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George At 

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Las Vegas mob stories don't get any more captivating and powerful than Martin Scorsese's 1995 hit CASINO.

Robert De Niro stars as Sam "Ace" Rothstein, the mob's top man in 1973 Las Vegas. Overseeing billions of dollars, Sam is a smooth operator and everyone involved in the business has a winning hand under his watch.

When the wise buy bosses back East decide to add Sam's childhood friend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) into the mix, things seem to get even better. At first.

It's classic good cop/bad cop with De Niro's Sam the intense and professional leader and Pesci's Nicky the volatile hot head with a fast temper and a penchant for blind loyalty.

When a beautiful woman named Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) enters the picture, the boy's balance spins out of control and the power & money begins to shift wildly as well.

The screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese is based on Pileggi's book detailing his real life experiences in the Vegas mob.

In Scorsese's hands, the film feels real to its core and gets the early seventies Vegas setting exactly right down to the last wide lapel and shag rug.

De Niro and Pesci are both terrific. Sharon Stone has the performance of her career as Ginger, who upsets the apple & the cocaine cart with equal abandon. Her Ginger is sad, sexy and dangerous.

Supporting players are superb, with Don Rickles perhaps the biggest surprise as Sam's right hand man and Casino pit boss Billy Sherbert. Rickles isn't good, he's GREAT, showing strong dramatic chops.

Comedian Alan King is also very good in bad guy role and James Woods is reliably oily.

This was director of photography Robert Richardson's first film with Scorsese and its a brilliant match. Richardson (JFK, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill) moves his camera almost constantly, becoming a character unto himself as he weaves his way through the casino and the lives of our players on the floor and behind the scenes.

Scorsese is a master. I defy you to not get sucked into this three hour character study that feels like less than two hours. He tips his hat on the end of the story in its brilliant opening scene and then drives you through all the backstory with momentum and speed.

This was De Niro in his prime, before he started taking lesser films and comedies for paychecks. He's made many great films and this is one of them.

Vegas has rarely been more seductive than it is here.

When it comes to Scorsese, De Niro and CASINO, bet the house. Loaded with aces, it gets an A+ and a coveted spot in my all-time Top 100 films.

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