Nicholas Pileggi &
Adapted from a true story
This edition represents the structure of the completed film rather than
that of the shooting script.
EXT. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) When you love someone, you've gotta trust them.
There's no other way. You've got to give them the key to
everything that's yours. Otherwise, what's the point? And, for a
while . . . I believed that's the kind of love I had.
(Suddenly, the car explodes. Flames, smoke and metal rise into
the sky covering the view of the Las Vegas casinos and their
Music in: J.S. Bach - 'St Matthew Passion'.
Ace's body comes flying in - extreme slow motion. His body twists
and turns through the frame like a soul about to tumble into the
flames of damnation.)
MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE.
INT. TANGIERS CASINO FLOOR - NIGHT
Vignette of ACE: through rippling flames, we move in on ACE ROTHSTEIN
overseeing the casino. He lights a cigarette.
ACE: (Voice-over) 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 was so good, that whenever I bet, I could change the odds
for every bookmaker in the country. I'm serious. I had it down so
cold that I was given paradise on earth. I was given one of the
biggest casinos in Las Vegas to run, the Tangiers . . .
INT. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . by the only kind of guys that can
actually get you that kind of money: sixty-two million,
seven-hundred thousand dollars. I don't know all the details.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Matter of fact . . .
INT. BAR, LAS VEGAS - NIGHT
Vignette of NICKY SANTORO: standing at a bar with DOMINICK SANTORO, his
brother, and FRANK MARINO, his right-hand man.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . nobody knew all the details, but it
should'a been perfect. I mean, he had me, Nicky Santoro, his best
friend, watching his ass . . .
INT. NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT
Vignette of GINGER MCKENNA: a dazzling thirty-one-year-old blonde seated by
a small fiery pool.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . and he had Ginger, the woman he loved,
on his arm. But in the end . . .
INT. TANGIERS SPORTSBOOK/ACE'S OFFICE - NIGHT
ACE looks over the casino he rules.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . we fucked it all up. It should'a been
so sweet, too. But it turned out to be the last time that street
guys like us were ever given anything that fuckin' valuable
EXT. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) 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. But at night, you couldn't see
the desert that surrounds Las Vegas . . .
EXT. DESERT - DAWN
Aerial shot swooping along the desert floor, then rising above the mist to
reveal mountains in the distance.
ACE: (Voice-over) But it's in the desert where lots of the town's
problems are solved.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Got a lot of holes in the desert, and a lot
of problems are buried in those holes. Except you gotta do it
right. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you
show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise you're talkin'
about a half-hour or forty-five minutes of diggin'. And who knows
who's gonna be comin' along in that time? Before you know it, you
gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.
EXT. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) Who could resist? Anywhere else in the country,
I was a bookie, a gambler, always lookin' over my shoulder,
hassled by cops, day and night. But here, I'm 'Mr Sam Rothstein'.
I'm not only legitimate, but running a casino. And that's like
selling dreams for cash.
INT. TANGIERS CASINO - NIGHT
We see ACE enter alone. He is greeted by BILLY SHERBERT. They are joined by
top executives RICHIE and RONNIE in suits and ties. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) I hired an old casino pal, Billy Sherbert, as
my manager and I went to work.
SHERBERT: (Introducing the EXECS to ACE) . . . And this is
Ronnie, who takes care of the card room . . .
ACE: (Voice-over) For guys like me, Las Vegas washes away your
sins. It's a morality car wash. It does for us what Lourdes does
for humpbacks and cripples. And, along with making us legit . . .
INT. TANGIERS/HARD COUNT ROOM - NIGHT
Dolly back from a wall of money. An employee pours a bucket full of coins
into a trough. Camera follows progress as numerous coins move on a conveyor
system, through a sorting machine. 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.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . comes cash. Tons of it. I mean, what do
you think we're doing out here in the middle of the desert? It's
all this money. 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. It's all been arranged just
for us to get your money. That's the truth about Las Vegas.
INT. 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. The sign on the door reads
'Authorized Personnel Only'. He walks through the cage, to another door:
'Notice - Keep Out'.
ACE: (Voice-over) We're the only winners. The players don't stand
a chance. And their cash flows from the tables to our boxes . . .
through the cage and into the most sacred room in the casino . .
. the place where they add up all the money . . . the holy of
holies . . . the count room.
(He opens the door. We see inside the count room from NANCE'S
point of view. It looks like the area behind a teller's cage in a
bank. A large room, windowless, decor-free. One side is a mesh
cage, opened to reveal stacks of cash boxes. Several COUNTERS in
white shirts are gathered around a glass table counting and
sorting paper money.)
Now this place was off limits.
COUNTER #1: Verify two thousand.
ACE: (Voice-over) Even I couldn't get inside, but it was my job
to keep it filled with cash. That's for sure.
NICKY: (Voice-over) They had so much fuckin' money in there, you
could build a house out of stacks of $100 bills. And the best
part was that upstairs, the board of directors didn't know what
the fuck was going on.
(At one end of the room the clerks empty the metal boxes and
rapidly count the cash at a counting table. The camera follows a
cash 'drop box' being lifted from the stack by a clerk. He pours
the cash on to the table and shows the empty box to a video
camera. COUNTER #2 rapidly counts the cash and announces:)
COUNTER #2: Five thousand.
NICKY: (Voice-over) I mean, to them everything looked on the up
and up. Right? Wrong.
(The first counter recounts the cash.)
COUNTER #1: Verify five thousand.
NICKY: (Voice-over) The guys inside the counting room . . .
(Stacks of bills lie nearby. 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.)
COUNT ROOM EXEC: Five thousand.
(We move back to NANCE opening a cabinet full of stacks of $100
bills. He opens his suitcase and begins to fill it with cash. As
he does this, the workers studiously look in other directions.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . were all slipped in there to skim the
joint dry. They'd do short counts, they'd lose fill slips. They'd
even take cash right out of the drop boxes. And it was up to this
guy right here [NANCE], standin' in front of about two million
dollars, to skim the cash off the top without anybody gettin'
wise . . . the IRS or anybody.
COUNTER #1: Verify two hundred.
(NANCE closes the case and walks out. One of the counters dumps
another container of money on the table.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) Now, notice how in the count room nobody ever
seems to see anything. Somehow, somebody's always lookin' the
other way. Now, look at these guys [COUNTERS]. They look busy,
right? They're countin' money. Who wants to bother them? I mean,
God forbid they should make a mistake and forget to steal.
Meanwhile, you're in and you're out.
(NANCE exits the count room and proceeds through the lobby of the
casino, passing ACE and SHERBERT, to a side exit door.)
Past the jag-off guard who gets an extra c-note a week just to
watch the door. I mean, it's routine. Business as usual: in, out,
hello, goodbye. And that's all there is to it. Just another fat
fuck walkin' out of the casino with a suitcase. Now, that
suitcase was goin' straight to one place: right to Kansas City .
. . which was as close to Las Vegas as the Midwest bosses could
go without gettin' themselves arrested.
(NANCE leaves the casino and gets into a cab parked at the curb.)
EXT. KANSAS CITY AIRPORT - DAY
NANCE arrives. He is greeted by ARTIE PISCANO, a gray-haired sixty-year-old
TITLE IN: 'KANSAS CITY'
NICKY: (Voice-over) That suitcase was all the bosses ever wanted
. . . and they wanted it every month.
PISCANO: Hey, John, how are you? How was your ride?
EXT. SAN MARINO ITALIAN GROCERY, KANSAS CITY - DAY
NANCE, with suitcase, and PISCANO leave the car and enter the produce
NICKY: (Voice-over) Now this old Mormon fuck here . . .
(Cut to: NANCE, as he gets out of Piscano's car.)
INT. SAN MARINO ITALIAN GROCERY, KANSAS CITY - DAY
NANCE and PISCANO walk through the grocery store, through the warehouse,
past various employees to a doorway leading into the back room, where they
are greeted by five older men around a large wooden table with bowls of
macaroni and old jelly glasses filled with red wine.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . he had to fly in with suitcases once a
month, nice and easy.
NANCE: Somethin' smells good.
PISCANO: Yeah, they made us somethin' to eat.
NICKY: (Voice-over) The bosses would come from all over the
place: Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee. All over the Midwest. And
they would meet in the back of this produce market in Kansas
City. I mean, nobody even knew.
(NANCE shakes hands with AMERICO CAPELLI, sixty-eight, a bald,
affable Milwaukee entrepreneur and ARTHUR CAPP, his
thirty-year-old yuppie lawyer son. Camera continues to pan around
One of the guys made his mother do all the cooking.
