RESTAURANT PARKING LOT, LAS VEGAS, 1983 - DAY SAM 'ACE' ROTHSTEIN, a tall, lean, immaculately dressed man approaches his car, opens the door, and gets inside to turn on the ignition. O.) When you love someone, you've gotta trust them. You've got to give them the key to everything that's yours.
Flames, smoke and metal rise into the sky covering the view of the Las Vegas casinos and their signs.
His body twists and turns through the frame like a soul about to tumble into the flames of damnation. I was given one of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas to run, the Tangiers... SAN MARINO ITALIAN GROCERY/BACK ROOM, KANSAS CITY - NIGHT Vignette of MOB BOSSES sitting at a table surrounded by food and wine like the gods of Olympus. O.) ..the only kind of guys that can actually get you that kind of money: sixty-two million, seven-hundred thousand dollars.
TANGIERS CASINO FLOOR - NIGHT Vignette of ACE through rippling flames, we move in on ACE ROTHSTEIN overseeing the casino. I was so good, that whenever I bet, I could change the odds for every bookmaker in the country. I had it down so cold that I was given paradise on earth. Before you know it, you gotta dig a few more holes.
O.) Before I ever ran a casino or got myself blown up, Ace Rothstein was a hell of a handicapper, I can tell you that. I mean, he had me, Nicky Santoro, his best friend, watching his ass... NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT Vignette of GINGER MCKENNA a dazzling thirty-one-year-old blonde seated by a small fiery pool. O.) ..he had Ginger, the woman he loved, on his arm. And who knows who's gonna be comin' along in that time? LAS VEGAS STRIP, 1973 - NIGHT TITLE IN: 'THE STRIP', 'LAS VEGAS', 'TEN YEARS EARLIER' ACE is greeted by a casino exec and walked through the brightly lit entrance to the Tangiers Casino.
BAR, LAS VEGAS - NIGHT Vignette of NICKY SANTORO standing at a bar with DOMINICK SANTORO, his brother, and FRANK MARINO, his right-hand man. O.) ...nobody knew all the details, but it should'a been perfect. TANGIERS SPORTSBOOK/ACE'S OFFICE - NIGHT ACE looks over the casino he rules. Otherwise you're talkin' about a half-hour or forty-five minutes of diggin'. Anywhere else in the country, I was a bookie, a gambler, always lookin' over my shoulder, hassled by cops, day and night. COUNTER #2 rapidly counts the cash and announces: COUNTER #2 Five thousand. O.) I mean, to them everything looked on the up and up.
But at night, you couldn't see the desert that surrounds Las Vegas... DESERT - DAWN Aerial shot swooping along the desert floor, then rising above the mist to reveal mountains in the distance. O.) But it's in the desert where lots of the town's problems are solved. O.) Got a lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. He pours the cash on to the table and shows the empty box to a video camera.
But it turned out to be the last time that street guys like us were ever given anything that fuckin' valuable again. LAS VEGAS - NIGHT Aerial shot coming down out of the clouds over the brightly lit Vegas Strip and off into the blackness of the desert night. O.) At that time, Vegas was a place where millions of suckers flew in every year on their own nickel, and left behind about a billion dollars. Camera reveals several rolls of coins on a lower conveyor as they move up a ladder towards an employee's hands, who then places the rolls on a rack. He walks through the cage, to another door: 'Notice - Keep Out'. Several COUNTERS in white shirts are gathered around a glass table counting and sorting paper money.) ACE (V. The camera follows a cash 'drop box' being lifted from the stack by a clerk.
Camera follows progress as numerous coins move on a conveyor system, through a sorting machine. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money. The sign on the door reads 'Authorized Personnel Only'. It looks like the area behind a teller's cage in a bank. One side is a mesh cage, opened to reveal stacks of cash boxes. At one end of the room the clerks empty the metal boxes and rapidly count the cash at a counting table.
They walk through the casino, past crowded and noisy craps tables, spinning roulette wheels, blackjack tables, poker-faced players at poker tables, and elegant, cordoned-off, black-tie, baccarat tables. O.) I hired an old casino pal, Billy Sherbert, as my manager and I went to work. And this is Ronnie, who takes care of the card room... O.) For guys like me, Las Vegas washes away your sins. It does for us what Lourdes does for humpbacks and cripples. An employee pours a bucket full of coins into a trough. I mean, what do you think we're doing out here in the middle of the desert? This is the end result of all the bright lights and the comped trips, of all the champagne and free hotel suites, and all the broads and all the booze. TANGIERS/FLOOR/SOFT COUNT ROOM - DAY Camera follows JOHN NANCE carrying a small suitcase and walking through the casino to a door leading to the cashier's cage. And their cash flows from the tables to our boxes ...through the cage and into the most sacred room in the casino ..place where they add up all the money ..holy of holies ..count room. We see inside the count room from NANCE'S point of view. O.) Even I couldn't get inside, but it was my job to keep it filled with cash. And the best part was that upstairs, the board of directors didn't know what the fuck was going on. As he does this, the workers studiously look in other directions.
They are joined by top executives RICHIE and RONNIE in suits and ties. TANGIERS/HARD COUNT ROOM - NIGHT Dolly back from a wall of money. O.) They had so much fuckin' money in there, you could build a house out of stacks of $100 bills. He opens his suitcase and begins to fill it with cash.
The camera pans across the room to another table manned by a COUNT ROOM EXECUTIVE who repeats the figure and writes it down on a master list. We move back to NANCE opening a cabinet full of stacks of $100 bills.