With its period detail and lavish studio production, Gangs Of New York is an old-school epic unlike any of Scorsese's other big-ticket gangster flicks. The intricate, expensive set-up of this opening sequence shows exactly why.
House Of The Rising Sun
A dazzling end-of-era montage tying up the epic narrative of Scorsese's second-best mobster masterpiece. The clincher is the final, form-breaking surprise, as Joe Pesci's voice-over is interrupted by his character's surprise on-screen assassination. Scorsese, still breaking the rules afer all these years...
Are You Down?
The full version of Scorsese's pop video for the late, great Michael Jackson includes a lengthy set-up about a city kid called Daryl who heads back to his old neighbourhood and has to prove he's still, you know, bad.
What's A Mook?
Emerging from a Hollywood of staged stunts and quick-cut fighting, the frenetic, free-flowing pool hall scrap that kicks off when a deal goes screwy for Harvey Keitel's Charlie and chums ("You can't call me a mook") is clumsy and utterly mesmerising.
You Missed A Spot...
An early Scorsese short which runs for only six minutes but showcases themes - blood (of course) and the use of popular music - that would stay with him throughout his career.
Comparing De Niro's sinew-and-tattoo version of Max Cady to Robert Mitchum's original is like comparing a bear with rabies to a stray cat. Forget all the nakedly violent stuff, his most threatening scene is seducing nemesis Sam Bowden's daughter, played by a braced Juliette Lewis, by pretending to be her drama teacher.
Nobody's Gonna Give It To You...
Marty self-consciously back on big-time form, with a New Hollywood star talking over a neighbourhood crime piece as the Rolling Stones drift across the soundtrack. The film doesn't follow through with this early promise - it takes a different route - but if you've seen Mean Streets or Goodfellas it's impossible to listen to this and not get goosebumps.
The best moment in this frantic but self-parodying ambulance drama has Nic Cage's woozy paramedic gripping a drug dealer as firemen cut him free from a balcony railing, the sparks arcing against the Manhattan skyline and transforming into a cascade of fireworks.
Crash And Burn
For all it's Golden Era sweep, there's something middle of the road and un-Scorsese about Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator. Until you get to this life-defining crash, which again proves that Marty is the master of on-screen violence thanks to a menacing descent punctuated by viscious thuds and impacts.
Art Of The Ring
The outrageously artful opening credits of Raging Bull - a slow motion black and white shot of De Niro shrouded in gown, bouncing to Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana - which would be laughable were in not for the fact that the film itself is, you know, a masterpiece.
Scorsese's feature debut has Harvey Keitel as a neighbourhood kid getting up to tricks with his friends - a kind of proto-Mean Streets. More surprising is that Scorsese's confident experimental touch is already in place, as witnessed by this expressionistic party scene, full of slow-motion, dissolves and danger.
Oh, man, it's finished just as it's getting really good! Scorsese's sequel to the Paul Newman pool shark classic The Hustler is a little hit and miss, with Newman's star-power twinkle hidden behind a screen of smokey sadness until the very end, when his Fast Eddie snaps a break and flashes a grin as he declares himself to be back.
I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster
If there's a better beginning to a film, ever, then we haven't seen it. Ray Liotta's mob soldier Henry Hill and associates Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci finish off a clumsy murder in the trunk of their car, bathed in a red tail-light glow. Suddenly the camera swoops in to Henry - so dynamic, like a slap to the face - the music blares up, and the voice-over delivers that now-immortal line. "As far back as I can remember..."
Bill The Butcher
Daniel Day Lewis' ferocious Bill The Butcher gives a savage edge to the otherwise soft Gangs Of New York. Here he's at his most overtly, furiously murderous, cleaving Monk McGill in the back before braining him into the next life with his own club.
Jesus: The Alternative Ending
The theological keystone of Scorsese's hugely controversial religious work sees Christ imagining the life he might have had - marriage, children, ultimate failure - while pinned to the cross. It's ultimately intended to reinforce rather than question Catholicism, but in its exploration of Christ's humanity it's among the most radical of Scorsese's films.
Over two hours' of tangles and plot-twists unravel in a shocking two-minute parade of gasps and headshots at the end of Marty's cops-and-robbers betray-'em-up.
The Big Time
Just as dark as Travis Bickle or even Max Cady is De Niro's obsessive amateur comedian Rupert Pupkin, who stalks Jerry Lewis' alter-ego Jerry Langford for a spot on his prime time show. This is the film's twisted, ambiguous crescendo - Pupkin performing his routine having kidnapped Langford, winning the crowd over but revealing some dark, explanatory truths about his past.
Meet The Parents
Filmmaker makes a documentary short about his own parents - a recipe for airs, graces and yawns, right? Wrong. Not only his Scorsese's film full of his usual snappy edge (the mid-sentence cut to titles is electric) but his Ma and Pa, sat on plastic-covered sofa and full of bickers and muttering, are incredible to watch.
The Vice Squad
Another violence-junkie mob killer, another brutal Joe Pesci performance. This is the literally eye-popping highpoint of his appearance in Casino, putting the head of a tight-lipped Irish goon into a vice to squeeze him for information.
Johnny Be Bad
The flashpoint of De Niro's extraordinary turn as livewire Johnny Boy, coming shockingly clean to neighbourhood up-and-comer Michael about never paying him the money he owes ("I fuck you right where you breathe"). The best bit? When Michael leaves and the bright-burning, screw-the-world front dissolves into wry - but unrepentant - boyishness.
Marty's Academy Award
And about time too. The shamefully delayed moment when Scorsese picked up a statuette for best director, not so much for The Departed (although that's what it says on the Oscar) but for a life of intense and dynamic work. Spare a thought for his fellow-contenders - including Clint Eastwood and Stephen Frears - who must have known the game was up when
Scorsese pals Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas emerged to present
The heart-freezing about face from Joe Pesci's psychopathic Tommy DeVito ('Funny? Funny how?") which turns cosy nightclub laughing into a pin drop moment of unbearable tension... and then back again. Pesci has the scene by the neck, and forever nails the hair-trigger temper of the lifestyle.
I'm The Only One Here
De Niro's intense self-reflective strut is over-familiar now, having been through 35 years of mimicking and mocking. But watch it with fresh eyes and the truth of a stark and terrifying performance is still there - a painfully lonely man, angry with the world, gripping on grimly to some sense of purpose.
Four years after the mirror scene in Taxi Driver, De Niro again found himself face to face with a cracked and broken man, this time in the bruised shape of boxer Jake La Motta. It's not as dynamic as it's earlier counterpart, but it's darker, sadder, and with the quotation of On The Waterfront, placed De Niro head to head with the previous generation's acting great, Marlon Brando. De Niro wins on points.
The High Life
The perfect marriage of gangster glitz and technical dazzle, as Scorsese shows a glad-handing Henry Hill smiling and laughing his way through the back door of the Copacabana to the best seats in the house. The masterful shot has become legend, the glimpse of the good life is utterly seductive.
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