(On VINCENT BORELLI, seventy-year-old Kansas City boss.)
BORELLI: Did you ever see that guy Jerry Steriano?
(On VINNIE FORLANO, mid-seventies, an old-timer who once drove
for Capone and is now Remo Gaggi's right-hand man.)
FORLANO: Jerry Steriano?
NICKY: (Voice-over) Now, these old greaseballs might not look it,
but believe me, these are the guys who secretly controlled Las
(PISCANO joins his MOTHER and DAUGHTER by a stove.)
PISCANO'S MOTHER: That man's here again.
(Piscano dips a piece of bread into a pot of tomato sauce).
NICKY: (Voice-over) Because they controlled the Teamsters' Union,
and that's where you had to go if you wanted to borrow money to
buy a casino.
BORELLI: (Off-screen) When you've finished with him, I want him.
PISCANO'S MOTHER: (Carrying a plate of food to the table where
BORELLI and FORLANO are seated.) Here you are, gentlemen.
NICKY: (Voice-over) And nobody got a Teamsters' loan, unless the
guys in this room knew they were gonna get their little
(FORLANO gets up from the table and walks toward NANCE.)
Guys like this antique here [FORLANO], out of Detroit. Or
especially guys like Remo Gaggi, the outfit's top boss.
(NANCE embraces REMO GAGGI who's seated on a couch, and sits
across from him.)
GAGGI: You got a round figure on it?
NICKY: (Voice-over) Definitely the most important guy in this
NANCE: (Picking up the suitcase) About twenty pounds.
NANCE: That's around seven hundred thousand.
GAGGI: Uh-huh, good.
(NANCE opens the case to reveal the money.)
ANDY STONE: (Off-screen, from following scene) I know it's a
little early for Las Vegas . . .
INT. TANGIERS EXECUTIVE OFFICE PRESS CONFERENCE/BANQUET ROOM - DAY
Camera tilts down a model of the Tangiers Hotel and Casino, then reveals
the cover of Business Week magazine with a drawing of PHILIP GREEN, a young
corporate type, smiling out under the headline: 'Philip Green, Vegas
STONE: (Off-screen) . . . but I do want to welcome the ladies and
gentlemen of the gaming industry.
(On ANDY STONE, a middle-aged man at a podium giving a speech
while GREEN, seated at a table, looks on. PHOTOGRAPHERS flash
their cameras. ACE and SHERBERT, sitting next to GREEN, also
watch the photo op ceremony.)
ACE: (Voice-over) As far as the world was concerned Andy Stone,
the head of the Teamsters' Pension Fund, was a legitimate guy.
STONE: This is a very auspicious occasion.
ACE: (Voice-over) A powerful man.
STONE: Philip, if you would rise.
(GREEN stands up.)
ACE: (Voice-over) He even played golf with the President.
STONE: On behalf of the Teamsters' Pension Fund, it is my
pleasure to present to you . . .
ACE: (Voice-over) But Andy also took orders. And when he was told
to give a pension fund loan to Philip Green . . .
STONE: (Handing GREEN a large cardboard facsimile 'check') . . .
this check for $62,700,000 for the new Tangiers.
GREEN: Thank you.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . he did what he was told.
(PHILIP GREEN, who is now the head of the Tangiers Hotel and
Casino Corporation, is standing at the podium giving a speech.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) Now here was the perfect front man. I mean,
what the fuck else could he be? He didn't know too much. He
didn't want to know too much, especially that the bosses made the
Teamsters lend him the money. He wanted to believe the Teamsters
gave him all that fuckin' money 'cause he was smart.
(An exploding flash bulb fills the screen.)
GREEN: . . . I say that, knowing full well just how much
competition we have in this great city.
EXT. CHEAP MOTEL OFF HIGHWAY - DAY
We see a MAN and a WOMAN swimming underwater. Camera reveals that they are
in a motel swimming pool with glass portholes. Expensive cars are parked
outside one of the rooms. Hoods stand around outside the door.
NICKY: (Voice-over) And where they got Green from - who the fuck
knows? All I know is that Green was an Arizona real estate
hustler, who barely had enough gas money to come and pick up his
own fuckin' check . . .
INT. TANGIERS EXECUTIVE OFFICE PRESS CONFERENCE/BANQUET ROOM - DAY
We return to the press conference. Photographers snap away. In the
background are six-foot blow-ups of the Business Week cover. The camera
moves past GREEN, CAPP and several other men, past SHERBERT, to ACE.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Now, all they needed was somebody they could
trust to run the casino. And who better than Ace? I mean, he was
already in Vegas a couple of years and he had the fuckin' place
(Freeze frame on ACE.)
INT. TANGIERS SWIMMING POOL - DAY
Camera looks straight down from the top of a hotel to a large pool area.
NICKY: (Voice-over) But typical Ace . . .
INT. TANGIERS SWIMMING POOL/POOLSIDE - DAY
STONE, in a bathing suit and robe, sits on a lounge chair with a telephone.
ACE, in sports clothes, sits on another chair.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . give him a shot at runnin' a casino and
he tries to talk you out of it.
ACE: You know, I don't know if I could do this even if I wanted
to. The Gaming Commission would never give me a license. I have
at least two dozen gambling and bookmaking pinches on me.
STONE: You don't have to have a license to work in a casino. All
you gotta do is apply for one. The state law says you can work in
a casino while they're processing your application. They got a
ACE: But what happens when they do find out?
STONE: Why would they want to find out? We're puttin' a hundred
million into this desert here. Why would they want to lock us
out? And besides, they'll never find out. All you gotta do is
keep changing your job title. Like, uh, from Casino Executive to
Food and Beverage Chairman. And what happens it, they take your
application, they put it at the bottom of the pile. I know guys
workin' there for thirty years, don't have a license.
ACE: (Exhales) It's a tough proposition, Andy. You, you know, if
I did it, I'd have to run it my way.
STONE: You got it.
ACE: I'm serious. No interference.
STONE: Nobody's gonna interfere with your running the casino. I
guarantee it. (STONE lights a cigarette.)
INT. TANGIERS CRAPS PIT - NIGHT
ACE blows on a die.
NICKY: (Voice-over) And that's how that got Ace to take over.
(ACES's hands place the die into a micrometer.)
They wanted him because Ace ate, slept and breathed gambling.
(Camera swish tilts up to ACE, then swish pans to boxman, dealers
and players watching him, trying to act calm.)
They worked out a real cute job title too.
(We see the die in the micrometer.)
Tangiers Public Relations Director.
(Satisfied the die is not loaded ACE sets it on the craps table,
the camera cranes up to reveal the Tangiers Casino floor.)
But the only thing he ever directed was the casino. He made his
first bet when he was fifteen years old, and he always made
money. But he didn't bet like you or me.
(A DEALER is sliding chips, tossing them on to a craps table.)
You know, havin' some fun with it, shit like that.
ACE: (Approaching the DEALER) Where the hell did you learn how to
deal? (He reaches down, stacking and arranging the chips.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) He bet like a fuckin' brain surgeon.
ACE: (To the chastised DEALER) Place the checks properly. That's
the way you do it.
DEALER: Yes, sir.
NICKY: (Voice-over) He had to know everything, this guy.
(Direct overhead tracking shot as ACE walks between two rows of
He'd find out the kind of inside stuff nobody else knew, and
that's what he'd put his money on.
INT. GYM/BOOKIE JOINT, BACK HOME, PRE-SEVENTIES - DAY
ACE walks past two boxers sparring in a ring, through a doorway into a room
where several gamblers are seated around a table.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Even back home, years ago, when we were first
hangin' out together . . .
TITLE IN: 'BACK HOME, YEARS AGO'
. . . he'd know if the quarterback was on coke.
(ACE is looking at the odds board for college football games. The
bookie, LUCKY LARRY, is waiting for ACE to hand in his picks.)
ACE: I'll take Columbia for twenty.
NICKY: (Voice-over) If his girlfriend was knocked up.
LUCKY LARRY: Twenty dimes on Columbia . . .
(As soon as ACE bets, a man erases a number from the chalkboard
and replaces it was a '6', changing the odds. Two GAMBLERS
saunter from the room.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) He'd get the wind velocity so he could judge
the field goals. He even figured out the different bounce you got
off the different kinds of wood they used on college basketball
courts, you know?
EXT. GYM/BOOKIE JOINT PUBLIC PHONES - DAY
The two GAMBLERS we saw sauntering out of the bookie joint are racing to
the nearest public phones. Another GAMBLER has already beaten them to it.
NICKY: (Voice-over) He'd be workin' on this shit day and night.
