Happy Birthday Martin Scorcese

How apropos that the New Beverly/Grindhouse Film Festival presented a Roberta Collins double-feature to honor her birthday memory (and Clu Gulager who was in his usual seat) and that the first film, THE UNHOLY ROLLERS (1972), happened to be edited by none other than Martin Scorcese in his Roger Corman toiling days. What’s fascinating about this raw, rough, roller derby exploitationer is that Scorcese’s editing fingers are so dominant all over the movie. From the rock n’ roll music montages to the clever voice-overs with kinetic footage used to show, not tell, his unique editing stands out in this rarely screened AIP drive-in standard. Alongside that you have the luscious 70’s exploitation queen Claudia Jennings skating her way to Hell with a team of cruel misfits. I could go on about MEAN STREETS or TAXI DRIVER — I prefer THE KING OF COMEDY myself — but I think Marty would dig a shout-out for his B-Movie backlot razzle-dazzle…Salud!


12 Responses to “Happy Birthday Martin Scorcese”

  1. martin & thelma sitting in a tree

    (sorry, that’s way lame. i blame the mention of editing (and a few beers). when i think of martin s i think of thelma s; has there been a longer, more consistent or fruitful professional collaboration of director and editor?)

    my all time fave scorsese (and one of my fave movies ever full stop) is ‘after hours’. i have loved many martin movies in my day but never as long or as well as the misadventures of paul hackett

  2. AFTER HOURS is good but I’d hafta go with MEAN STREETS if only for the “what’s a mook?” scene. Cracks me up every time.

  3. Tried to watch TAXI DRIVER to celebrate, but the film, masterful as it is, just bums me out. Still disturbing after all these years. But I savor the shot of Travis Bickle’s cab passing a 42st street marquee for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and RETURN OF THE DRAGON.

    I was going to watch AFTER HOURS, but I honestly don’t care for it except for certain scenes (Teri Garr). Honestly, much as I love Scorcese as an Artist and Cinephile, I’m not that into his films. Blaspheme, but there you go. Instead, I watched a pretty good Starz documentary on editing called THE CUTTING EDGE. Marty and Thelma are in there. Check it out.

    • “Honestly, much as I love Scorcese as an Artist and Cinephile, I’m not that into his films. Blaspheme, but there you go.”

      you know, after thinking about that a bit i think i may understand where you’re coming from, christian. ‘after hours’ is the only scorsese flick i find really emotionally engaging on a personal level, as strange as that may sound for as strange a movie as it is; dunne’s paul hackett just sucks me in from first to last and i’m totally on board with him.

      but with most of scorsese’s films i feel like i’m on the outside looking in on some fascinating alien realm to which i really can’t relate but find quite intriguing. i enjoying watching his work but i don’t necessarily connect or feel it in my bones; scorsese’s sensibility causes some weird detachment in me that puzzlingly doesn’t prevent me from digging many of the stories he tells; i can’t think of any other film-maker about which i can honestly say that

      • sorry, “about WHOM i can honestly say that” . grammar brain fart

        (copied from below, i must have clicked on the wrong ‘reply’)

  4. I can’t relate to you people at ALL then. Maybe it’s a lapsed Catholic thing, or an East Coast thing, or a hot-tempered blowhard thing, but Scorsese movies (and Abel Ferrara’s and Spike Lee’s) come about as close as possible to representing my tortured psychology —

    The rage, the neuroses about women, the fake bluster, the obsession with urban, the street, violence, the repression followed by blasts of cathartic exertion, the virgin-whore complex, sex being always on the mind despite having it ingrained that it is the most evil thing imaginable, the nervousness and discomfort with women, the late nights, the boozing, the insecurities and ambitions.

    I’ve seen TAXI DRIVER 100 times, easily, and that “God’s lonely man” shit is about as close as a movie has EVER hit home (obviously I’m a giant pussy and doughy suburban dweeb and not a violent urban vigilante), but I guess bully for you if it’s not something you can relate to. Scorsese’s movies are about the electric, forbidden charge of nighttime and sleaze and violence and the streets, things that are a lot more fucking exciting if you’re told from birth (and believe for years with utmost conviction) that your VERY SOUL WILL BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY for looking sideways at a woman’s breast, that you need to hate yourself for feeling natural impulses.


  5. sorry, “about WHOM i can honestly say that” . grammar brain fart

  6. lex, i understand what you’re saying but ‘taxi driver’ is only one of scorsese’s many movies and personally i think you’re overstating the violence/sleaze/street themes as defining of scorsese’s sensibility, considering his movies range in tone and genre (tho i certainly think he has devoted most of his work to exploring the meaning of manhood, the strengths and weaknesses and expectations and fragility of the male psyche. perhaps if i were a man i’d have a better shot at connecting to the scorsese sensibility, but oddly i don’t seem to have any problems relating emotionally to tortured male psyches or violence or sleaze or the street as presented by many other male directors, there’s just something in the way scorsese approaches and films his material that causes a subtle disconnect for me, even when i find his movies compelling. i wish i could pinpoint and explain exactly what causes this emotional aloofness, i think i’d have to sit down and watch several of his films with a fresh eye to even attempt to put my finger on it

  7. Well, Scorsese has done some female-friendly/relatable fare as well. I would recommend checking out ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE and AGE OF INNOCENCE, both excellent films where he keeps the tortured male psyche thing in check.

  8. Leah, I think you put your finger on it in terms of a “disconnect” from character or metaphysics. I find the folks in MEAN STREETS, TAXI DRIVER, GOODFELLAS, CASINO to be basically scumbags. And while there’s an Art to that examination, I’m removed since I don’t feel the kinship or fascination that Scorcese, born of that world, feels. I was born in New York, have a Catholic background tho thank God no Catholic indoctrination. But I understand the drama of the church and what it must represent to Scorcese.

    In the end, I find his films to vaguely lionize creeps like Henry Hill in GOODFELLAS, a bullying FIGHT CLUB macho esthetic that doesn’t turn me on and in the end I find regressive. Gender probably has little to do with it since Kim Morgan could probably write a breathless treatsie on Women Who Love Scorcese Men.

    But JD is right, he does have a female bias that shows in ALICE — tho again, the most intense alive scene in the film is with Keitel’s psycho control freak — and he really transforms in KUNDUN.

    Maybe that’s why THE KING OF COMEDY is my favorite Scorcese. Not only do you have the trifecta of him, De Niro, AND Jerry Lewis, you get one of the most revealing glimpses at the levels of show biz delusion and desperation. AND Jerry Lewis holding more than his own with De Niro. I also think itr’s De Niro’s best performance since his character is wholly unlike any other he’s played. AND Jerry Lewis.

    Abel Ferrara I find unwatchable, his sweaty East Side heroin Catholic angst almost a parody…

  9. i’ve seen both ‘alice’ and ‘age of innocence’ (‘innocence’ just recently as a matter of fact on cable), and while i do relate better emotionally to alice – perhaps having seen it first as a child makes it more accessible, connected to memories of time and place – ‘age of innocence’ still has that particular scorsese aloofness that prevents me from really connecting with the characters (even the women), tho i can’t fault the perfs and i find michelle in particular quite engaging as m. olenska

  10. I felt like I was watching AGE OF INNOCENCE under glass.

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