Movies are a great way of telling stories, and understanding the history behind important events. It’s fair to say that casinos and Las Vegas are a huge part of the history of the United States, and that’s why there are a lot of films made about them. In fact, some of the best films ever made are gangster movies, and you definitely need to check some of these out.
Some of the best gangster films are based on the lives of casino mobsters. These often give an unflinching look at what Vegas was like under mob rule. They are often brutal and violent movies, showing a realistic side of the gangster/casino world. Here are a few of the best movies based on casino mobsters.
Perhaps the most famous movie based on the life of a casino mobster is Martin Scorsese’s 1995 violent mob masterpiece Casino. Starring Robert De Niro as Sam Rothstein. The movie is based loosely on the life of Frank Rosenthal, who ran Vegas casinos including Hacienda and Stardust. Joe Pesci plays a character based on mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro. The movie received huge critical acclaim, and was a box office success, even resulting in a Golden Globe Award for Sharon Stone.
Another well-known movie about casino mobsters is the 1990 biopic Bugsy about the life and death of Bugsy Siegel. Warren Beatty plays Siegel, the man largely credited with beginning the mob involvement in Vegas. Siegel had big plans and ambitions, but they wound up getting the better of him, and he started to skim off the top. This led to his eventual assassination and increased Vegas mob activity. The film was critically acclaimed and serves as both an appraisal and a cautionary tale.
You may even have seen the more recent movie Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling. It also stars Sean Penn as legendary mob gangster Mickey Cohen. While the film focuses mainly on Cohen’s criminal activity as a whole, he was still a big player in the mob days of Las Vegas. In fact, he was known for working under Siegel and helping set up The Flamingo. The movie shows the formation of a gangster squad, set up by the police in order to bring down mobsters, including Cohen. Though the movie only touches upon his gambling affairs, it’s still worth seeing as a glimpse of the story of Mickey Cohen.