There was nothin' about a game he was gonna bet that he didn't
GAMBLER #1: (Into phone) Ace got down at six.
GAMBLER #2: (Into phone) Charlie, hey. Rothstein got six.
INT. GYM/BOOKIE JOINT, SEVERAL DAYS LATER - DAY
A bookie hands a stack of money to another bookie, who hands the money to
ACE. ACE removes several bills from the top of the stack of winnings and
holds them out to the BOOKIES.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Season after season, the prick was the only
guaranteed winner I ever knew. But he was so serious about it all
that I don't think he ever enjoyed himself. But . . .
. . . that's just the way he was.
INT. MOB SOCIAL CLUB BACK ROOM - NIGHT
The room has an espresso machine and a saint's day calendar. Assorted hoods
are listening to NICKY at the bar. Camera dollies to REMO GAGGI, at the
rear table playing gin rummy with OLD MAN CAPO and losing. Every time the
CAPO picks up a card, he's able to knock or get gin, sending GAGGI into a
fit bemoaning his bad luck.
NICKY: (Voice-over) But back then the bosses didn't give a fuck
about whether he enjoyed himself of not. To them, he was a cash
register. All they had to do was ring the bell and take the
money. Especially Remo, who was a fuckin' degenerate gambler who
GAGGI: (Slams down his cards and curses at his losing hands) Ma
che cazzo! [Italian-American slang for 'What a prick.'] All those
NICKY: (Voice-over) I mean, unless Ace made his bet.
GAGGI: That's enough now!
OLD MAN CAPO: I can't contest the cards.
GAGGI: Va fa 'n culo! [Italian-American slang for 'Fuck off']
(Summoning a young man.) Johnny!
NICKY: (Voice-over) Ace made more money for them on a weekend
than I could do heisting joints for a month.
(ACE enters and walks to GAGGI's table.)
Whatever Ace picked up on the street he told Remo.
NICKY: (Walks over to ACE and whispers) Hey, did you bring that
NICKY: (Voice-over) You know, I mean fixed fights, doped horses,
crooked fuckin' zebras . . . locked-in point spreads. He told
fuckin' Remo everything. And to tell you the truth. I don't blame
(GAGGI stands up and shakes ACE's hand.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) Keepin' Remo happy with money was the
greatest insurance policy in the world.
(GAGGI beams as ACE takes out an envelope filled with cash and
hands it over to him. GAGGI sits back down and ACE, knowing his
place, smiles and is about to leave. )
GAGGI: Son-of-a-bitch. How the hell did you get
Oklahoma-Michigan? Nobody ever had Oklahoma-Mi . . . How the
hell'd you do it?
ACE: Well, that's why they paid so well.
GAGGI: You see? (Chuckles.) Never tells me nothin'. Ace, what do
we got on for next week?
ACE: Well, it's a little too early. I'd say Thursday would be
good. I'll know by then. Is that all right?
GAGGI: Okay. You come by the house?
ACE: I'll come by.
GAGGI: Seven o'clock?
ACE: Seven o'clock.
(GAGGI gets up and kisses ACE as NICKY and OLD MAN CAPO look on.)
GAGGI: Good job, my boy. Keep it up. Okay, Ace?
(ACE nods in agreement and leaves the room.)
(To NICKY) Hey, Nick. Vien acca. [Italian-American slang for
NICKY: (To ACE) I'll be right out.
GAGGI: T'aggia parla. [Italian-American slang for 'I've got to
talk to you'] Nicky . . . see that guy (pointing to the
GAGGI: Keep a good eye on him. He's makin' a lot of money for us.
And he's gonna continue makin' a lot of money for us, so keep a
good eye on him.
GAGGI: Not like your fuckin' friends out there, that . . .
without brains. Okay?
NICKY: All right.
GAGGI: Uh-huh. Mi raccomando. [Italian-American slang for 'I'm
counting on you']
NICKY: (Reaching down to touch GAGGI's money, joking with him.)
Want me to take this for you? (He walks out.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) So, now, on top of everything else, I gotta
make sure that nobody fucks around with the Golden Jew.
INT. BACK HOME BAR - NIGHT
We move past JOE, a guy at the bar entertaining a BRUNETTE and a BLONDE, to
NICKY and FRANK MARINO at the other end. There are other bar patrons in the
JOE: (To the BARTENDER) Chase, couple of shooters for the ladies.
BARTENDER: (Off-screen) All right.
ACE:(Voice-over) Yeah, we made a great pair. I made book and
Nicky made sure we always collected. The old men loved us. And
why not? They all made money with us.
NICKY: (To MARINO) They payin'?
ACE: (Voice-over) How did Nicky collect?
MARINO: They pay every week, like they're supposed to.
ACE: (Voice-over) Don't ask.
NICKY: Then where the fuck is the money? I don't see the money.
(ACE enters, and greets the two girls.)
ACE: Hi, Melissa. Heidi.
BLONDE: Hi, Sam.
JOE: (To the GIRLS) Who's this guy?
MARINO: (To NICKY) Get the fuck out of here. It was nine. I laid
(ACE approaches NICKY and MARINO.)
NICKY: It was eight. Ace . . . tell him the line on the Bear's
NICKY: If he don't know, nobody knows. Told you it was eight.
MARINO: Well, how come I laid nine?
NICKY: 'Cause you're a jag-off. I would have fuckin' made you lay
ten . . .
(ACE notices a pen lying on the bar. He taps JOE on the
ACE: (To JOE) Excuse me.
ACE: (He holds up the pen) Is this yours? Your pen?
JOE: Yeah, that's my pen. Why?
ACE: I ju- Well, it's a nice pen. I just didn't know whose it
was. I thought it was yours. I didn't want it to get lost.
JOE: Well, thank you. Why don't you take that fuckin' pen and
shove it up you ass, you fuckin' jag-off?
(NICKY looks over.)
ACE: Well, I was just offering you the -
(NICKY moves towards JOE.)
JOE: (Turning his back to talk to the girls, referring to ACE)
This fuckin' asshole.
(NICKY grabs the pen out of ACE's hand.)
MAN #1 (To JOE) Look out -
(Before ACE can react, NICKY grabs JOE and starts stabbing him in
the neck with the pen.)
- Joe! Look out, Joe! Look out!
(NICKY grunts while JOE gasps and groans. The BLONDE screams
while NICKY's hand continues to plunge the pen into JOE's throat.
JOE tumbles to the floor. NICKY pounces on him, still stabbing
and now kicking. JOE whimpers.)
NICKY: What's that? You hear? You hear a little girl, Frankie?
You hear a little girl, Ace? Is that a little fuckin' girl?! What
happened to the fuckin' tough guy? Told my friend stick it up his
fuckin' ass?! Huh?! Huh?!
ACE: (Over whimpers and pants) Wait a sec, Nicky, Nicky, Nicky.
Ta-take it easy.
(ACE looks stunned. NICKY's still holding the bloody pen.)
ACE: (Voice-over) While I was tryin' to figure out why the guy
was sayin' what he was sayin', Nicky just hit me. No matter how
big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with
fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he
comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better
kill him, because he'll keep comin' back and back until one of
you is dead.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Listen . . .
INT. TANGIERS CASINO FLOOR, 1972 - NIGHT
Camera swoops from a woman cheering as she wins at a slot-machine to a
blackjack table, then to a roulette table and over to a craps table.
Montage of very short cuts of chips being picked up, dice thrown, money
being poured from a bucket, stacks of money.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . with me protecting Ace, he made a
fortune for the bosses. I mean that's what got him to Vegas. He
was a money machine. A tremendous earner for these guys. As soon
as he took over, he doubled the fuckin' drop. With Ace the casino
never saw so much money. And the bosses, they couldn't be
INT. TANGIERS CASINO FLOOR - NIGHT
Camera moves in on ACE as he looks out over the casino. Dealers deftly
stack chips, scoop up losses and pay off winners. Chips and money are
In extreme close-up slow motion a die falls on to a table.
INT. TANGIERS CASINO SLOT-MACHINE AREA - NIGHT
ACE and SHERBERT are walking down a casino aisle by the slot-machines.
Dealers immediately snap to attention at their approach.
ACE: (Voice-over) In Vegas, I had to keep a few juiced-in local
cowboys working. They were close to the, you know, good old boys.
ACE: (To SHERBERT) Pay him six hundred a week, tell him to walk
around and look smart.
ACE: (Voice-over) I mean, without us, these guys, they'd still be
shovellin' mule shit.
(ACE points at paper cups, empty glasses and the debris of silver
dollar wrappings on the floor. DON WARD, the Slots Manager in
Western garb, immediately starts picking up the debris. ACE looks
at WARD sternly.)
