Martin Scorsese's guilty pleasures

labradford

来自: labradford 2010-02-01 21:28:15

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  • labradford

    labradford 2010-02-01 21:29:31

    Play Dirty (1969, Andre de Toth). In the opening sequence, Michael Caine is driving a dead body on a jeep, and there's Italian march music on the soundtrack. Right away you know you're in for something unique. Play Dirty isn't a sadistic film, but it's mean. The characters have no redeeming social value, which I love. In one sequence, they pretend to be Italian soldiers to fool some Arabs; one of the Arabs spots something on them, so they take their guns and shoot all the Arabs. They don't think, they just act. They have a job to do, and they're going to do it. The nihilism, the pragmatism -- it's frightening.

    Twelve O'Clock High (1949, Henry King). I know all about Gregory Peck, don't read any further, Gregory Peck is Gregory Peck, when he's in a film you accept it for what it is, it's a given, like a theorem in geometry, okay, Gregory Peck. But here he's a man in war, dealing with his conscience and his fears. You figure, this guy's so tough he can take anything. But then comes the moment when he has to get into the bomber, and the machismo breaks down. He can't get in the plane. And I love it. The movie deals with a man of war on the human level. Because this guy can't take anything. That's the point. That's why he's so tough.

    In Harm's Way (1965, Otto Preminger). The ships are out there in the Pacific at night, and the combination of image and music gave the scene a foreboding, a danger, a horror of the war. Until finally everything explodes in the last battle sequence: glass starts to break on the bridge, and it's frightening the way it intrudes on your privacy. John Wayne is the complete American in the film: they ask him if he'd like a scotch, and he says, "No, a Coca-Cola."

    MUSIC and COMEDY

    Lady in the Dark (1944, Mitchell Leisen). Leisen went all out here. The whole film is so vulgar and outrageous, there's got to be something to it. The dime-store psychology is ridiculous, of course, but the dream sequences are marvelous kitsch. I love the fantasy element. I love the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin songs. I love "Jenny." For me, the whole film builds to the point where Ginger Rogers sings, "Poor Jenny, bright as a penny" -- anti she opens her dress, and it's fur-lined and red. The film has influenced a lot of my movies. I screened it before shooting New York, New York, to look at the color and the use of lipstick, etc. Liza Minnelli was named after the Ginger Rogers character; her godfather was Ira Gershwin.

    My Dream Is Yours (1949, Michael Curtiz) and The Man I Love (1946, Raoul Walsh). Both are musical films noirs about nightclub singers; they had a lot to do with New York, New York. When we asked Doris Day about My Dream Is Yours, she said, "That's my life story." The style, the color, the decor, I took it all for New York, New York. For the opening titles I wanted a New York skyline -- the one from The Man I Love. We wound up painting the film.

    Always Leave Them Laughing (1949, Roy Del Ruth). Milton Berle is the archetype of the comedian who's really tough and nasty. This film depicts in no uncertain terms the kind of character Milton Berle -- the real Milton Berle -- is. I find comedians fascinating; there's so much pain and fear that goes into the trade, and this is one of the most honest films about comedians. I admire the guts it took for Berle to make this autobiographical film about a completely dislikable guy. In fact, I believe Berle completed direction of the film after Roy Del Ruth got sick about three-quarters of the way through.

  • labradford

    labradford 2010-02-01 21:30:23

    The Road to Zanzibar (1941, Victor Schertzinger) and Blue Skies (1946, Stuart Heisler). I like most Bing Crosby films. I was fascinated by his character. He's charming, he sings all the time -- and meanwhile, he's swindling everybody. In the Road pictures, he takes advantage of Bob Hope from beginning to end -- and still winds up with the girl. He uses Hope so badly, but with such integrity, such confidence. I used a variation of that in the Mean Streets relationship between Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. In Blue Skies, Crosby is a marvelous, dangerous character, because he's too restless to stay in one place. Every time he makes a success with one of his nightclubs, he sells it, goes on to another one. Fred Astaire is the stable good guy. And Crosby is the hero: unstable, irrational, maybe crazy, and such a charmer. It influenced the De Niro character in New York, New York.

