DVD Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Nick Jones

Read Nick Jones's film review of Casino

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Casino has been re-released as a double disc special edition. Like a Las Vegas fruit machine, it glimmers and flashes with enough features to whet the appetite of any self-respecting Scorsese addict.

One of the best features here is the commentary. Eschewing the now standard approach of sticking a microphone in front of the director and writer, instead we get input from Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi, Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and many big names involved in the film's construction. Thanks to verbal introductions from a voiceover, we always know who is talking. Unsurprisingly, with a film as rich as Casino (pardon the pun), such anecdotal musings and technological insights never get boring.

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A particularly amusing fact that we learn is that the legendary Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, on whom Casino is based, would not speak to Pileggi when approached about having his life depicted in a book. He wasn't impressed that Pileggi was a big name author and didn't feel he needed his ego stroked in that way. However, as soon as he found out that there would also be a film and that Robert De Niro would play him, he changed his tune. "Will I get to meet him?" was his only question.

A pleasant inclusion on the bonus disc is the documentaries, two of which detail the history of Las Vegas, from its early years of mob ownership through to the current day. Interviews with the real Frank Rosenthal and footage of the late Tony Spilatro (portrayed in the film by Joe Pesci) are almost as enjoyable as the film itself.

With any Scorsese DVD, you want oodles of technical explanations. With every camera angle and montage, you want to know why and how he did it. Casino delivers on this front, too. Among the various documentaries is Casino - After Filming, which explains how Scorsese, with the help of Schoonmaker, put together a film which seems shorter than it really is, because of the fast pace and tight edits. Schoonmaker is always Scorsese's first choice for editing and their relationship is discussed here as well.

Pileggi is omnipresent on every documentary available on the second disc, which isn't a bad thing. DVDs cannot be criticised for excesses of passionate input from their makers. It is only when there is a lack of it that we moan. Casino is a big, big film and thankfully this edition's features cover the film's production, so every Scorsese nut will be happy. There are even a couple of memorable outtakes, the funniest of which features Scorsese's mother who plays a small role. She reprimands him for swearing on set, proving that even the world's greatest living film director gets an ear-bashing from the most important woman in his life. A wonderful leveller, which is worth the price of the DVD alone.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2005
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The rise and fall of a Las Vegas casino-running mobster.
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Product Code: 8234271

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Moments with Martin Scorsese (audio commentary); Casino: The Story; Casino: The Cast and Characters; Casino: The Look; Casino: After The Filming; deleted scenes; Vegas and the Mob; History Alive: True Crime Authors.

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