ACE: Ward, you gotta keep a cleaner station. If you need 'Mr
Clean', page him, all right?
(WARD bends down and picks up some trash.)
WARD: It won't happen again, Sam.
ACE: Mr Rothstein.
ACE: (To SHERBERT.) Is this guy just another dumb fuckin' white
man, or what? What's his story?
SHERBERT: We need this guy.
ACE: We can't get rid of him?
SHERBERT: He's juiced in. He's the County Commissioner's cousin.
ACE: I wouldn't give the bum a mop job.
INT. TANGIERS BACCARAT TABLES - NIGHT
A card shoe slides across the baccarat table. A state SENATOR , a little
drunk, tips the dealer, kisses the blonder HOOKER with him, fills his
pockets with his winnings and walks over to see ACE.
ACE: (Voice-over) These yokels ran the state.
DEALER #1: Thank you very much, Senator.
ACE: (Voice-over) They passed the laws, they owned the courts.
SENATOR: Hi, Ace.
ACE: Hello, Senator.
(They shake hands.)
SENATOR: (To ACE) Hey, I need a room. Need a room.
ACE: Good to see ya. (To SHERBERT.) William would you . . .
(The SENATOR shakes hands with SHERBERT as the HOOKER joins
ACE: (Voice-over) I had dozens of politicians and state officials
comin' through that place every week.
SHERBERT: Nice to see you, Senator.
ACE: (To SHERBERT) Help the Senator, give him whatever he wants.
SHERBERT: Certainly. (Leads the way.) Senator.
ACE: (Voice-over) Why not make them happy?
SHERBERT: We have some nice penthouses you'll enjoy. Maybe the
INT. TANGIERS PRESIDENTIAL SUITE - DAY
The SENATOR unzips the HOOKER's dress, kisses her and walks through the
bedroom doorway, looking over his shoulder to her as she takes off her
dress and walks out of his sight.
ACE: (Voice-over) For politicians . . .
INT. TANGIERS BACCARAT TABLES - DAY
ACE smoking a cigarette by the baccarat tables.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . like our state senator up there,
everything was on the house.
INT. TANGIERS PRESIDENTIAL SUITE - DAY
The SENATOR opens a bureau drawer and takes out a small velvet pouch and
pours black $100 into his palm.
ACE: (Voice-over) These guys won their comped life when they got
elected. So, hey, why not take advantage of it? Still, the
politicians come cheap. We could handle them.
INT. TANGIERS, ICHIKAWA LUXURY SUITE - DAY
K. K. ICHIKAWA a Japanese businessman, and a male associate pick up towels
and soap from about the bedroom of their suite. A blonde woman checks
herself in the mirror.
ACE: (Voice-over) It's a whale like K. K. Ichikawa, who plays
thirty thousand dollars a hand in baccarat. That's the one you
really gotta watch.
(ICHIKAWA and his associate walk into the the suite's living-room
and join a Japanese woman seated on a couch.)
He plays fast and big and he has the cash and the credit to turn
out your lights. About a year ago, he cleaned out a couple of
casinos in the Cayman Islands.
(They begin to stuff Tangiers soap and towels into their
Downstairs, he takes us for two million . . . and upstairs he
takes free soap, shampoo and towels. Another billionaire
cheapskate who loves his free rooms . . .
EXT. TANGIERS JET, LAS VEGAS AIRPORT - DAY
The Tangiers jet with the Tangiers logo on its side as ICHIKAWA shakes
ACE's hands before boarding. SHERBERT follows him and his associates
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . free private jets, and two million of our
ACE: Nice to see you again.
ACE: (Voice-over) But we got him back. I had our pilot tell him
the plane was on the fritz.
EXT. TANGIERS JET, STILL IN THE SAME SPOT - NIGHT
SHERBERT apologizes to ICHIKAWA and his entourage as they all get off the
SHERBERT: Ken, I don't know what the hell went wrong. I'm awfully
ICHIKAWA: This is a big problem. Big problem.
SHERBERT: I can't understand it. These mechanical things, you
know, they happen. Hey, be-better here than (gesturing to the
sky) up there, you know what I mean?
INT. LAS VEGAS AIRPORT RESERVATION DESK - NIGHT
SHERBERT arguing with TICKET AGENT as ICHIKAWA and entourage look glum.
ACE: (Voice-over) Then he missed the commercial flights
connecting with Japan.
AGENT: I'm so sorry. There's a convention in town, and all
flights are booked.
SHERBERT: A convention? (Turning to ICHIKAWA.) I can't believe
that there's a convention. It's never . . . ?
ICHIKAWA: What can I do?
EXT. TANGIERS CASINO - NIGHT
A smiling ACE greets ICHIKAWA and his entourage as they drive up and get
out of Tangiers limos.
ACE: (Voice-over) We got him back . . . with a whole floor of
rooms for himself.
ACE: I'm sorry you missed the plane.
ICHIKAWA: You want to get my money back, right? (Chuckles.)
ACE: No, no, no. No gambling. No.
INT. TANGIERS BACCARAT TABLES - NIGHT
ICHIKAWA, with the Japanese woman, picks up some chips and places them on
the table. ACE and SHERBERT watch from behind a barrier.
ACE: (Voice-over) He bet one thousand a hand instead of his usual
thirty thousand a hand.
(A dealer's hands slide two cards on the table.)
DEALER: The bank wins a natural eight over a five.
(Another dealer's hands place two chips on a table. ICHIKAWA
ACE: (Voice-over) But I knew, the trick with whales like Ichikawa
was that they can't bet small for long. He didn't think of it as
winning ten thousand, he thought of it as losing ninety thousand.
(ICHIKAWA places a larger bet.)
So, he upped his bets . . .
(A dealer picks up some chips from a rack and places them on the
table. ICHIKAWA is now seated with stacks of chips in front of
. . . until he dropped his winnings back and gave up a million of
his own cash.
(ICHIKAWA, hours later, his chips depleted. ACE and SHERBERT
still watch from behind the barrier as millions in chips are back
in the dealer's racks.)
In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing . . .
(Move in on ACE as he smokes a cigarette.)
. . . and keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more
they lose. In the end, we get it all.
INT. TANGIERS CASINO - NIGHT
ACE, with pit bosses next to him, looks out over the huge casino where
hundreds of thousands of dollars are being poured into machines.
ACE: (Voice-over) In Vegas, everybody's gotta watch everybody
(Camera reveals the DEALER at a craps table.)
DEALER: Six, an easy way. Six! All right, who's gonna give me . .
. (The DEALER places some chips on the table.)
ACE: (Voice-over) Since the players are looking to beat the
casino . . .
(The camera is on the DEALER.)
DEALER: . . . both dice must hit that back wall each and every
roll. All right, make a six!
(Camera pans to a WOMAN and a MAN at the table. The WOMAN tosses
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . the dealers are watching the players.
WOMAN: Gimme a six!
DEALER: Come on, baby, make a six!
(A BOX MAN, seated mid-table is watching the DEALER.)
ACE: (Voice-over) The box men are watching the dealers.
(Camera pans to the DEALER.)
DEALER: Humming, fielding, every roll.
(Camera pans to a FLOOR MAN, standing directly behind the BOX
ACE: (Voice-over) The floor men are watching the box men.
(Camera swish pans to reveal a PIT BOSS stepping in, scanning the
The pit bosses are watching the floor men.
(Swish pan to a SHIFT BOSS surveying the casino.)
The shift bosses are watching the pit bosses.
(Swish pan to SHERBERT.)
The casino manager is watching the shift bosses.
(Swish pan to ACE.)
I'm watching the casino manager.
(Camera swish pans and tilts up to a video camera mounted inside
a glass dome hanging from the ceiling.)
And the eye-in-the-sky is watching us all.
(Swish pan to:)
INT. TANGIERS-EYE-IN-THE SKY MONITOR ROOM - NIGHT
Video monitors show a dealer fanning a row of bills. Swish pan to ACE and
SHERBERT watching the monitor. ACE lights a cigarette.
ACE: (Voice-over) Plus . . .
(Swish pan to surveillance catwalkers adjusting cameras and
spying on players below with binoculars.)
. . . we had a dozen guys up there, most of them ex-cheats, who
knew every trick in the house.
INT. TANGIERS CRAPS TABLE - NIGHT
Ginger squeals as she throws the dice across the table.
HIGH ROLLER: Come on, come on.
(She rolls a winner.)
HIGH ROLLER: Thank you. Very nice.
GINGER: (Chuckles) I told you I was hot tonight.
