Martin Scorsese will go down in a history as perhaps the greatest filmmaker there ever was.
Since the release of Taxi Driver in 1976 Scorsese has managed to release an undisputed classic at least once every decade from that point on – Raging Bull (1980) followed by Goodfellas (1990). The next two decades proved just as fruitful for Scorsese with The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street, both resounding successes with critics and audiences alike. For the last five decades, Scorsese has remained culturally and critically ahead of the pack and has been cited as a major influence on everyone from Wes Anderson to Damien Chazelle. While his extensive catalogue will be familiar to most cinephiles, what about the movies Scorsese had an influence on from beyond the director’s chair? We count down the top 5.
Bleed for This
While Scorsese directed his own boxing biopic starring Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. Scorsese must have still have had the urge for some more in the ring action when he signed on to produce Bleed For This, directed by Ben Young starring Miles Teller. A movie following the true story of world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza who, after a near-fatal car crash, made one of sports’ most incredible comebacks.
Martin Scorsese was originally slated to direct this story of young drug pushers living in the projects in Brooklyn. Scorsese eventually dropped out and chose to direct Casino instead but not before passing over the reigns to none other than Spike Lee. Scorsese remained as the executive producer where his influence could still be felt as he suggested frequent collaborator Harvey Keitel for the role of the infamous Rocco Klein.
The movies of Scorsese have been adored by film critics for many years now. His films have been critically lauded by some of the greatest analytical thinkers of the medium for a long time. Roger Egbert, one of the greatest critical voices of our generation, was a massive fan of Scorsese’s work. So it is only fitting that Scorsese would be involved in a movie celebrating the renowned film critic’s life and career, in the documentary Life Itself directed by Steve James. Scorsese once said, “Roger Egbert understood him better as a director than he did himself.” High praise indeed, so it is easy to see why Scorsese partook in the documentary.
While the version of this troubled production that was eventually released can be credited to its director Kenneth Lonergan, the sheer number of lawsuits over the final cut of Margaret was extraordinary by any measure, with Lonergan needing extra time to edit the film, costing in the region of $1million to do so. Just as the situation seemed untenable cinematic maestro Martin Scorsese stepped in to edit his own cut of the film free of charge. Scorsese’s version apparently ran longer than the mandated 150-minute limit and was sadly passed on. Those who saw the version described it as “strong” and it would be interesting to see how a filmmaker as talented as Scorsese would have interpreted Lonergan’s work. We can only hope this version will be released at some stage in the future.
You Can Count On Me
Scorsese’s involvement in another Kenneth Lonergan film takes the number one spot. This time, Lonergan’s debut film You Can Count on Me, which Scorsese executively produced. Scorsese, a longtime fan of Lonergan’s work, had to use his considerable clout on more than one occasion to protect Lonergan from studio interference while filming. The finished product is a fantastic character-driven drama following a struggling single mother, whose life is thrown into turmoil after her rarely seen brother returns to town. This is Lonergan’s vision of the film and it would never have been able to be realised without the help of Scorsese. Another perfect example of how Scorsese is not only one of film’s true treasures, he is such a fan of the art form in general, he will do what he can to help promote other artists and their work in order for them to flourish.
Bleed For This hits cinemas Friday, December 2nd.