A pioneer of modern cinema, Martin Scorsese has brought some of the most iconic stories to the silver screen, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street. As a lover and purveyor of all things cinema, Scorsese even once said: “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive”.
With his love affair of cinema knowing no bounds, such passion sparked when he was just six years old when he experienced his “most impressive memory of a feature film”. He suffered from terrible asthma as a child; thus, his parents often took him to the cinema, then he was taken by his mother to see Duel in the Sun, he fell in love, and his devotion to the art form continued therein to this day.
Ever since that moment, Martin Scorsese has persisted in his desire to inspire and inform the world of cinema with his own unique vision, influencing the likes of Joel and Ethan Coen, the Safdie Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson and countless others. Due to his sheer significance on American cinema, he often discusses his opinion on the landscape of the art form with various sources, discussing his biggest inspirations and favourite films.
In discussion with the American Film Institute, Scorsese explained his career through cinema, discussing how the form changed throughout the mid 20th century, as the director notes: “But here was 1956, the repression of the ‘50s and things were happening, the movie business was changing, what you could say in a movie was changing too”.
Continuing, he explained, “You had Stanley Kramer making certain kinds of very social conscious films, you had Kazan doing that too in the late ‘40s, early ‘50s and then, of course, you had Otto Preminger breaking everything which was fantastic”.
Adding to this breakdown of mid-century cinema, Martin Scorsese also deconstructed the alternative films making significant moves in the industry. “At the same time, United Artists were making these strange films too like The Big Knife and Kiss Me Deadly” Scorsese exclaims before significantly expressing, or like the great one the Sweet Smell of Success, which is one of the best films ever made and it shows this underbelly of the American psyche in a way at that time”.
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring the likes of Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success is not unlike a classic Scorsese flick, following a morally bankrupt press agent in Manhattan who coerces a press agent to break up his sister’s romance. Certainly a classic 1950s film noir, perhaps the film’s greatest accolade is its nod of approval from Martin Scorsese.
To be called “one of the best films ever made” is quite a feat.