Watch and Read the "Meeting in the Desert" Scene from ‘Casino’

'Casino'Credit: Universal Pictures
Nothing good can come out of meeting someone in the desert a hundred yards off the main road.

Gangster films have always been a part of my life. My dad would have a gangster movie on whenever he took his Sunday afternoon nap, or my grandma had one playing while she sewed away on her quilt or made dinner.

No matter whose house I was at, The Godfather, Bugsy, or American Gangster was on in one of the rooms, and I'd always stop what I was doing to watch it. 

But one film that I loved watching was Martin Scorsese’s Casino. One of the many reasons I was infatuated with the film was because of my grandparents' love for Las Vegas. I watched anything and everything that took place in Las Vegas. Another reason I would find myself watching Casino was because of how strong the dynamic was between each character.

Watch this scene between Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and tell me that their interaction isn’t everything and more: 

Read the entire script to Casino here.

It is amazing to see how closely the final scene matches Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese’s final script. De Niro's and Pesci's performances bring the intensity of the argument to life. De Niro’s cool demeanor contrasts with Pesci’s fury, and the camera's contrasting angle to show who has the power in the scene builds the tension for the audience. Viewers don’t know how this conversation is going to end.

Truth be told, Pesci’s character controls the scene in its entirety, and the script showcases this with how often Santoro cuts Ace off mid-sentence. 

These two characters are constantly bouncing off of each other as they gain more power and slowly lose it over the years. It changes their relationship with one another, and arguments like these feel like turning points in their stories. 

Writing dynamic characters can be a challenge, but focus on how a character’s wants are at play with another character’s wants. Even knowing how these characters would argue with each other and where they would do it reveals a character’s emotional state and intentions. Dialogue can reveal so much about a character’s relationship with others. 

What are some of your favorite moments from Casino? Let us know in the comments why you love that particular moment!      

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