Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Scorsese X 4

Scorsese X 4, is a compilation tape of early Martin Scorsese films and consists of What's A Nice Girl Doing In A Place Like This (1963), It's Not Just You Murray! (1964), The Big Shave (1967) and Italianamerican (1974). The PAL tape was released by Connoisseur Video in the UK and Ireland in 2000.

What's A Nice Girl Doing In A Place Like This, Martin Scorsese's first movie made in 1963, is a 9 minute comic surreal short about a neurotic man who becomes obsessed with a picture of a man in a boat on a lake. After talking with his therapist, the man decides to become part of the picture... Scorsese's first film is very much an avant-garde piece, experimenting with different camera angles, lighting and movements; and rapid fire intercutting between live action and still photographs. Looking at the film today, its very likely Scorsese was absorbing a lot of European cinema like the films of Fellini, Truffaut and Godard.

It's Not Just You Murray! made the following year is fascinating in the light of Scorsese's later films. The film is about two small time New York crooks, Murray and Joe, and Murray's admiration for Joe who may be taking advantage of his friend's good nature... It's Not Just You Murray! has some interesting similarities with Who's That Knocking At My Door, and especially Mean Streets. Look out for a scene in Murray which looks very like a dress rehearsal for the pool room dust up in Scorsese's breakthrough film.

The third film on the tape, The Big Shave from 1967 is a mysterious 6 minute piece about a man who repeatedly cuts himself while shaving. Shot in color and in a bright white bathroom, it's a rather grim and surprisingly gory bloodbath.

The final film on the tape, Italianamerican a documentary portrait of his parents is from 1974. Easily the best film in the set, Italianamerican stars Catherine and Charlie Scorsese as they sit around their apartment and over dinner discussing their lives, the neighborhood they grew up in, and their parents who came to America from Sicily. Its a warm and deeply affectionate film, very much a cinéma vérité piece - at one stage Scorsese, who interviews his parents can be seen pausing to read his notes; and is intercut with photo montages and historical newsreel footage. Both parents are immensely charming, but Catherine Scorsese is the real star here, and she would virtually re-create her role some 25 years later in Goodfellas. Incidentally Mrs. Scorsese's recipe for meatballs appears on the credits !


  1. I'm realy surprised none of these shorts have appeared on Scorsese DVDs.... Any of the early films would be ideal for inclusion with Who's That Knocking At My Door, and Italianamerican on Taxi Driver...