Whip It by DEVO is kind of an odd song to use in Casino since it came out in 1980 and the time period of the movie was in the 1970’s. Of course that’s rarely an issue when a piece of music fits so well with a movie, like this one did. In the movie at the point the song is being played though things are anything but perfect. The move out to Vegas for Sam Rothstein, or Ace as everyone calls him, went great. He was given the authority over the Tangiers Casino and in almost no time managed to double the profits and make the place a respectable gambling establishment. But he had a lot to deal with on the way to success and part of it was that he didn’t have a gaming license to work with.
To make matters worse Nicky Santoro, an old friend of Ace’s and a mob enforcer, was sent out west to make sure that no one messed with Ace and that the casino was run the way it should. The only problem with this arrangement is that Nicky is kind of like a vicious attack dog, so long as they’re on a leash and not being provoked in any way they’re fine. But once they’re off that leash and don’t have anyone watching them, all bets are off. It wasn’t too long before Nicky started doing his own thing throughout the film and only checking in with the bosses every now and then to avoid being targeted because of his behavior. But when his illicit activities started to cause trouble for Ace then things started getting out of control. Sam did what he could to stay in charge of the casino, but his history with Nicky was the one stumbling block that fouled him up at every turn.
It only got worse from there too. Nicky got wind that Sam was complaining to the bosses back home about how hard he was making it for him to run the casino and didn’t appreciate it one bit. Somehow Nicky got it in his head that he was the big shot in Vegas and that it was his time now, meaning that the only rules he had to follow were his own, and occasionally those of the bosses when they called. But he saw Sam’s attempt to go over his head as a huge insult and it eventually put a wedge in their friendship that became a yawning chasm that couldn’t be closed for anything. In the nightclub scene, following the epic rant that ended with Nicky stating that he’d put Sam in a hole in the desert if he went over his head again, Nicky, Frankie, and Dominick are sitting at a table drinking and smoking when Sam and his entourage come walking into the same establishment.
Despite his claims to the contrary it’s pretty obvious that Nicky is very bothered by Sam’s refusal to acknowledge him when their eyes meet. Of course if most other people were Same they might have never brought Nicky out to Vegas in the first place.
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