Martin Scorsese once said that “cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out”. Naturally, he meant it in a poetic fashion, but in a meta sense, the director has had so many cinematic ideas that a lot of his creative output still sadly lingers just out of shot.
Certain projects have landed on the cutting room floor with good reason, however, a good few still wait in the wings, and they sound so tantalising on paper that every fan would dearly love to see them come to fruition. While there are some projects like Joker that got his attention before the sober light of day sent them away, others have simply encountered hurdles or else hit the pause to make way for greenlit masterpieces.
Below, we’re raking through the glorious TBCs in his back catalogue and listing those that we would dearly love to see projected onto the big screen soon enough. As it turns out, they all happen to be biopics which explains the stumbling blocks that they have encountered—if you want to tell someone’s story you must first get the nod and then a thousand other legal boxes must be ticked. Let’s hope these ones can be rectified soon enough…
Five unrealised Martin Scorsese movies:
A biopic on the life and times of Frank Sinatra has long been planned by Martin Scorsese. In fact, it has been planned for so long that several permutations of the same concept have evolved.
Initially, Scorsese came up with a concept in 2000 as he planned to cast John Travolta as Frank Sinatra and Tom Hanks as Dean Martin. When that project was dashed, he later revised his plan and hoped to cast his new fateful frontman, Leonardo DiCaprio, as the lead.
Sadly, the project frequently runs aground apparently because Scorsese wishes to explore Sinatra’s apparent mob connections and the estate of the late star is keen to avoid the connotations. Thus, Goodfellas meets Nowhere Boy remains forever lingering in no man’s land.
Scorsese is a proud son of New York City and music doesn’t get much more eponymously Big Apple than the snotty asocial manner of the leather-clad punk pioneers, the Ramones. This meeting of minds in the concrete jungle would help bring the zeitgeist of Taxi Driver colliding into the sound that the city helped to spawn.
With drug addictions rampant, infighting and Dee Dee Ramone reported turning tricks as a tragically unsuccessful sex worker, there is plenty of meat to the Ramones story and, apparently, Scorsese became interested in a project following the 40th anniversary of their trailblazing debut that kickstarted punk in earnest.
However, Scorsese was busy working on Silence and since then the Ramones project has followed suit. Seemingly the project didn’t get beyond JAM Studios attaching Scorsese’s name to a “history of Ramones” biopic. Nevertheless, the world seems primed for it now.
Scorsese once said, “Music and film are inseparable. They always have been and always will be.” Thus, his eclectic mix of cinematic interests also extends to his record collection. From snarling punk to the swinging pleasantry of Dean Martin, he is across the board.
When it comes to Dean ‘Dino’ Martin, Scorsese wanted to focus on his relationship with Jerry Lewis the comic star who once starred in Scorsese’s finest film (for my money), The King of Comedy. Together the pair formed the comedy duo Martin and Lewis with the classy Martin proving the perfect foil for Lewis’ buffoonery.
Once more, Scorsese picked out Tom Hanks as his potential lead, but Jim Carey and Adam Sandler were also said to be outside bets in the running. Apparently, the script written by Nicholas Pileggi and a permutation became the HBO series Rat Pack, but sadly the project has gone quiet since around 2000.
Having already successfully entered the ring with Raging Bull, the star director would be no stranger to the corner. Tyson’s life would offer up a few wild flashes and comedic turns on this occasion which would surely make for a riotous biopic with Andy Serkis no doubt playing a tiger.
What’s more, as anyone who has ever seen Jamie Foxx on talk shows can attest, the casting would be superbly straightforward considering he does the best impression in the business. Well, as it happens, he is already lined up to play the star in a miniseries reportedly under development with Scorsese producing.
However, with the potential of a standalone movie also in the welter, many fans would love to see the Hugo director helm the project himself.
“Life is a lot like jazz,” George Gershwin once said, “It’s best when you improvise.” With that brisk approach to life, the legendary composer pretty much dictated the sound of early Hollywood with a prolific slew of scores.
Being the cinephile that he is, this naturally titillated the director and at one point he looked set to team up with Taxi Driver scriptwriter Paul Schrader once more for a project starring Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, and David Bowie. However, for some mad reason, that failsafe cast, crew and plot was shelved!
The silver lining is that Scorsese is apparently set to produce a movie based on Gershwin’s music by Sing Street director John Carney. Albeit this is currently unconfirmed, Carney’s history of musical cinema would certainly stand him in good stead for the fabled film.