Joe Pesci is one of America’s most well-known actors. He’s appeared in numerous films that people often refer to as classics, especially between the 80s and 90s. Films he has starred in include Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Raging Bull, Lethal Weapon 2, 3 and 4. The American is also a singer, musician and comedian. He has released a couple of music album’s over the years and actually announced he was retiring from acting in 1999 to pursue success in music and to enjoy life away from the big screen.
Many films based on casinos and gambling have been made over the last 3 decades and it feels like Joe Pesci has been in most of them. He has played a lot of tough, hard man, gangster roles and this seemed to be a natural fit for him. Most of his characters were seen as bad sorts or they weren’t exactly angels, put it that way. Another side of the characters that he played was a lot of them seemed to like to gamble. Be it card games or casinos, it seemed to be a common theme with some characters Pesci played and how he came across in the rules meant he was pretty well suited to this style too.
The classic film Casino saw Pesci star alongside Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 box office hit. The film, as you would have guessed, is all about Las Vegas casinos. It sees the sort of mob involvement that took place in the casino world of the 1970s and 1980s. De Niro a top gambling handicapper who oversees the running and day to day operations of the casino in Las Vegas, while Pesci plays the hard man enforcer role, the heavy, as you would expect. This was one of Pesci’s most memorable roles which highlights the very best of him, which how he naturally managed to make his character intriguing, funny and violent all at the same time.
Goodfellas is another film that saw Pesci and Robert De Niro link up once again, under the direction of Martin Scorsese. It’s a crime film that was nominated for and won numerous awards over the years and many people rate it as one of the best films of all time. The film is crime based but again there is a natural tendency for these types of film to include gambling and parts of the film which have guys gambling or playing cards for money.
De Niro is seen at one stage having to collect a debt from a gambler in Florida but is caught and arrested by the FBI, landing him in prison. There’s also the famous scene in the film where Pesci, who played Tommy, is playing cards before he outrageously shoots a teenage boy, Spider after being offended by the lad’s comments.
My Cousin Vinny
My Cousin Vinny sees Pesci star in a comedy about two New Yorkers, Billy and Stan, who are arrested for a murder they did not commit. A store clerk of a shop they just visited is murdered and they are the ones held responsible and it’s up to a rookie lawyer and his comical approach to save them.
This film yet again sees Pesci in a comedy role but yet again there’s gambling taking place. Pesci, who plays the rookie lawyer and gets roped in to get the two lads (one of whom was his cousin) off of the murder charge they have wrongly been put on. In one of the most remembered scenes of the film, he meets his cousin in prison and explains how he would prove their innocence. The interesting part of this scene was that Pesci just happened to have a pack of playing cards in his jacket pocket, which he then used to illustrate his general strategy.
The article was written in co-operation with Paul Louw