Thursday, October 16, 2008

Frank Lefty Rosenthal Dies - of Natural Causes

Lefty Rosenthal's obituary is all over the news today. He achieved national prominence in 1961 when he testified before the Senate, exercising his right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment dozens of times. Most people know him as the Ace Rothstein character played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's great movie Casino.

Sports Illustrated once crowned him the greatest living expert on sports handicapping. But eventually Rosenthal was listed in Nevada's "black book" of unsavory types banned from the state's casinos because of his ties to the Mafia. He ended up in South Florida.

On Graney and the Pig's Blog there's a wonderful report including several photos.

Many of the events portrayed in the movie were %100 true. Rosenthal had a criminal background in Chicago for illegal gambling. He did come west and eventually headed a Las Vegas sportsbook. He married a Sharon Stone-like woman who took his money and died of a drug overdose and he did host a Las Vegas tv talk show. Oscar Goodman (later the mayor of Las Vegas) really was his lawyer. He also really did survive a 1982 assassination attempt by the mafia with a car bomb.

For me, the greatest thing, among many great things in this film, is the performance of Sharon Stone. A couple years earlier she hit the big time with Basic Instincts, but after seeing her in Casino, I knew she was more than just another pretty face.

But, what do you think about that old problem of stereotyping Italian-Americans. I realize Rosenthal / Rothstein is Jewish, but Joe Pesci's character and most of the others are Italian-American. Is there a problem with this? What do you think?


  1. Well most of the Mob families were spesifically Scillian, so a movie based on one of those families, the shoe fits.

    Recently there have been a bunch of mob films about the Irish Mob, most notably "The Departed" where Jack Nickleson plays Frank Costello who is a thinly veiled James "Whitey" Bulger of the Winter Hill Gang from Sommerville and Boston.

    I just watched "You Kill Me" where Sir. Ben Kingsley plays an Alcoholic hit-man from the Polish Mob (His targets are members of the Irish Mob...tho the Irish Boss is played by former Chicago Cop and Itallian-American Dennis Farina)

    And change the spelling slightly and you have all the "Gangsta" movies out there....well you get the picture.

    And Dare I mention the myriad of films involving the Chinese Triads.

    Overall from what I summize organized crime is a racist game where people only like to play with their own, making whatever race that is a fairly big target and because of the exclusive nature of it demands mention.

  2. Off topic, but I wouldn't want you to miss this. Obama just might be your man after all...

  3. Good point, Weer'd. There are lots of different mafia movies nowadays. I saw the great one about the Russian mob, Eastern Exposure, I think it was called. Did you see that fight scene in the Turkish bath?

  4. Eastern Promises. Yeah I bought that DVD the DAY it came out. Frankly I don't think Naomi Watts has been in a bad film. OK i just looked on IMDB...21 Grams, Bable...sorry, I jumped the gun!

    But yeah, Eastern Promises was AMAZING, certainly eclipsed the breathtaking film by the same director "A History of Violence"