    Lost in a Harem (1944, Charles Riesner) and Abbott and Costello Go To Mars (1953, Charles Lamont). Lost in a Harem, has one of the great Abbott and Costello comedy routines: "Slowly I turned ... step by step ... inch by inch ... I took my revenge." When they do their word-play routines, nobody can come near them. They take the English language, dissect it, throw it up in the air, fiddle it around; they find absurdity in the English language. This film is really Theater of the Absurd: Beckett, Ionesco, it's all there. Abbott and Costello Go to Mars was recommended to me by Michael Chapman, my cameraman, while we were doing Taxi Driver; he used to show it to his kids on Sunday mornings. It becomes very avant-garde during a "weightless" sequence. Two gangsters have a fight, and when they're weightless they talk into slow motion. One of them fires a gun, and the bullet goes in slow motion, and finally it just drops. It's total surrealism, the whole picture. These guys took a lot of chances and, in doing that, stumbled over something they didn't expect. The movie is worth seeing, at least on a Sunday morning.

    HORROR and WESTERN

    House of Wax (1953, Andre de Toth). It's the best 3-D film ever made -- and Andre de Toth had one eye! Throughout the first third of tire film, the camera keeps tracking around Vincent Price, and around the wax figures -- who look vet much like real people. And every time somebody comes into a frame you don't know whether it's a dummy or a real person. When the wax museum burns, and the eyes start to fall out of the dummies' eye sockets, it's tremendously effective. The whole movie is so outlandish, so outrageous. Anti I like that it takes place on Mulberry Street -- my old neighborhood.

    The Uninvited (1944, Lewis Allen). The Uninvited is even scarier than House of Wax. In fact, it's the best ghost story every made. It's so frightening that Ray Milland has to crack a few jokes now and then, just to keep everybody in the theater.

    Frankenstein Created Woman (1967, Terence Fisher). I like all Hammer films. If I singled this one out, it's not" because I like it the best -- it's a sadistic film, very difficult to watch -- but because, here, they actually isolate the soul: a bright blue shining translucent ball. The implied metaphysic is close to something sublime.

  • labradford

    labradford 2010-02-01 21:31:14

    Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977, John Boorman). Again, we're dealing with metaphysics. The picture asks: Does great goodness bring upon itself great evil? This goes back to the Book of Job; it's God testing the good. In this sense, Regan (Linda Blair) is a modern-day saint -- like Ingrid Bergman in Europa '51, and, in a way, like Charlie in Mean Streets. I like the first Exorcist, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; but The Heretic surpasses it. Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got.

    One-Eyed Jacks (1961, Marlon Brando). It's a shame this movie has to be included here. It's unique: so extraordinary and so personal a vision, I can't see how it could have been a flop. Brando even has the guts to ride off into the sunset, waving, on a white horse -- and he gets away with it. Even in its cut version, it's an amazing achievement -- one of the best Westerns ever made.

    TOUGH GUYS

    I Walk Alone (1947, Byron Haskin). In the late Forties, Paramount released a series of films noirs unlike others at the time. They were produced by Hal B. Wallis, and usually starred Burt Lancaster' or Kirk Douglas. In I Walk Alone, Lancaster comes out of prison after ten years -- he took a bum rap for his friends -- looking to cash in on his part of the nightclub his pal Douglas bought with the loot. But everything's changed; he can't lit in. He has only one way to deal with his problems: brute force. I Walk Alone is a very intelligent movie about a man totally perplexed by the new postwar world. And this world became the new world of filmmaking, too. The gangster of the Thirties became the gangster of the Forties.

    Night and the City (1950, Jules Dassin). This was an important film for me, in terms of the background for Mean Streets. There's a good sense of emotional violence in the film. Richard Widmark is a character obsessed, a hustler, all night running, panicked, desperate -- like Charlie in Mean Streets. And he winds up ruined, like Charlie -- doom written on his face.

    Station Six -- Sahara (1963, Seth Holt). A group of men live alone in an oil station in the desert. There's a strong suggestion of homosexuality among the men -- and then, in an extraordinary sequence, this siren (Carroll Baker) drives into the scene, with her husband, and all the men try to kill each other. The desolation and the overall lurid quality make the movie better than anything the National Enquirer could come up with. The editing and the use of overlapping dialogue are marvelous; Seth Holt began his movie career as an editor. Here you get that palpable sense of being in a place -- stuck in a place. And you learn what it's like :in a society of people who live on the outside. Way on the outside.

    Dark of the Sun (1968, Jack Cardiff). This movie -- Rod Taylor vs. the Mau Maus -- was the most violent I'd seen up to that time. There's a scene where Taylor fights an ex-Nazi with chainsaws. In another scene, a train full of refugees has finally escaped the Mau Maus in the valley below -- and just as it's about to reach the top of a hill, the power fails, the train goes all the way back down, and the refugees are slaughtered. It's a truly sadistic movie, but it should be seen. I'd guess that because of its utter racism, a lot of people would have found it embarrassing, so they just ignored it. The sense of the film is overwhelmingly violent; there's no consideration for anything else. The answer to everything is "kill."

