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A look at the evening with Martin Scorsese in New York!

Hey folks, Harry here with a report from Omac on an evening lecture/talk given by Martin Scorsese with former New York Times critic Janet Maslin. I love getting reports like these on lectures and talks by people that attend events like these. It is interesting and fascinating to hear a bit about an event that so many of us would have loved to have been at. Here ya go...

Hi Harry,

I’m a long time visitor to AICN but this is the first time I’ve checked in with a report:

Sunday night attended a talk/lecture/Q& A with Martin Scorsese at the Manhattan branch of CUNY on east 34th street, just down the block from The Empire State Building and about 21/2 miles from where The World Trade Towers used to stand. The event was chaired by former New York Times film critic, Janet Maslin. During the 90 minute program the great director came across as a wonderfully personable fellow who seems completely comfortable rambling his obsessions before a live audience. I would guess one might even learn more about the man from viewing him in this setting than spending a week with him alone. The evening was part of a series presenting artists whos work is directly involved with the city. Scorsese remarked on a wide variety of topics, which I would think any admirer of the man, would find insightful, interesting and informative.

On Gangs Of New York:

Scorsese skipped across the nearly thirty years of trying to get this project off the ground starting in the mid 70s (when the studio then related it to The Molly Maguires, which had flopped), he tried in the early 80s and again after Goodfellas. He said that sets that were built for the film were on a scope that may never happen again and that this was the last of the movies he’d really wanted to make throughout his career.


Marty said the culture of the city had been altered by last September but he didn’t say if he felt it had been direly harmed. He pulled some crumpled lists from his jacket pocket ambled through them, describing a dozen or more New York movies (almost all from before 1965 – except for Allen’s Manhattan – which he fells is the best postcard of the city ever) that had influenced his filmic development:

Hat Full Of Rain

Force Of Evil

Naked City

A movie with Ray Milland (The Thief?) that has no talking(!) (HARRY HERE: Yes, that was THE THIEF, a bloody brilliant film btw!)

The early scenes in North By Northwest


Of his own NYC films MS says he’s most fond of Raging Bull because it recreates his old hangouts.

On Taxi Driver:

In the early 70s, when it looked liked studio backing for Taxi Driver might not materialize, MS said he’d considered shooting the movie on black and white video. When the film began shooting the producers where still considering the idea that it might be released s an X rated film (following in the steps of the Oscar winning Midnight Cowboy) and so the violence at the end was presented so graphically. Scorsese said some of the people he’d worked with at the time came to him when the film was being prepared for laser disk and asked if he’s like to restore the original color to the final sequences (which were eventually bleached out to get an R rating) but he told them that he had no interest in endlessly tinkering.

During the question and answer portion a guy got up and asked Scorsese if he’s like to do a sequel. The guy then started imagining (aloud) a middle aged Travis driving through streets in his cab—MS mercifully cut the guy off with a smile and remarked that this was really in Paul Schrader’s hands.

Films over the years:

Scorsese remarked on how he felt today’s film are much more plot driven than when he came up in the 70s. He spoke briefly on how Heaven’s Gate had created a sea change in what and who propelled projects in LA. He spoke of how he left LA and came back to NYC after this occurred. He mentioned he felt parts of Heaven’s Gate were very good. He said he’s anguished over the culture of film in the late 80s and early 90s but feels we are now at least beginning to move in some interesting new directions (although he seemed to have some guarded reservation about digital video).

Odds and ends:

MS admitted to being a little fractured in organizing his work over the years. He recalled pissing Jerry Lewis off a bit during the shooting of The King Of Comedy by keeping him waiting around and then never getting to him.

He said that shooting for Corman forced him to learn initial organization he would not have been able to go forward without. vAll in all he didn’t sound like he likes watch his own films much (or at all), which I found a little sad.

He looked pained while discussing The Last Temptation Of Christ and said that this had been his most difficult shoot (“It rained all the time and I got almost nothing everyday”). Janet Maslin, who’ll forever be remembered for panning Dawn Of The Dead after watching only ten minutes of it, cut Marty off here and lost us some insightful shit.

On today’s tunes:

MS said he’s really lost touch with modern pop and that the last bands he took to heart would be The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

How he got to be “Martin Scorsese”:

The man stated quite eloquently that he believes the people who will succeed are those driven by personal vision and obsession. He spoke of when he stated making film in the early 60 and everybody thought he was crazy and how he didn’t really see any way to get where he wanted to be --- but he just kept going.

Thanks -- OMAC

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