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February 15, 2013


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I intend to spend Oscars night immersed in theyshootpictures.com's updated (2013) poll of polls for the 1000 greatest films. Hours without a single mention of 'Dances with Wolves' or red-carpet footage of Tom Hooper's face.


Mr. Wu

Interesting to read Mr. Scorcese's comments on The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and see how this story continues from 1989 to today. Mr. Scorcese, along with his editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Michael Powell's widow), have championed the restoration and preservation of many important films, and particularly those of Powell and Pressburger. Ms. Schoonmaker brought the restored 35mm print of Colonel Blimp to the Seattle Art Museum about this time last year. What an exquisite, beautiful experience that was to see that picture--as Mr. Scorcese says in your essay--on film and projected on a screen. 2:45 in one sitting packs an emotional whollop; he is not kidding. Martin Scorcese's movies are great and will be long remembered -- but I also believe his efforts at ensuring these films are preserved, and most importantly available to be seen, is an equal part of his continuing legacy.

David Ehrenstein

Very nice Marty memory, Glenn. I first met him in 1963 when he was teaching graduate courses at NYU and trying to get his first feature "Who's That Knocking Ay My Door" into production. We ran with a prodigious group of film reaks that included Jim McBride and L.M. Kit Carson. This was the pre-video era, when you actually had to go to theaters to see movies -- and New York had a wealth of theaters to go to.
The "Times Square" theater on42nd street in the pre-Disney era was a particular fave in thagt we could see double features of John Ford, Budd Boetticher and Anthony Mann westerns for less than a dollar. Godard RULED, needles to say -- especially "Contempt" (whose great score is memorably sampled in "Casino")


He has over the years become quite adept with the inhaler. I've seen him whip it out and take a hit so fast as to be virtually invisible. His laugh is infectious. His love for cinema is boundless. "Goodfellas" continues his exploation of Italian-American life that began with the quite innocent and non-gang-connected "Who's That Knocking." But I think his most personal film is "Hugo."

Tom Russell

On twitter the other evening the director Ti West was lamenting how making it easier for people to see movies was making them more disposable, "people used to have to dress up to go to the theater to see a movie or they might never get to see it", etc. I wish I had the above Scorsese-via-Kenny essay on hand at that time. Thanks for sharing this, Glenn.


"While I feel Brian's pain, I can't share his indignation, for a number of reasons."

How often does the 'correct' picture win the Oscar®?

I mean, go back 20 years, and you can only make even an ARGUABLE case for 2007 and 1997. That's not very good odds.


I first saw Goodfellas opening night at Grauman's Chinese, and it remains a notably memorable viewing experience.

That Fuzzy Bastard

I'm curious---how do you think it's anachronistic? I mean, sure there's no laserdiscs nowadays, but otherwise his ideas– that a wall of movies would be both a collector's delight and a status object, that preserving attention span would be a challenge, that home conditions would get ever-closer to theater conditions, that obscure movies would become accessible again– seem pretty accurate.

Glenn Kenny

C'mon, the tenor of the aspect ratio discussion is a little out of time, too....but yes, there's also a strong element of not -illogical prescience here too...

Pete Apruzzese

What a blast from the past. I vividly remember that essay - especially the section about his daughter and The Mummy and the aspect ratio section.

That Fuzzy Bastard

Yeah, the aspect ratio discussion is a marvelous reminder of that particular battle. It still amazes me that letterboxing won---I remember seeing those "You're only getting half the picture!" signs in video stores and thinking the attempt to convince the hoi polloi that they should accept a smaller image because it was artistically correct was a noble but doomed struggle. Rarely have I been so glad to have underestimated the American public.

Josh Z

I seem to remember Scorsese being the pitch-man for a line of video projectors (of the CRT variety) back when those things were far out of the reach of all but the most hardcore of video enthusiasts.


Interesting about his lower "comfort level with respect to prose writing" in those days, cause over the years he's certainly evolved into one exquisite critic as per his DirecTV/TCM columns for instance, some of the best and most underrated film writing today imo.

David Ehrenstein

Quite true. Had he not become a film director Marty would have made a first-rate film critic.

Shawn Stone

The aspect ratio problem is still around, just reversed: Now it's academy ratio films that get screwed up. Especially since whatever rep screenings still exist (especially out here in the provinces) are mostly DVD or Blu-ray.

A few weeks ago I went to a screening of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA at which the projectionist thought it a swell idea to squish the 1:37 to 1:85.

Never mind the home viewer adjusting the square image so it "looks right."


David, I bought your Scorsese book at a Paris bookstore back in 1997/1998, at around the same time Glenn's name caught my eye in a piece about Kundun he did for Premiere. Still one of the best edited books on its subject, I remember it being the first place I heard about Scorsese's project to do Silence (on Endo's book, which I bought and read around a year later!)

Tom Block

20th Century-Fox put out a series of action movies--the one I remember for sure was "The Last of the Mohicans"--that really pushed the letterbox "complete pic" angle; when I saw a big display case of them in Blockbuster I knew we'd turned a corner. I too am amazed it caught on so easily; the battle over colorization hadn't been *that* far in the past at the time.

David Ehrenstein

Merci, Gabriel. Looks like Marty's FINALLY getting around to "Silence." It's a very strange, intense book, and a film version has no "commercial appeal" that I can see.


"The aspect ratio problem is still around, just reversed: Now it's academy ratio films that get screwed up."

And 2.39:1 films are so commonly cropped or opened up to 16:9 for TV broadcast that I eventually dropped my premium cable subscriptions. DVRs are a godsend for watching movies on TV, but I eventually got sick of checking out something I'd DVRed the week before and discovering it was yet another "reformatted" 'Scope film.


Scorsese will be giving the next Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities:


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