Robert De Niro as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, Vegas casino executive and mob associate
Las Vegas, Summer 1977
Release Date: November 22, 1995
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Rita Ryack & John A. Dunn
By the mid-1970s, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal appeared to have it all. Having tried his hardest to leave his mob affiliations behind him back east, he was now running the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with a beautiful ex-showgirl wife and a massive wardrobe pull of bespoke suits and sport coats.
Unfortunately, his mob affiliations were chasing him to Vegas in the form of vicious Chicago enforcer Tony “the Ant” Spilotro; he still didn’t have a license to legally be managing his casino; and his troubled wife Geri was still in contact with her shitty ex, Lenny Marmor.
Twenty years later, Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi teamed up to tell Lefty’s life story, starring De Niro as Lefty’s cinematic counterpart Sam “Ace” Rothstein. Tony Spilotro, Geri Rosenthal, and Lenny Marmor became Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), Ginger Rothstein (Sharon Stone), and Lester Diamond (James Woods). One scene in the film depicts a real-life incident where Ace tracked down his wife handing a stack of cash to her ex-lover in a Vegas diner. Ace saunters in, tossing a matching stack of cash on the table before threatening Lester’s life. Lester takes the hint and scrapes up his dignity before swaggering outside, where he is beaten and left in his blue ’76 Eldorado.
What’d He Wear?
Ace knows what’s going to happen before he even enters the diner, and he dresses to convey confidence and power. It takes a confident man to wear a white suit at all, and the red shirt and tie evokes the blood that will be spilled that day… and both Ace and Lester know it’s not going to be Ace’s blood.
Ace wears an ivory Western-styled two-piece suit. The Western styling is most evident on the pinch-back jacket with pointed “V” chest yokes that wrap over the shoulders to form a center pointed “V” in the back. Below that rear point is the single pleat that gives the “pinch-back” jacket its moniker. The pleat extends down to the half-belted back. Below the back is a long single rear vent that falls on the same vertical axis as the pinch-back pleat.
The front of the jacket is single-breasted with two steel buttons. The inset hip pockets close with a steel button on a “V”-pointed flap that matches the chest yokes above them. The three buttons on each cuff are the same flat-faced steel as the buttons on the front and on the pockets.
Ace’s matching suit trousers are flat front with an extended waistband tab that closes on the right with a concealed hook. Not much else is seen of the trousers, but they have a large fit and flared bottoms.
Ace provides a strong contrast against his ivory suit by wearing a dark red silk shirt, one of the many manufactured for the movie by Anto. It is styled like the rest of his super-’70s shirts with a large point collar and the distinctive Lapidus-invented tab cuffs that close on a single button. This was a very popular cuff style in the late ’70s and even made its way on to a few of the Frank Foster-made shirts for Roger Moore as James Bond in films like Moonraker.
Due to both being made for the film by Anto, the wide silk necktie he wears is the same shade of dark red as the shirt, a monochromatic palette that gained a brief revival in the early 2000s when Regis Philbin started his own clothing line after his matching metallic shirts and ties on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? evidently resonated with audiences.
Ace would later wear this same shirt and tie combination when he escorts Ginger to dinner after she attempted to kidnap their daughter and run off with Lester. Perhaps he wears the same shirt and tie as a subtle reminder for Ginger as to what he was wearing the last time he caught her with Lester? (For the later dinner scene, he wears a blue and green plaid suit.)
We don’t see Ace’s footwear at all during this scene, and I would suspect that he would be sporting one of his many pairs of white shoes. However, the now-popular poster that includes an artistic rendering of all the suits De Niro wears in Casino shows him wearing a pair of dark red shoes that would match his shirt and tie. While this may just be artistic license, part of me wonders if artist Ibraheem Youssef knows something I don’t…
There’s much less ambiguity with Ace’s ever-present gold accessories, expressly chosen in this scene to match his red shirt and tie. His flat gold wristwatch has a plain red dial on the rectangular case and is fastened to his right wrist by a gold link bracelet. This may be one of the vintage Bueche Girod watches contributed to the production.
On the pinky of his same hand, Ace wears a 14-carat yellow gold ring with a ruby stone. Again, Bvlgari showed up plenty as the provider of Ginger’s jewelry, but I still haven’t received any confirmation as to who made De Niro’s many rings.
Go Big or Go Home
What’s a classic diner without doo wop on the jukebox, right? This scene is scored by The Velvetones’ 1957 version of “The Glory of Love”, a nice juxtaposition to the three people who are being ravaged by love rather than feeling its “glory”; Ace is betrayed, Ginger is conflicted, and Lester just gets his ass beaten.
The song had been written more than 20 years earlier by Billy Hill when it became an instant hit for Benny Goodman and his Orchestra – with Helen Ward on vocals – in May 1936. Coincidentally enough, the real Geri McGee Rosenthal was born in 1936!
How to Get the Look
Ace’s outfit is a strange combination that blends gangster style with the cowboy influence that was present when Vegas was initially founded.
- Ivory Western-styled suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted pinch-back jacket with edge-stitched notch lapels, 2-button front (steel buttons), pointed-flap hip pockets (w/ steel button closure), 3-button cuffs (steel buttons), and pleated half-belt back with single rear vent
- Flat front trousers with extended waistband tab and flared bottoms
- Dark red silk Anto dress shirt with large point collar, front placket, and 1-button “Lapidus” tab squared cuffs
- Dark red silk Anto necktie
- Yellow gold wristwatch with a rectangular case, red dial, and flat link bracelet
- Yellow gold 14-carat pinky ring with ruby stone
If you want to wear a white suit in Vegas but this ain’t your cup of tea, check out Rusty Ryan’s white striped ensemble from Ocean’s Thirteen.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
From my recollection, aren’t you the card shark, the golf hustler, the pimp from Beverly Hills? If I’m wrong, please correct me ’cause I never knew you to be a heist man. But if you are, you know what? Here, take mine too. Go ahead, take it, ’cause you already have hers… But if you ever come back again – ever – to take her money, next time bring a pistol. That way you got a chance. Be a man, don’t be a fucking pimp. Now, you wanna do me a favor? Get outta here. I wanna be alone with my wife. Get up and get outta here.