INT. TANGIERS EYE-IN-THE-SKY MONITOR ROOM - NIGHT
Sound out: The monitor shows GINGER and the HIGH ROLLER cheering, she
throws her arms around him. The crowd goes crazy.
Swish pan to ACE looking on intently.
On screen, GINGER's hand sneaks a chip from the rack and subtly moves it
towards her purse.
INT. TANGIERS CRAPS TABLE - NIGHT
Sound in: GINGER slips the chip quietly into her bag.
HIGH ROLLER: (Off-screen) Let's go. This is for Ginger. Come on.
This is for Ginger.
(The HIGH ROLLER notices GINGER's hand on her purse. She pretends
to have taken out her lipstick.)
GAMBLER #1: Let me have a hundred on the hard ten. Thank you.
GAMBLER #2: Hard ten. One hundred.
INT. TANGIERS EYE-IN-THE-SKY MONITOR ROOM - NIGHT
ACE continues to look at the monitor. SHERBERT and a security man seated at
a video console also look on.
INT. TANGIERS CRAPS TABLE - NIGHT
A craps stick pushes some dice towards GINGER. She rolls again, only this
time she craps out. Gamblers groan, then applaud her. She's made so much
money for the table that the winners toss chips in her direction.
HIGH ROLLER: I'm sorry.
GINGER: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. (To the table.) Thank you very
much. Thank you very much.
(ACE and two casino execs are now on the floor watching her.)
GINGER: Thank you, sir, I appreciate that. Everybody, thanks.
(Gives some chips as tips to the dealer and box man.) Thanks.
Take care, Steve. Take chances and drive fast.
HIGH ROLLER: Ginger, honey.
DEALER: Thank you very much, now.
HIGH ROLLER: Ginger, honey, this is for you love. Thanks for your
(She turns to the HIGH ROLLER, who is handing her a thin stack of
chips worth about $2,000.)
GINGER: (Chuckles) Come on.
HIGH ROLLER: What's the matter?
GINGER: What do you mean, 'What's the matter?' I made a lot of
money for you. I want my cut.
HIGH ROLLER: What money? I've seen you stealing from me.
GINGER: What money? Look at this stack of chips. Don't give me
that shit. I want my end.
HIGH ROLLER: Ginger, I've been watching you all night. You've
been stealing from me.
GINGER: Don't give me that shit. I want my money.
HIGH ROLLER: That bag's full of fuckin' chips you -
GINGER: (Interrupts) What do you mean 'stole'? I didn't steal
anything from you.
(ACE watches the argument heat up.)
HIGH ROLLER: Get lost, Ginger! Get lost!
GINGER: Get lost?
HIGH ROLLER: Yes.
GINGER: Get lost?
HIGH ROLLER: Yes.
(GINGER knocks the chip rack out of his hands.)
GINGER: Well, how 'bout that?
HIGH ROLLER: Come on! (He bends down to pick them up.)
(Gamblers and dealers shout and yell. She picks up another rack
of chips and tosses them into the air, then another, and another.
Chips fly all over the casino. Everyone starts diving for chips.
Dealers. Players. Security guards. Waitresses. Pit bosses.
ACE and the two execs with him are the only ones not diving for
chips. He looks at GINGER. She looks at him.
Freeze frame on GINGER.
Slow motion: GINGER smiles at ACE and walks off.)
ACE: (Voice-over) What a move. I fell in love right there.
INT. COCKTAIL LOUNGE - NIGHT
GINGER and ACE are seated on a banquette. Close up of his hand attaching a
diamond and ruby pin to her dress. Tilt up to GINGER's smiling face beaming
ACE: (Voice-over) But in Vegas, for a girl like Ginger, love
GINGER: I'm going to go powder my nose.
(ACE hands GINGER a single $50 bill. She smiles coyly. He hands
her another fifty.)
ACE: (Voice-over) Ginger's mission in life was money.
GINGER: I'll be right back.
(Off-screen, from following scene:) See you, Ginger.
FLASHBACK - EXT. CASINO ENTRANCE - NIGHT
GINGER waves goodbye to the DOORMAN and walks towards two VALET PARKERS who
greet her warmly. She gets a bottle of pills from one of them and slips
some cash into his hand in return.
GINGER: Okay, thank you for asking.
ACE: (Voice-over) She was a queen around the casino. She brought
in high rollers and helped them spread around a lot of money.
GINGER: (To VALET PARKERS) Hello.
VALET PARKER: Hey, Ginger, how you doin'?
GINGER: Great. (Handing the VALET some money.) And I have
something for you. You got me covered?
(The VALET PARKER places a vial of pills in her hand.)
VALET PARKER: Yes. Something for you, there.
GINGER: And you do. Thank you very much.
VALET PARKER: Take care of yourself.
FLASHBACK - INT. HOTEL SUITE BATHROOM - NIGHT
GINGER hands the pills to HIGH ROLLER #2 in his hotel bathroom, where he is
washing his face and trying to energize himself.
GINGER: I got some lucky pills for you, honey.
HIGH ROLLER #2: Oh, yeah?
ACE: (Voice-over) Who didn't want Ginger? She was one of the
best-known, best-liked and most respected hustlers in town. Smart
hustlers like her could keep a guy awake for two or three days
before sending him home broke to the little woman and his bank
INT. COCKTAIL LOUNGE - NIGHT
GINGER comes back from the ladies room. She kisses ACE.
ACE: Any change?
GINGER: (Chuckles) I hit a few . . . uh, games on the way back.
ACE: (Voice-over) That was all bullshit. She just pocketed the
FLASHBACK - INT. TANGIERS CASHIER'S CAGE - NIGHT
GINGER converts her chips into a pile of $100 bills.
GINGER: (To CASHIER) How you doin' tonight?
CASHIER: Good. How are you?
GINGER: (Sighing) Oh, beat.
ACE: (Voice-over) Ginger had the hustler's code.
GINGER: Take one for you.
CASHIER: (While she counts out the cash) Thank you.
ACE: (Voice-over) She knew how to take care of people. And that's
what Vegas was all about.
CASHIER: (As she pushes a stack of $100 bills across the counter)
GINGER: Thanks (She picks up the cash.)
CASHIER: You're welcome.
ACE: (Voice-over) It's Kickback City.
GINGER: You have a good night.
CASHIER: Thank you. You too.
Close-up of GINGER folding a $100 bill and placing it in her
palm. She slips the folded bill deftly into the palm of a floor
ACE: (Voice-over) She took care of the dealers . . .
GINGER: Hey, Mitch.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . pit bosses, floor managers.
GINGER: Thank you.
ACE: But mostly . . .
EXT. TANGIERS ENTRANCE - NIGHT
GINGER, on her way out of the casino, passes a folded $100 bill to a
smiling older SHIFT BOSS.
ACE: (Voice-over) . . . she took care of the valet parkers, the
guys who could get you anything and take care of anything.
GINGER: Thanks a lot.
SHIFT BOSS: Thank you, Ginger.
EXT. TANGIERS ENTRANCE - NIGHT
GINGER exits and gets into her car, slipping a VALET PARKER a $100 bill.
ACE: (Voice-over) Ginger took care of the parkers because they
took care of the security guards, who took care of the metro
cops, who let her operate.
VALET PARKER #3: Thank you, Ginger.
GINGER: (Getting into her car) I need that stuff tonight.
VALET PARKER #3: No problem.
GINGER: You're a doll.
ACE: (Voice-over) The valet parking job was such a money-maker
that they had to pay off the hotel manager just to get the
INT. GINGER'S APARTMENT - DAY
GINGER enters the room with $25,000 in her hands. She taps LESTER DIAMOND's
leg with it and he turns to her.
ACE: (Voice-over) But one thing I could never understand, was
that she could have everything under control, except for her old
pimp boyfriend, Lester Diamond.
LESTER: Look, Gin, you know I got other people in this. I got
partners. But I want you to understand that I am lookin' out for
you in this thing. Okay? You're going to get yours back . . . and
you're gonna get it back first. Okay?
GINGER: All right.
LESTER: Where are you goin'? Where are you? You're in that place.
Where are you?
GINGER: I'm here.
LESTER: No, you're not. Where are you? Where are you?
GINGER: I'm always here for you.
LESTER: You are.
GINGER: I am.
(He hastily kisses GINGER and slips out the door.)
ACE: (Voice-over) The Ginger I knew wouldn't even look at this
GINGER: Good luck.
ACE: (Voice-over) He was a moocher, a card cheat, a country-club
gold hustler. A scumbag . . . chasing dentists for a few bucks.
(GINGER looks out of the window and sees LESTER get into a
convertible and drive off.)
