The 25 Greatest Jewish Characters in Movies

20. Robert DeNiro as Sam "Ace" Rothstein in Casino (1995)

Notable Jewish Moment: Any scene in which Ace handles the casino's finances with extreme care. What, that's not prejudice—that's really what he does!
Classic Quote: "In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all."

Martin Scorsese's movies don't have a shortage of excellent characters—many of whom, of course, were played by Robert De Niro. Sam "Ace" Rothstein, played by Mr. De Niro in the 1995 gangster classic Casino, is arguably one of the most fully realized and impressive in Scorsese's entire filmography, which says a lot. Based on the real Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, Ace uses his sports handicapping expertise and Mafia ties to single-handedly take over Las Vegas. He starts with the Tangiers, a reasonably successful casino that doubles in profits and becomes a hot spot for bookies, celebrities, and big spenders under Rothstein's sharp, take-no-prisoners eye.

Not that Ace's reign comes without any major headaches, though. At home, he has to deal with a gold-digging, druggie wife (Sharon Stone) who continually cheats on him and violently spazzes out in front of their young daughter. And in the workplace, there's his volatile business partner Nicholas "Nicky" Santoro (Joe Pesci), a Napoleon-like enforcer who lacks Ace's ability to calm down, reason, and handle matters maturely. That's why Nicky ultimately gets his head bashed in with a baseball bat while Ace walks away from a failed car bombing with hardly a scratch.

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