Total Recall

Total Recall: Shine a Light on Martin Scorsese

Give these a spin: Who's That Knocing At My Door, The King of Comedy, and After Hours.

by | April 2, 2008 | Comments

This week,
Martin
Scorsese
‘s Rolling Stones documentary
Shine
a Light
hits theaters. We at Rotten Tomatoes have decided to highlight some
of the lesser-known gems in the filmography of a man many have called America’s
greatest living director.

If you haven’t seen
Mean Streets
,
Taxi Driver
,
Raging Bull,
Goodfellas
, or his long-awaited Best Picture
winner The Departed, get thee to a video store immediately. Still,
Scorsese’s body of work is so consistently excellent that even his second-tier
films contain plenty of riches (Life Lessons, the short he made for the
omnibus New York Stories) or have influenced other filmmakers (both
Quentin Tarantino and
Richard Linklater have paid homage to Scorsese’s little-
seen doc
American Boy
in their own movies).

http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/spotlights/totalrecall/scorsese.jpgAfter directing several audacious student films at NYU,
Scorsese made his feature debut with
Who’s That Knocking At My Door
(1967, 75
percent on the Tomatometer)
, a raw slice-of-life story strongly influenced by indie auteur
John Cassavetes
Shadows
. Door follows J.R. (Harvey Keitel, in his
first billed role), a young man from Little Italy who idles away his hours
hanging with a group of buddies. He falls for a girl from the other side of the
tracks after a lengthy discussion of
The Searchers
on the Staten Island
Ferry. However, when he learns she’s been raped, J.R. falls into a morass of
unease and Catholic guilt — themes that would continue to inform later
Scorsese’s films.

It’s easy to view Who’s That Knocking At My Door as
simply a rough draft for Scorsese’s later, greater films. The movie went through
a long period of development, with Scorsese editing scenes together that had
been shot at different times for different projects; he even added an arty (and,
frankly, overblown) sex scene after an exploitation distributor requested it.
However, such an analysis overlooks the many pleasures — and innovations — on
display. Scorsese’s ability to present the daily rhythms of life in an urban
neighborhood is already in evidence, and his use of contemporary pop tunes on
the soundtrack was groundbreaking for its time. Channel 4 called Who’s
That Knocking At My Door
“a wonderfully inspiring low-budget feature, with
more than just an inkling of the treats to come.”



Who’s That Knocking At My Door‘s party scene (with different music).

http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/spotlights/totalrecall/scorsese.jpgScorsese’s films are filled with men who, despite limited
talent or smarts, desperately want to be someone. If Rupert Pupkin, the
antihero of
The King of Comedy
(1983, 92 percent)
, has a sunnier outward
disposition than Travis Bickle, he’s no less psychotic on the inside. Pupkin
(played with smarmy neediness by
Robert DeNiro) dreams of stand-up comedy fame;
his apartment is decorated like the set of a talk show, and he has imaginary
conversations with cardboard cutouts of big stars. One night, he weasels his way
into the limo of late night host Jerry Langford (deftly played by
Jerry Lewis).
Langford is cordial to Pupkin, vaguely promising to check out his act. However,
Pupkin blows this chance meeting out of proportion, showing up at Langford’s
office calling his home; after being rebuffed several times, he and fellow
stalker Masha (Sandra Bernhard) hatch a plot to kidnap Langford.

As black as black comedies come, The King of Comedy
is often painful to watch; Pupkin’s unearned self-regard lands him in plenty of
awkward situations, but there are stretches of the film (including the
much-debated ending) in which Pupkin’s delusions seem painfully within his
grasp. If King was met with confusion by the critics upon its release,
its dark critique of the culture of celebrity looks eerily prescient in our
paparazzi-saturated age. Chuck O’Leary of Fantastica Daily called it “one
of the most disturbing, thought-provoking and funniest films of the 1980s. This
underappreciated Scorsese great is more relevant today than ever.”



The King of Comedy: How to blow a date in four minutes.

http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/spotlights/totalrecall/scorsese.jpgPay attention
to After
Hours
(1985, 92 percent)
: it’s the closest Scorsese will ever come
to making a stoner comedy. Set during one increasingly bizarre night, plain
office drone Paul (Griffin Dunne) has one simple goal: to get back home after a
failed one night stand. How many obstacles can Scorsese and screenwriter
Joseph
Minion
stuff in a few hours? Try three psychotic blondes, angry taxi drivers and
subway employees, an ice cream truck,
Cheech Marin and
Tommy Chong, a bonafide
bloodthirsty mob, and Paul’s Kafkaesque ability to never have enough money to
get anywhere. Shot quickly and aggressively to rekindle Scorsese’s love for
filmmaking, After Hours is as hilarious as it is kinda frightening. The grit,
the grime, the sheer randomness of New York as filtered through the eyes of a
1980s yuppie makes this “a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce.” (Dave Kehr,
Chicago Reader)



After Hours: “Give me a token!”