ACE: (Voice-over) I mean, the guy was always broke, he always had
a story. And somehow, she could never turn him down. The way
Ginger saw it, I guess, was that Lester was just an unlucky guy.
Somebody had to take care of him.
INT. BACK HOME AIRPORT/CUSTOMS - DAY
NICKY, his wife JENNIFER, with a beehive hairdo, and their eight-year-old
son LITTLE NICKY, are detained while their luggage is searched by a customs
TITLE IN: 'BACK HOME'
ACE: (Voice-over) But nobody had to take care of Nicky.
NICKY: (To customs agent) You find any cash in there, we'll whack
it up with you.
ACE: (Voice-over) I mean, he took care of himself only too well.
And that's why every badge back home wanted to nail him.
JENNIFER: (To customs agent) Excuse me, but I folded these things
beautifully and I would appreciate a little respect. Jesus
NICKY: Don't look at me, pal. I gotta live with her.
(We see MARINO waiting for NICKY outside the customs area. Two
COPS push past him.)
ACE: (Voice-over) Even after a little vacation, they hassled him
at the airport.
COP #1: (To MARINO) Excuse me.
ACE: (Voice-over) I mean, Frank Marino was there to meet him, but
so were the cops. This time they wanted to pinch him for some
diamond burglary in Antwerp.
(Camera dollies in on JENNIFER's beehive.)
JENNIFER: Oh, yes. Will you help me fold these, please?
ACE: (Voice-over) They were ready to blame him for anything, no
matter where it happened.
FLASH FORWARD - INT. NICKY'S HOUSE/BACK HOME - DAY
NICKY, JENNIFER, LITTLE NICKY and MARINO walk in.
JENNIFER: (To LITTLE NICKY) You go and put your things away.
ACE: (Voice-over) And they were usually right.
(NICKY, JENNIFER and MARINO are gathered around the kitchen
table. JENNIFER leans over and starts to shake her hair.)
MARINO: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
NICKY: Hold it, hold it. Here.
(NICKY places a red towel down on the table. JENNIFER leans over
again, tugs and shakes her hair until diamonds begin to fall out
of her beehive.)
ACE: (Voice-over Because Nicky enjoyed being a gangster, and he
didn't give a damn who knew it.
JENNIFER: Come on. There we go. Look at that. Beautiful.
(Diamonds fall on the red towel in slow motion.)
ACE: (Voice-over) I mean, that's what worried me, 'cause it turns
out Nicky was about to be sent to Vegas.
JENNIFER: All right, we're clear.
NICKY: There's more!
JENNIFER: I think that's it.
NICKY: There's more! There's a couple stuck in there. I know
JENNIFER: God, I'm telling you, they're out!
NICKY: Come on, damn it. Don't get so defensive. It could be
stuck in your hair, you know.
(NICKY grasps JENNIFER's hair.)
JENNIFER: Look, there aren't . . .
(A diamond falls out of her beehive.)
There aren't but -
NICKY: Oh, there aren't? (Showing her the diamond.) What's that?
(Slaps her.) Huh? What's that.
There's no more. Thanks, hon. (Kisses her.)
INT. BACK HOME AIRPORT/CUSTOMS - DAY
NICKY: (Voice-over) I couldn't wait to get my hands on Vegas. But
the bosses didn't send me out there to have a good time.
INT. SAN MARINO ITALIAN GROCERY/BACK ROOM, KANSAS CITY - NIGHT
Mob bosses FORLANO, CAPELLI, GAGGI, BORELLI and PISCANO seated around the
back room table eating and talking as in the opening vignette.
NICKY: (Voice-over) They sent me out there to make sure that
nobody fucked with Ace and . . .
INT. ACE'S TANGIERS PENTHOUSE, LAS VEGAS - DAY
ACE opens the door to NICKY and JENNIFER.
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . nobody interfered with the fuckin'
ACE: (Opening door) Hey.
JENNIFER: Hey, how you doin'? (Kisses ACE.)
NICKY: Hey. Hey, Sammy, how are you?
(JENNIFER and NICKY take in ACE's spectacular Vegas-style
JENNIFER: (Whispering) Wow.
NICKY: Boy, look at this place, huh?
NICKY: All right.
ACE: Welcome to Vegas.
(Camera tilts up to reveal a sweeping view of the Las Vegas
NICKY: Okay, Sammy.
ACE: Somethin', huh?
ACE: (Calling her over) Ginger.
(GINGER emerges from the bedroom. NICKY and JENNIFER are both
stunned by her beauty.)
NICKY: (To ACE) Holy shit, what've you been doin' out here?
ACE: Honey, come here.
(She walks to them)
This is Jennifer and Nick. They're dear friends of mine.
JENNIFER: (Shaking hands) Good to meet you.
GINGER: Hi, Jennifer.
NICKY: Pleasure. (Grasping GINGER's hand and kissing it.) Very
nice to meet you.
GINGER: Hi, how are you?
NICKY: Okay, Sammy.
INT. ACE'S CAR, LAS VEGAS STRIP - NIGHT
ACE and NICKY are driving through town, the neon lights of Vegas reflected
in the windshield.
ACE: (Voice-over) After we ate, we left Jennifer and Ginger alone
and we took a ride to talk. And then . . . he hit me with it.
NICKY: What do you think about me movin' out here?
(ACE looks away.)
What's the matter? You got a problem with that?
ACE: No, of course not.
NICKY: (Playfully) You mean, I have your permission?
ACE: Sure, you have my permission. But I - I just gotta tell you
it's no joke out here. It's no joke, you know? You gotta keep a
low profile. It's not like back home. Right off the bat, they
don't like guys like us. And this sheriff's a real cowboy. Even
the coppers aren't afraid to bury people out in the desert here.
NICKY: I don't care. I want to get away from back home for a
while. I'm tired of that shit back there. (Referring to the Vegas
lights.) Look at this place. It's made of money. You know what
the best part is? Nobody's gonna know what we're doin'! There's
nobody here to see us! Everybody's back home.
ACE: Nick, I gotta tell you, I got pinched twice for no reason.
You really gotta be careful. I'm running a licensed place.
NICKY: Don't worry about it. I'm not gonna do anything. What am I
gonna do? I'm especially not gonna involve you in anything.
(ACE gives NICKY a look.)
EXT./INT. LAS VEGAS SPORTSBOOK - NIGHT
NICKY and MARINO pull up in their car and get out.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Ace saw Vegas one way.
NICKY: You call this guy and tell him I'm comin'?
MARINO: Of course.
(They walk into the sportsbook, past numerous bar patrons and
gamblers to TONY, the bookie at a betting counter.)
NICKY: (Voice-over) But I saw it another. I saw it as untouched.
I mean, they had bookies, pimps and drug dealers I could shake
down. Who the fuck were they gonna run to? So, I started getting
everybody in line. Best of all, for the first time in my life, I
figured out a way not to lose.
ACE: (Voice-over) Yeah, he had a fool-proof scheme, all right. It
wasn't very scientific but it worked. When he won, he collected.
When he lost, he told the bookies to go fuck themselves. What
were they gonna do? Muscle Nicky? (Chuckles.) Nicky was the
(NICKY grabs TONY by the back of his neck.)
NICKY: How you doin'?
TONY: How you doin'?
NICKY: All right, yeah. You got that thing for me?
TONY: What thing? Oh, Nicky . . . I thought you was layin'.
NICKY: I was layin'? No, no, I'm taking it. I was takin' it.
TONY: You sure?
NICKY: I'm positive.
TONY: Well, I'm a little confused here.
NICKY: You're a little confused?
NICKY: (Pointing to a window, above a counter with a tiny opening
to talk through) Maybe if I stick your fuckin' face through this
window over here like, you know, you'll - you'll get unconfused.
Give me the fuckin' money!
(TONY takes some money out of his coat pocket.)
TONY: (Groaning) I'm sorry, Nicky. I didn't mean anything by it.
NICKY: Yeah, I know, that's why you had it ready. You thought I
was fuckin' layin' it?!
(He smacks the bookie on the head with the wad of money.)
TONY: (Gasps) My fuckin' head.
NICKY: Your fuckin' head, huh? Don't fuck around, Tony.
MARINO (Pointing to TONY) Smarten up.
NICKY: (Walking out) You jag-off.
CLASSROOM NUN: (Off-screen, from following scene) And now . . .
INT. CATHOLIC SCHOOL CLASSROOM - DAY
NICKY and JENNIFER stand in the background with other parents listening to
a NUN school teacher. LITTLE NICKY and other youngsters are seated at small
CLASSROOM NUN: . . . Nicholas Santoro will come up and tell us
about our first president.
