorsese's movie were all changed, but Alexandre sheds light on who the contributing players actually were. The Real Casino unfolds from Alexandre's point of view as he wanders Chicago interviewing relatives and listening to first hand accounts. Alexandre's first person perspective lends a Michael Moore feel without the hamperings of Michael Moore's self-indulgence, and in the end Alexandre's discoveries become our own. To drive home the correlations between fact and fiction, Alenandre was able to get the rights to footage from not only CASINO, but from other high profile crime movies including GOODFELLAS and Michael Mann's THIEF. Often, the stories being told don't exactly match there portrayal and it's interesting to note just how much was embellished or changed for the big screen. Along these lines, the most interesting and challenging aspect of the film is the investigation into how 'we' as an audience perceive the 'mob genre' film. Interviewing members of the film crew getting their reaction to the reality of the interviews, contrasts the sort of glossier embellishments of the genre. At times the filmmaker seems to having some fun with the 'made up' stuff as evidenced by the recreated 'pen scene' in Casino. We know Tony Spilotro (Pesci) didn't actually stab someone in the neck w/ a pen. The film's goal isn't to necessarily give you all the facts found in Pileggi's book, but to paint an interesting version of what the players were like, and mob reality vs. mob reelity if you will.
Also, the latter section about the 'life' and 'street tax' aren't wiseguy tactics usually covered in other docs. They don't usually use tactics like that in Tumbleweed, TX or Green Bay hey:) It also goes into the tension in Italian neighborhoods when it comes to La Cosa Nostra. It's one of the first documentaries I've seen that has dealt w/ this pushback against the mob. Yes, they served a purpose, but they were not only feared but sometimes despised 'back home'. Also, some of the personality quirks and first hand accounts of people who really grew up w/ those in question were mesmerizing. In one of the first hand accounts, one of the guys who grew up around Alan Dorfman (Alan King) and had lunch w/ he and his son just a few days before he was 'clipped' outside a hotel in Lincolnwood, IL. These are the kind of things I want in a doc like this, not a bunch of dates and so forth. Unfortunately, there's always going to be some knuckleheads who don't 'get' the value of a film like this. It's the exact same reason Martin Scorsese's early films like Mean Streets, Raging Bull, and even GoodFellas to a lesser extent, never found a wider audience. Simply, because most folks in middle America just don't have a feel for this kind of urban material. But thank god we have smaller docs like this, it goes so much deeper than the usual A&E or CNBC stuff. This is real film-making.