Throughout his career, Scorsese has shown a devotion to
branching out past strictly movies, uncovering new platforms to tell his
stories. While the movies we just discussed aren’t as widely recalled among the
movie-going public compared to his other successes, even less seen is Scorsese’s
work in television, music videos, and short film. If you haven’t gotten around
to them yet, we’ll start you off: the complete 16-minute video to Michael
Jackson’s “Bad” is
available on YouTube
, as is 2007’s
The Key to Reserva
,
which doubles as a really long commercial and a ravishing homage to Hitchcock.

Tag Cloud

ABC 21st Century Fox Pride Month 2019 MTV Comedy Central National Geographic PBS MCU Sci-Fi RT21 technology Nominations nature MSNBC DC streaming service ITV Pixar aliens TruTV Netflix golden globes politics Pop Walt Disney Pictures theme song docudrama Elton John Podcast Women's History Month true crime Nickelodeon Shondaland comic dc Mary Tyler Moore Disney Channel Schedule Shudder Food Network based on movie Musical medical drama Extras Thanksgiving Song of Ice and Fire CW Seed Certified Fresh Awards Bravo Winners TV Land Acorn TV science fiction 2015 Spring TV Photos sequel Ellie Kemper Anna Paquin IFC streaming Fantasy Infographic thriller finale LGBT Sundance The Witch Britbox CMT mutant harry potter Music President History supernatural Country GIFs Universal casting VH1 CNN Amazon TCA Animation Tumblr Lionsgate Writers Guild of America period drama New York Comic Con cooking WGN Action Grammys Apple robots Sony Pictures Superheroes award winner USA Year in Review spider-man Polls and Games composers Set visit Spike Emmy Nominations Marvel adaptation Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt GLAAD Ovation Kids & Family police drama Columbia Pictures Superheroe Showtime jamie lee curtis zombies blaxploitation Oscars crossover crime Mary Poppins Returns El Rey See It Skip It dramedy dragons spy thriller Countdown television Masterpiece Stephen King Super Bowl CBS justice league Mystery Box Office doctor who Martial Arts Chernobyl psychological thriller Ghostbusters Vudu Toys DC Universe dceu YA TLC X-Men adventure Comedy Awards Tour war Rom-Com FXX American Society of Cinematographers discovery Chilling Adventures of Sabrina SundanceTV IFC Films CBS All Access sitcom Interview toy story OWN Paramount Red Carpet Cannes anthology Nat Geo Christmas ABC Family historical drama Valentine's Day Pirates ESPN Syfy Esquire ratings mockumentary Paramount Network Spectrum Originals TCA 2017 Lucasfilm biography Sundance Now Star Wars SDCC psycho First Look game show Election E3 Epix E! travel spinoff Dark Horse Comics Drama SXSW Pet Sematary NYCC 007 romance Trophy Talk Premiere Dates Holidays Winter TV binge Hulu LGBTQ Star Trek The CW TV Trailer what to watch TIFF 45 FOX singing competition RT History talk show BBC America diversity Warner Bros. teaser cops anime Watching Series animated Horror Cartoon Network DC Comics Heroines Brie Larson Mindy Kaling Rocketman Freeform political drama richard e. Grant Best and Worst Adult Swim Reality Competition YouTube Premium BET Rocky Black Mirror social media Cosplay Lifetime DirecTV Quiz zombie green book FX elevated horror Trivia A&E facebook unscripted BBC Amazon Prime serial killer space miniseries crime drama Teen cats 2017 Summer Fox News Biopics vampires Rock HBO natural history Fall TV TBS festivals Western APB Musicals The Arrangement crime thriller GoT Tarantino PaleyFest VICE TCM San Diego Comic-Con cinemax 2018 Calendar Opinion YouTube Red disaster Disney 24 frames TNT boxoffice hist NBC cults Logo Film Festival Mary poppins Reality comiccon Crackle Comics on TV witnail Creative Arts Emmys zero dark thirty Comic Book Mudbound transformers Marathons strong female leads Sneak Peek Emmys Video Games Tomatazos Starz Character Guide DGA USA Network Captain marvel 20th Century Fox sports 2016 AMC