LITTLE NICKY: (Stepping up in front of the class to begin a
George Washington was born in a . . .
ACE: (Voice-over But still, it was nice and quiet for a while.
Ginger and I presented Nicky and Jennifer all over town, like
regular Ozzie and Harriets.
LITTLE NICKY: . . . typical Virginia farmhouse.
EXT. LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD - DAY
NICKY and DETECTIVE BOB JOHNSON are coaching their sons. JOHNSON pats
LITTLE NICKY on the back and with encouraging words sends him running on to
DETECTIVE JOHNSON: (To LITTLE NICKY) Beautiful. You got a
NICKY: (Voice-over) Ace got my son, little Nicky, involved with
Little League, and it was great.
DETECTIVE JOHNSON: Now, I want you to get out there and get me
singles and doubles, okay? 'Cause that's what's gonna win this
NICKY: (Voice-over) Turned out to be one of the other coaches was
a fuckin' . . .
DETECTIVE JOHNSON: Now go out there and show your dad what you
NICKY: (Voice-over) . . . metro intelligence cop. But it didn't
matter. I mean, it was all about the kids, you know.
DETECTIVE JOHNSON: You know, he's gotta realize everything can't
be a home run that he does.
NICKY: Yeah, well, that's exactly what I keep tellin' him, but
that's the kind of kid he is ever since he's born.
DETECTIVE JOHNSON: It's instinctive, you know.
NICKY: He tries to do everything . . .
(LITTLE NICKY hits the ball, NICKY and DETECTIVE JOHNSON
ACE: (Voice-over) And, Nicky being Nicky, he made his presence
INT. TANGIERS CASHIER'S CAGE CREDIT WINDOW - NIGHT
NICKY saunters through the casino and up to EDDY and JERRY, two
well-dressed hoods who are signing papers at the cashier's credit window
near ACE and SHERBERT.
ACE: (Voice-over) Especially at the casino, where he definitely
did not work, people got the message.
NICKY: (Voice-over) Me? That's why the bosses sent me out here.
They wanted me to make sure none of the other crews robbed the
joint. Like these two fuckin' balloon-heads over here [EDDY and
JERRY]. They were gonna try and bang us out of two hundred
(Chuckling.) Yeah, right, I'm sure.
JERRY (Shakes NICKY's hand) Hey, Nicky. How are you?
NICKY: Hey, Eddy.
EDDY: Hey, Nicky, how are you? What are you doin' here?
NICKY: I'm over here now.
JERRY/EDDY: (In unison) You're over here?
JERRY: You're over here?
NICY: Yeah, I'm over here with him.
(Swish pan to ACE with SHERBERT off to the side.)
EDDY: We're waiting on Carmine.
JERRY: Yeah, we're lookin' for Carmine.
NICKY: Carmine? He was here before. I saw him. He had a suitcase
and everything, and then he left.
EDDY: Carmine left?
JERRY: Carmine left?
EDDY: He's gone?
JERRY: He's not here?
EDDY: Carmine's gone.
NICKY: I think, you know, maybe he went across the street or
somewhere else or somethin'. I don't know.
EDDY: Well, listen, uh . . . good luck with the joint, huh?
(Shakes hands with NICKY.)
NICKY: Oh, thanks, Eddy.
JERRY: (Shakes NICKY's hand) Yeah, lots of luck. Lots of luck.
NICKY: Hey, great, Jerry.
(They walk away.)
Good luck to you too.
CREDIT CLERK: (To NICKY from behind the cage) Hey, they forgot to
sign their papers.
CREDIT CLERK: They forgot to sign their papers.
NICKY: Yeah, they don't need those anymore.
(He looks over to ACE and SHERBERT. NICKY smiles.)
ACE: (Voice-over) Out of respect, guys from other crews got away
with a warning.
(ACE taking a drag off his cigarette, nods an 'okay'.)
Everybody else: watch out.
INT. TANGIERS CASINO/BLACKJACK TABLES - DAY
A blackjack WINNER, who looks like a school teacher, with over $100,000 in
chips before him has gathered a crowd.
ACE: (Voice-over) Like these yokels here who never heard of Nicky
or the bosses back hime, 'cause they're the morons who give you
the most trouble. Even after we'd catch 'em, they'd try sneakin'
back with beards and wigs and fake noses.
(ACE and SHERBERT walk up to watch the WINNER who is playing all
six hands at the blackjack table.)
You can spot these assholes by watching the way they bet. Like
this guy. He's bettin' lavender chips at five hundred each with
only one little problem. He's always guessed right. If he wasn't
so fuckin' greedy, he'd have been tougher to spot. But in the
end, they're all greedy.
(ACE walks around the WINNER's table, past the crowd, to the pit.
Behind him are more blackjack tables, dealers and players. ACE
bends down and ties his shoelace.)
I saw that the dealer was weak, but he wasn't in on it.
(The DEALER's hands lift the corner of his hole card a half an
inch to determine the casino's hand against the WINNER. The
slightly exposed hole card is a six of clubs.)
He just wasn't protecting his hand. He was lifting his hole card
way to high.
(On ACE's face then to his POV of the card, past a PIT BOSS,
panning to the SIGNALLER at the blackjack table to the right. The
SIGNALLER is slumped down in his seat, tossing down some cards
and sneaking looks at the DEALER's hand at the WINNER's table.)
Now, here's this guy . . .
(Overhead pan from the SIGNALLER slumped in his seat.)
. . . reading the dealer's hole card . . .
(Pan continues past ACE to reveal the WINNER's table.)
. . . and signalling his buddy [the WINNER] at this table.
(Overhead dolly in on SIGNALLER who appears to be nervously
tapping his thigh. We see through his trousers, that he is
tapping a copper transmitter with a battery pack attached.
Back at the WINNER's table we see inside his pant leg where a
device strapped to his leg is receiving the impulse signal - buzz
- buzz - buzz - from the SIGNALLER.)
And that's just what these hustlers look for. They cruise from
casino to casino, lookin' for weak dealers the way lions look for
(ACE starts to get up.)
ACE: (Off-screen, from following scene) Operator?
INT. TANGIERS BLACKJACK TABLES/TELEPHONE - DAY
ACE is on the house phone right near the SIGNALLER's table.
ACE: This is Mr R. Get me Armstrong and Friday over at pit two
right away. (He hangs up, and fixes his tie in the mirrored panel
above the phone.)
(Overhead view of the SIGNALLER's table. Various security guards
slowly begin to gather around it.
ACE, waiting, lights a cigarette. ARMSTRONG joins ACE. They look
towards the SIGNALLER's table.)
(To ARMSTRONG) BJ nineteen, second base, the beard [Blackjack
table number 19, second position, man with the beard]
(ACE picks up the phone again.) Operator . . . I need Mr Happy,
(On ACE's signal, WAITRESSES, one carrying a cake with a
sparkling candle, start singing 'Happy Birthday', attracting the
WAITRESSES: (In unison) 'Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to
you. Happy Birthday, dear Jeff. Happy Birthday to you.'
(Gamblers cheer and applaud.
ACE nods and ARMSTRONG lets a long metal object drop out from
under his jacket sleeve and moves in close behind the SIGNALLER,
as though looking at the game. He presses the object - a cattle
prod - under the SIGNALLER's arm near his heart. The SIGNALLER
instantly goes into convulsions, falling to the floor gasping and
groaning. Several SECURITY GUARDS grab the SIGNALLER as he falls.
ARMSTRONG walks away.)
SECURITY GUARD #1: Man down!
(The WINNER sees what happened to his partner.)
Notify medical! We got a cardiac arrest here!
SECURITY GUARD #2: He's fine, folks. Just give us some room,
(ACE watches the scene. The guards lift the stunned SIGNALLER to
his feet and help him away from the table. Play is immediately
Watch it now.
(The WINNER hurriedly places his chips into racks.)
SECURITY GUARD #1: (Off-screen) Stand back!
ACE: (Voice-over) They never know what hit them. And if and when
. . .
(SECURITY GUARDS drag the SIGNALLER out.)
. . . they do find out they just got zapped by a cattle prod . .
(SHERBERT follows the WINNER as he rushes away.)
. . . they wish they really did have a heart attack.
(ACE exits behind the GUARDS and the SIGNALLER.)
INT. BASEMENT MAINTENANCE ROOM - NIGHT
A grim, windowless utility room with tools on racks along the walls, some
plain wooden chairs, and a workbench table.
ACE: (Voice-over) Turns out this guy and his fuckin' pals, they
were knockin' this place dead for years.
SECURITY GUARD #1: He's got a wire on him.