  • labradford

    labradford 2010-02-01 21:32:31

    movie told the entire Fin story, with Pretty Boy Floyd, Ma Barker, Bonnie and Clyde, etc. It's very episodic, very documentary. There's a moment when Ma Barker knows she has to kill her husband. She tells him to go off in the woods; he goes; dissolve to a machine gun; dissolve back and Ma's in the car. It's an amazing film. It's to be studied, because it shows you how to make a film on a low budget. Twenty cents.

    Murder By Contract (1958, Irving Lerner). This is the film that has influenced me most. I had a clip out of it in Mean Streets but had to take it out: it was too long, and a little too esoteric. And there's a getting-in-shape sequence that's very much like the one in Taxi Driver. The spirit of Murder By Contract has a lot to do with Taxi Driver. Lerner was an artist who knew how to do things in shorthand, like Bresson and Godard. The film puts us all to shame with its economy of style, especially in the barbershop murder at the beginning. Vince Edwards gives a marvelous performance as the killer who couldn't murder a woman. Murder By Contract was a favorite of neighborhood guys who didn't know anything about movies. They just liked the film because they recognized something unique about it.

    AND...

    The Magic Box (1951, John Boulting). I saw it as a child. It was the film that taught me a lot about the magic of movies. (Specifically, it taught me how to do flip books.) The scene where Robert Donat shows Laurence Olivier his film is a scene that says everything about movies; it opened the whole magical quality of filmmaking. The magical and the mad: a man who would continue to try and try -- at the expense of his family, his career, everything. The obsession of it! It makes you want to sign up. When you're 8 years old, it makes you want to be a filmmaker.

    RELATED ARTICLE: MARTIN'S SCORSESE'S 100 RANDOM PLEASURES

    On the whole, these films are not good. They're guilty. But there are things in them that make you like them, that make them worthwhile.

    The Agony and the Ecstasy, Alexander the Great, Barabbas, The Bible, Black Magic, Blood on Satan's Claw. The Brothers Karamazov; Captain Kronos, Vampire Killer; Carry On Ceo, Circus of Horrors, The City That Never Sleeps (or any John Auer film), Damn Yankees, Elephant Walk, The F.B.I Story. Fantasmi di Roma, Flesh and the Friends, Forever Amber, The Golden Mask, The Halls of Montezuma, Helen of Troy, Honor of Thy Father, Horrors of The Black Museum, Invasion U.S.A., The Iron Maiden , King of kings (61), The Last Vallley, the Legend of Hell House, The Man From Colorado, The Man Who Never was, Middle of the Night, Mr. Sardonicus, The Naked Jungle, Ocean's 11, One Million B.C. (40), Pal Joey, People Will Talk, Pete Kelly's Blues, The Pride and the Passion, Prince of Foxes, The Proud and the Beautiful, the Purple Heart, Quo Vadis?, Raintree County, Sands of the Kalahari, The Scent of a Woman, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Streets of Laredo, The Musketeers (48), the Vampire Circus.

  • labradford

    labradford 2010-02-01 21:33:39

    These are unguilty pleasures, films that I love, even though something spoils them.

    Al Capone, Arsenic and Old Lace, Autumn Leaves, Battleground, The Big Lift, Blanche Fury, Canyon Passage, The Chapman report, The Climax, The Comic, Corridors of Blood, The Desert Fox, Don't make Waves, drums, the Easy Life, Flight of the Phoenix, The Girl Can't Help It. The Guns of Batasi, The Haunting, Hill 24 Doesn't Answer, Idiot's Delight, Insect Woman, Invaders from Mars (53), It's in the Bag (or any Jack Benny Film), Jason and the Argonauts, The Jungle Book (4), King Solomon's Mines (50); Kil, baby, Kill (or any Mario Bava film); Leave Her to Heaven, Living It Up, The Long Ships, The Macomber Affair, Mafioso, The Man Between, The Man in the Iron Mask(39), The Man Who Could Work Miracles, The Maze, Naked Prey, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Pay or Die, The Picture of Durian Gray, Pork Chop Hill, The Purple Plain, The Razor's Edge (46), The Red tent, Shake Hands with the Devil, Take Care of My Little Girl, Too Late Blues, Il Viaggio, Where's Poppa?

    COPYRIGHT 1998 Film Society of Lincoln Center
    COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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