In the above letter, Martin Scorsese asks New York’s city planners to protect the “grittiness” of the Bowery. As someone who has made Manhattan’s unique character an essential element in his films, Scorsese must be deeply saddened as the city continues to lose its glorious star quality to the encroaching blandness of chain stores and soulless glass and metal monstrosities.
Listen you fuckers, you screwheads. Here’s a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit…”
Substitute “dogs” and “cunts” with “landlords” and “Realtors” and suddenly Travis Bickle’s rant starts to sound sane.
There are certain directors who have a real gift for using rock ‘n’ roll in their movies. Martin Scorsese is a master at it. In Mean Streets, Scorsese relies heavily on The Rolling Stones to add a certain magic in scenes (“Jumping Jack Flash” and “Tell Me” are put to great use), but it is The Chips’ “Rubber Biscuit” that really energizes the moment when Harvey Keitel gets shit-faced in a bar. The combination of the woozy fish-eye lens and surreal doo-wop manages to replicate the kind of drunken disorientation and euphoria that usually proceeds blacking out. You can see Keitel struggling to get a grip on things as the song pummels him into oblivion.
This is the first in a series of great rock ‘n’ roll moments in the movies. You got a few?
As if there weren’t already enough cinematic goodness in Austin, Alamo Drafthouse has just announced a mini-festival of restored classic films from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. Here’s the good news:
Mondo & Alamo Drafthouse have partnered with The Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese’s film preservation organization, for a very special screening & poster series of eight classic films this May & June at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin, TX with beautifully restored 35mm prints. The Film Foundation is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation and has worked with the nation’s archives to save over 560 titles. The foundation provides public access to the restorations and educates future generations about film language and history.
The Film Foundation and its partners have provided pristine 35mm prints for King Kong, The Night of the Hunter, The Old Dark House, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Rashomon, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, The Unholy Three and Film. The films will also get the Mondo treatment with an original, stunning work of art available for sale at each of the screenings
The posters by Mondo Tees are quite beautiful, with King Kong (artist: Laurent Durieux) and Shadow Of A Doubt (Alan Hynes) being my favorites so far. For info on tickets for the screenings and to purchase posters visit The Alamo Drafthouse’s website.
On the heels of Madonna’s half-time spektakular and the new M.I.A. video (torrents of Arabia), may I present the The King of Rock and Roll (the white one) immortally preserved in hi-def.
Elvis on Tour was shot during a 15 city tour of the States in 1972 and Elvis is in fine Vegas form, wearing enough bling, satin, scarves and hairspray to make Liberace look like Bon Iver. Chubbier than in his sleek ‘68 Comeback Special, Presley still puts on a dynamic, though somewhat predictable, show.
The montage (split screen) sequences were directed by Martin Scorsese. I guess the producers thought if they replicated the look of the film Woodstock that hippies would suddenly think Elvis was hip. Had The King’s handlers let him stick to his lean mean black leather look of the ‘68 Comeback Special that might have happened. Afterall, a decade or so later, Morrissey found the look compelling enough to imitate it.
MOJO: Years ago, John [Lennon] was quoted as saying that George was ‘the kid’ when the Beatles began and that John treated George as such. How long did that last?
PAUL: It probably lasted a couple of years. Just because of his age, in a group of men who’ve grown up together, particularly round about their teenage years - age matters. In John’s case, who was three years older than George - that meant a lot. John was probably a bit embarrassed at having sort of ‘a young kid’ around, just ‘cos that happens in a bunch of guys. It lasted for a little while. It was particularly noticeable when George got deported from Hamburg [in November 1960] for being underage. Otherwise, when he first joined the group, he was a very fresh-faced looking kid. I remember introducing him to John and thinking, Wow, there’s a little bit of an age difference. It wasn’t so much for me ‘cos I was kind of in the middle. But as we grew up it ceased to make a difference. And those kind of differences iron themselves out.
MOJO: I’m curious about George’s process in the studio. Do you recall any stand-out moments where George brought something in or made a song click?
PAUL: Oh yeah, sure. There were quite a few. I would think immediately of my song “And I Love Her” which I brought in pretty much as a finished song. But George put on do-do-do-do [sings the signature riff] which is very much a part of the song. Y’know, the opening riff. That, to me, made a stunning difference to the song and whenever I play the song now, I remember the moment George came up with it. That song would not be the same without it.
I think a lot of his solos were very distinctive and made the records. He didn’t sound like any other guitarist. The very early days we were really kids and we didn’t think at all professionally. We were just kids being led through this amazing wonderland of the music business. We didn’t know how it went at all - a fact that I’m kind of glad of ‘cos I think it meant that we made it up. So we ended up making things up that people then would later emulate rather than us emulating stuff that we’d been told.
In the very early days, it was pretty exciting. I remember going to auditions at Decca and each of us did pretty well, y’know. We were in a pub afterwards having a drink and kind of debriefing and coming down off the excitement, but we were still pretty high off it all. And I remember sitting at the bar with George and it became kind of a fun thing for us for years later. I would say, [adopts awed voice] When you sang [Goffin & King’s] “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” it was amazin’ man!’ I’m not sure we said ‘man’ or even ‘amazing’ in those days, but… That was a special little moment and it just became a thing between me and him: [awed voice again] ‘When you sang Take Good Care Of My Baby’...’
Part 2 is here. Below, the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World, out next month.
Alfred Hitchcock made a habit of appearing in his own films, it became such a distraction that the great director ensured his trade-mark profile appeared soon after the opening titles, so audiences could concentrate on the intricacies of the plot rather than play Where’s Alfie?.
Over the years, other directors have adopted the Hitchcockian cameo (M Night Shyamalan being the most irritating), or turned it into a memorable scene - Martin Scorsese’s creepy cameo as a cuckolded husband in Taxi Driver is a small film all of its own. There have also been the directors who give cameos to the film-makers who influenced or inspired their careers - Jean-Luc Goddard’s homage to the genius Sam Fuller in Pierre le Fou, where the legendary director of The Steel Helmet, Underworld USA, The Naked Kiss and Shock Corridor expounds on cinema:
“Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word . . . emotion.”
Here is just a small selection of some notable cameos by directors in their own and in other director’s films.
Legendary director Sam Fuller appears in this party scene from Jean-Luc Goddard’s ‘Pierrot le Fou’ (1965)
More directors in front of the camera, after the jump…
Woody Allen’s dialog from Hannah and Her Sisters almost fits perfectly into this scene from Taxi Driver, with Robert De Niro and Cybill Shepherd. It works so well that it even presages what we know happens in Martin Scorsese’s film
“A week ago I bought a rifle. If I had a tumor, I was gonna kill myself. The thing that might’ve stopped me: My parents would be devastated. I would’ve had to shoot them also.
And my aunt and uncle….It would have been a bloodbath…
...I need answers. Otherwise, I’m gonna do something drastic.”
Now if only the Three Stooges had made Goodfellas.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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