(The SIGNALLER is roughly shoved into the room. A SECURITY GUARD
tears his trousers down revealing the signalling device strapped
to his leg.)
SIGNALLER: Hey, hey, what are you doin', man?
SECURITY GUARD #2: (Exposing the device) There it is! On the
SECURITY GUARD #1: Cheater's justice!
(The SIGNALLER is slammed down face first on the bench and the
two GUARDS spread his arms out on the table.)
SIGNALLER: (In pain) Oh, God! Oh!
(Another GUARD starts up a power saw and approaches the SIGNALLER
who is now pinned to the table. He starts to scream.)
Hey, no! No! No!
(ACE walks toward the table, gesturing for the GUARD to turn off
ACE: (Voice-over) We had to make an example of these pricks that
the party was over.
ACE: (To relieved SIGNALLER) I'm just curious. I saw you
shuffling your checks with your right hand. Can you do that with
ACE: Can't do it with both hands?
SIGNALLER: No, Sir.
ACE: Can you do it with your left hand?
SIGNALLER: Well, I . . . I never tried.
ACE: So, you're a righty?
(ACE nods to one of the GUARDS. Instantly a large rubber mallet
smashes onto the man's right hand four times to the sound of
screams. ACE watches.)
ACE: Now, you're gonna have to learn with your left hand.
SIGNALLER: God! (He moans and sits back.)
WINNER: (Off-screen, from following scene) It's a hundred . . .
INT. CASINO CASHIER'S CAGE AREA - NIGHT
The WINNER has been standing outside the cashier's cage waiting for his
$110,000 in chips to be cashed. SHERBERT walks up behind him.
WINNER: . . . a hundred ten.
CASHIER: Yes, it is.
WINNER: I think.
SHERBERT: Hiya. That's a lot of money to be counting out in
SHERBERT: (To CASHIER) Why don't I take him over to the office
and verify it, huh?
SHERBERT: A little privacy. And, by the way, send over a . . .
nice bottle of champagne on ice, huh?
CASHIER: Sure will.
SHERBERT: Real special. Somethin' . . . (To WINNER.) By the way .
. . I'm Billy Sherbert, your casino manager.
(He shakes hands with the WINNER.)
SHERBERT: Having a good time?
(SHERBERT leads him away from the cage.)
WINNER: Yes, uh . . .
SHERBERT: You'll want to count the money in privacy. You know,
you don't need . . .
WINNER: Uh, I have a plane to catch to Cleveland . . . Can I get
INT. BASEMENT MAINTENANCE ROOM - NIGHT
The WINNER is pushed through the door by two GUARDS followed by SHERBERT
and sees his pal moaning in pain and holding his broken hand.
SIGNALLER: Look what they did to my hand, man!
ACE: (Walks over to the WINNER) All right, I'm gonna give you a
choice. You can either have the money and the hammer or you can
walk out of here. You can't have both. What do you want?
(SHERBERT stands next to the WINNER)
WINNER: I just wanna get out of here.
ACE: And don't forget to tell your friends what happens if they
fuck around in here. You understand?
WINNER: I'm sorry. I made a bad mistake.
ACE: You're fuckin' right, you made a bad mistake. 'Cause if you
come back here - we catch either one of you - we're gonna break
your fuckin' heads and you won't walk out of here. You see that
fuckin' saw? We're gonna use it. You don't fuck around in this
place. You got it?
ACE: Get out of here.
WINNER: Thank you.
(The GUARDS usher the WINNER out of the room.)
ACE: (To the GUARDS, referring to the SIGNALLER) Throw him out in
the alley. And just tell the cops he got hit by a car.
INT. ACE'S TANGIERS PENTHOUSE
ACE and GINGER are alone in the living room. The apartment looks out on the
glittering neon signs of the Strip.
ACE: (Voice-over) Within no time, everything was set in place. We
got rid of the freelance scamsters. The per was way up. The gods
were happy, or as happy as the gods can ever be. And I, I decided
to complicate my life. For a guy who likes sure things, I was
about to bet the rest of my life on a real longshot.
ACE: We're not getting any younger. Don't you think it's time?
Aren't you gettin' tired of all this shit? Bangin' around,
GINGER: What, are you trying to handicap me?
ACE: I'm gonna do you one better. I'm trying to marry you. You
want to marry me?
(GINGER looks doubtful.)
I'm serious. I mean, I - I want to settle down. I want a family.
GINGER: (Sighs, laughing) You got the wrong girl, Sam.
ACE: I know I'd be a good father. I know you'd be a good mother.
GINGER: You don't know me. What, you've known me, two, three
months. What do you know?
ACE: I'm forty-three years old. I don't want to wait. I know you
well enough to know that I really love you very much. And I can't
think of anybody better to be with. And I don't feel like waiting
GINGER: You know a lot of happily married people, Sam? 'Cause I
ACE: Yeah, I know all that.
GINGER: I care about you, a - But I just don't have those kind of
feelings for you. I'm sorry. I'm not in love with you.
ACE: (Brushing cigarette ash off his dressing gown) I - I - I . .
GINGER: Understand? (Pause) I'm sorry.
ACE: No, I - I . . . mean . . . that can grow as I - as long as
there's a mutual respect . . . that kind of thing can grow. I'm
realistic. I can accept that. But, you know, what is . . . what
is love anyway? It's a . . . it's a mutual respect. It's - it's a
devotion. It's a . . . it's a caring from one person to another.
And if we could set up some kind of foundation . . . based on
that mutual respect . . . I feel that eventually you would care
enough about me . . . that I could live with that.
GINGER: If it doesn't work out. You know, if it doesn't play out,
then what happens to me?
ACE: You know I'm doin' well now. And I'm gonna do even better.
And so, whatever happens, if it doesn't work out between us, I'm
gonna make sure you're okay for the rest of your life. And if
there are kids, especially, you know, I'll take care of you
better than you'd ever imagine.
GINGER: (Interrupts) What're you . . . what're you pitching me,
ACE: Just what I said. You'll be set up for the rest of your
life. That I can promise you. (Pause) Want to take a chance?
(She looks at him. ACE is holding her hand tightly.)
INT. RIVIERA BALLROOM MARRIGAGE - NIGHT
ACE and GINGER are seated at a banquet table with various guests, drinking
champagne. AMY, their six-month-old child is in a cradle. NICKY and
JENNIFER are hovering around the baby with LITTLE NICKY and are blissfully
happy. It is an elegant affair. City Officials, politicians and gaming
officials are there, plus, SHERBERT and Ace's boss, PHILIP GREEN. A
photographer takes pictures of the guests.
ACE: (Voice-over) When I married Ginger I knew all the stories,
but I didn't give a fuck. 'I'm Sam Rothstein,' I said. 'I can
NICKY: (Voice-over) It was typical Ace. He invited the biggest
people in town and he knew they'd show. Because he knew they all
wanted somethin' from hom. With Ace, nobody ever got a free ride.
Even Ginger. With her -
(We see AMY in the cradle.)
- he still covered his bets. They had to have the baby first,
before they got married. Even made Jennie and me watch Amy for a
few days when they went on their honeymoon. But I didn't mind, we
loved the kid.
(In slow motion camera moves in on ACE and GINGER, standing next
to a large wedding cake. They are kissing. NICKY, SHERBERT and
other guests look on. Camera moves in closer as they kiss, then
past them to the bride and groom figurines on the cake.
LESTER's and GINGER's telephone conversation is heard in
voice-over this scene.)
LESTER: (Over telephone) Can you feel my eyes on you? Can you
feel me look into your heart? Can you feel me in the pit of your
stomach? Can you feel me in you? In your heart?
(We see a wide view of the elaborate wedding, guests mill about
the banquet hall.)
Don't make me come there. Answer me.
GINGER: (Over telephone, sobbing) I love you.
INT. LESTER DIAMOND'S LOS ANGELES APARTMENT - NIGHT
LESTER DIAMOND is talking on the phone softly, cutting up cocaine on a
piece of glass.
LESTER: (Into telephone) Bu-but, baby, do you know that I love
GINGER: (Over telephone) No, Lester.
LESTER: (Into telephone) Do you know that?
GINGER: (Over telephone) Yeah. This is the best thing I can do
for my life right now.
LESTER: (Into telephone) That's right.
INT. RIVIERA BALLROOM CORRIDOR - NIGHT
GINGER is sitting alone on the phone. She's crying.
LESTER: (Over telephone) So, it's gonna be okay, isn't it?
GINGER: (Sobbing, into telephone) Promise?
LESTER: (Over telephone) God . . . I wish you . . .