Among the many films directed by Martin Scorsese, “Casino” is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic. Released in 1995, it crowned the infernal duo Robert De Niro-Joe Pesci, well accompanied by an inhabited Sharon Stone. If the film draws heavily on the real story of Frank Rosenthal, it also sees the life of a notorious criminal played by Pesci: Anthony Spilotro, known as “Tony the ant.”

Scorsese in his universe

After using a book by Nicholas Pileggi to make The Freedmen, Martin Scorsese puts it back five years later. Indeed, Casino seems to replay the same score as his famous film released in 1990. Thus, he collaborates again with Pileggi on the screenplay, finds (for the eighth time) Robert De Niro and again associates him with Joe Pesci. Above all, he once again brings together all these little people in a gangster movie. Nobody knows it at that time, but it is the last time in a good twenty years that he will direct a feature film of this kind.

Casino follows the journey of Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who was parachuted by the Chicago Mafia to Las Vegas to run a submarine-piloted casino. To carry out this business, he is accompanied by his childhood friend and henchman Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). One day, Sam falls head over heels in love with Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), a sublime woman who holds deep secrets. In a universe where money is flowing freely, this big boss of Las Vegas will have to manage several conflicts from outside … But above all from the inside. To note that Casino allowed Sharon Stone to win the Golden Globe for best actress for his masterful performance of Ginger McKenna.

Casino
Casino © Universal Pictures

The story of Tony the Ant

We know that Casino is based on real characters, whose names have been changed. Indeed, Sam Rothstein is actually Frank Rosenthal, a notorious bandit who ran several Las Vegas casinos on behalf of the Chicago Mafia. As in the film, he too was also the victim of a car bomb assassination attempt.

The same goes for Nicky Santoro who is actually Anthony Spilotro. Nicknamed “Tony the Ant” because he soaked his pistol bullets in cyanide, he had been friends with Frank Rosenthal for a long time. So the two worked together at several temples in the game – Spilotro’s job to watch over staff members and protect possible threats. Only like Joe Pesci in Casino, Spilotro was not a man who really played by the rules. Thus, in addition to organizing rigged poker games, the Mafioso formed a burglary team, including his brother Michael. The gang’s activities caught the eye of the authorities, which increasingly pissed off their superiors who prefer discretion. In addition, his relationship with Frank Rosenthal grew increasingly strained.

Anthony Spilotro
Anthony Spilotro

Sudden death … as in the movie

In January 1986, a meeting of most of Chicago’s big bosses ordered the death of Spilotro, which was becoming an increasingly pervasive problem. Thus, Anthony and Michael were summoned to a hunting lodge (without being given the real reason). They were brutally beaten with a baseball bat, and buried alive in a cornfield. Therefore, the execution scene suffered by Nicky Santoro in Casino really existed.

Casino
Casino © Universal Pictures

According to a testimony, when Anthony Spilotro realized that his time had come, he started to pray.



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