Considered by many to be “the” best living director, the master Martin Scorsese ends today, November 17, 78 years of existence. Long live this brilliant artist. It is not easy to acquire such status, especially in a market as competitive as the Hollywood industry. Especially since most of his films are recommended for adults, with heavy censorship – especially due to violence.
Very associated with mafia films and criminal works, Scorsese is a versatile filmmaker, who has already ventured into period dramas, productions for the whole family and even comedies (black humor of course). Not to mention his countless documentaries, some involving rock musicians, see The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Owner of 66 credits as a director (including episodes of TV series, short films, music videos, documentaries and, of course, fictional feature films), 77 credits as a producer, 17 as a screenwriter , 14 Oscar nominations (adding up as producer, screenwriter and director) and a victory for the direction of Os Infiltrados (2006) – which is a consolation prize -, Martin Scorsese has long carved his name in the annals of the history of the seventh art.
To pay homage to this true living legend of world cinema, who has no intention of resting so soon (currently with 5 projects in development), we decided to create a different story. The aim here is to shed light on the lesser-known films in Scorsese’s program as a director. Those who, unlike icons like Taxi Driver, Indomitable Bull, The Good Companions, and Island of Fear, for example, are hardly ever mentioned when it comes to the director. With that in mind, let’s get to know or recall the less famous Martin Scorsese films.
Who is knocking on my door?
Released in 1967, it is the first feature film (non-documentary) of the career of Martin Scorsese. Independent and experimental, filmed in black and white, the production has its own script, and yes, it has already had a participation (which made it usual) of Catherine Scorsese, the mother of the filmmaker – a real Jorge Fernando from the USA. The cast also has Harvey Keitel, who would become a regular collaborator, with. The actor saw an unoccupied young man with strong Catholic convictions, who believed in the virginity of marriage. He meets and falls in love with a young woman. But a revelation from her about her past will change the whole dynamic of their relationship.
Sexy and marginal
According to the director’s second feature film, the film was released in the early 1970s, in 1972. This time, Scorsese chose to adapt author Ben L. Reitman’s book for cinema, a work whose plot resembles to Bonnie’s criminal misadventures. Clyde, but this is also based on a true story. Set during the Great Depression in the 1930s, Barbara Hershey is the protagonist as Bertha – the main character in the production. With her partner, a union leader lived by David Carradine, she unleashes a wave of crimes like revenge against businessmen who own a railroad.
Gradually, Scorsese was becoming the Scorsese we know and love today. Here in his third film, we really get the first roundup of everything that would define his filmography. From the scenario tackling the criminal underworld (even if it is still small fish) signed by himself, the partnership with people like Robert De Niro (in his first collaboration together) and Harvey Keitell, and the unique atmosphere tension and realism that only the filmmaker knows how to apply to the films of “humanized bandits”.
Alice doesn’t live here
Scorsese’s fourth film hit theaters in 1974. This time the director took a break from the criminal theme to focus on a beautiful story from a dramatic novel. The main character Alice is a recently widowed woman who hits the road with her grandson trying to give him a better life. She gets a job as a waitress, but her real goal is to become a singer. Along the way, meet a man who can change his routine. It was Scorsese’s first Oscar entry, as the film won nominations for Supporting Actress (Diane Ladd) and Screenplay (Robert Getchell), and won the Leading Actress Award to Ellen Burstyn ( who was not present at the ceremony, with the director receiving the statuette in his name). In fact, the feature film was so successful that it spawned a television series released two years later, lasting no less than 9 seasons until 1985.
New York, New York
Here, in 1977, Martin Scorsese was already a well-known face and associated with the counter-culture that had invaded Hollywood in the 70s, within the revolutionary generation – which had influence and who spoke very well with the cinema. European. The director had already launched, for example, Taxi Driver, a turning point for the time, nominated for 4 Oscars, including that of best film, and still considered one of the best films in the history of cinema. Where to go after that? Scorsese responds. With a musical comedy lasting almost 3 hours, which brings together De Niro and Liza Minnelli as saxophonist and egocentric singer, owners of a troubled relationship. Although little appreciated in its release, the feature received 4 Golden Globe nominations and its biggest legacy is the theme song composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb, for Minnelli. The song, of course, not long after (in 1979) would be immortalized in the voice of Frank Sinatra, becoming much more famous than the film itself.
