I’ve watched the Godfather saga many times.
It is very difficult to pick a favorite supporting character from an ensemble cast which is still, in my view, the strongest ever assembled.
One of my personal favorites was Alex Rocco, who played the irascible Moe Green, a Las Vegas casino owner whose character was inspired by Bugsy Siegel.
Alex Rocco passed away at his home in Studio City over the weekend.
A movie about Moe would have made a worthwhile spinoff project – a no-nonsense casino operator with ties to the mob, trying to run an efficient business while balancing the demands of the bosses with the requirements of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
But we did get a spinoff of sorts.
It was Casino. with the role of the casino operator played by Robert De Niro, another of the Godfather saga’s memorable supporting actors.
De Niro’s character in Casino, Sam “Ace” Rothstein, was also based on an actual person – Frank Rosenthal.
The contrast in management styles between Greene (Rocco) and Rothstein (De Niro) would be worthy of a Harvard Business School case study.
Greene’s unabashed tirade about why he slapped Michael Corleone’s brother, Fredo, in front of the casino’s patrons is 180 degrees from Rothstein’s measured defense of his firing of an incompetent brother-in-law of a gaming commissioner.
The results speak for themselves – Rothstein lived a long life; Moe was shot through the eye by a Corleone family hitman while enjoying a massage.