Here, in 1985, Scorsese had already released the prestigious Indomitable Bull and cult The King of Comedy (The Joker of the 1980s). The option was again for a minor work, the first (error) comedy of his career. Without forgetting the content of black humor, and allusions to dramatic and criminal elements. Scorsese has always been closely associated with the urban New York theme, launched by Taxi Driver. And here he takes us to the dawn of the city he knows better than anyone. A simple, simple executive (role of Griffin Dunne) decides to embrace his “wild side” by agreeing to a date with a girl he meets in a coffee maker. For that, he needs to “travel” to a side of the city that he doesn’t know very well, Soho, the “alternative” arts district of the Big Apple. It should also be borne in mind that this is the New York of the 80s, before the zero tolerance policy imposed by then mayor Rudolph Giuliani. In other words, it was a dangerous place, dominated by crime. Which means the protagonist will have the worst night of his life.
The color of silver
Here is a special case. Released the following year after After Hours, we can say that it is the first sequel directed by Martin Scorsese, although most are not aware of it. It is not, however, the sequel to a director’s film, but rather a late sequel to Robert Rossen’s The Hustler, 1961, nominated for 9 Oscars including Best Picture. Twenty-five years later, the same Paul Newman returns to ‘Fast’ character Eddie Felson, this time in a tumultuous relationship with a potential student (role of star Tom Cruise) and his girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) for a new betting trick and cheat on a pool table. With Scorsese at the wheel, Newman ultimately won the Oscar as a character, and the film was nominated for three more Oscars, including the supporting role for Mastrantonio.
New York Tales
As said, Scorsese has become synonymous with urban movies set in New York City, so this collection couldn’t leave it out. Besides the director, the film’s proposal was to launch three filmmakers very associated with the city that never sleeps to make micro stories in an anthology. It’s almost like a predecessor of the New York franchise, I Love You (2008). Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola complete the famous crack in charge of subplots. The story of Scorsese is, of course, the deepest and darkest. And he talks about the obsession of an artist (Nick Nolte) with his assistant (Rosanna Arquette).
Age of innocence
As mentioned, Scorsese also has his versatile and sensitive side, and although he remained in New York, he decided in 1993 to travel back in time to the 19th century to examine the behavior of the bourgeoisie of the time. Based on novelist Edith Wharton’s book, the film tackles topics such as arranged marriages, repressed desires and passions, and the place of women in society at the time. For the contract, a real time is chosen by the filmmaker. For the lead role, a young lawyer, we have none other than Daniel Day-Lewis, in one of his more understated but no less impressive performances. The very talented Michelle Pfeiffer saw a divorced woman (something scandalous for the time), cousin of the main character’s bride, for whom he developed a strong attraction. In the role of the promised young girl, Winona Ryder, then considered the best actress of her generation. The result? Five Oscar nominations, including for Ryder, and the costume victory.
As much as he is remembered as an urban filmmaker, Scorsese is a citizen of the world, passionate about all cultures, the arts and, of course, cinema across the world. So even though he was a very successful director at this point, he continued to take risks in his career and accept new challenges. Thus, in 1997, without any known name in front of the camera, the director decides to tell the life, from childhood to adulthood, of the fourteenth spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. The filmmaker left the experience with four new Oscar nominations.
Living on the edge
Nicolas Cage was not always Nicolas Cage. Before, he was Nicolas Cage. Translation: Before countless bad movies went straight to video, the actor was a massive Hollywood star, Oscar winner and owner of a second nomination. The 90s were its golden phase. So it is clear that Scorsese wanted to work with Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. And the project chosen by the two was this adaptation of the book by Joe Connelly which behaves like a taxi driver in an ambulance. Cage is the current Travis Bickle, a paramedic literally on the edge of his sanity, operating at dawn and seeing all manner of “beings”, “creatures” and even ghosts in the worst places in town.
Don’t you think that only the initial work of a director like Scorsese falls into obscurity. One only needs to watch one of the filmmaker’s most recent films (in fact, his penultimate) to realize how unknown he is to much of the public. Perhaps because of the difficult subject, since it talks about two Portuguese Jesuit priests (played by Americans) traveling to 17th century feudal Japan to find their mentor and spread Catholicism. In the cast a heavy trio: Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield. Despite the director’s name, Academy voters also seem to have ignored the feature, only stating it in the photography category. And did you know that Scorsese movie?
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