About the Film Series The Songs & the Artists Blues Road Trip Blues Classroom Partners & Resources
About the Film Series
Feel Like Going Home
The Soul of a Man
The Road to Memphis
Warming by the Devil's Fire
Godfathers and Sons
Red, White & Blues
Piano Blues
Film Producers

Film Producers
Martin Scorsese Executive Producer
Martin Scorsese was born in 1942 in New York City, and grew up in the tough downtown neighborhood of Little Italy, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films. He suffered from severe asthma as a child and could not play outside or participate in sports, so his parents often took him to the movies. He was fascinated by the images on the screen and drew his own movies at home. That fascination and ambition never left him, and eventually led him to be among the first American generation of film school students, who were inspired by both cinema's Golden Age and the international independent cinema, as well as the counterculture movement happening around them in the 1960's.

Scorsese received a B.S. (1964) and M.S. (1968) from New York University, where he made several award-winning student films (including It's Not Just You, Murray! and The Big Shave) and wrote the script for what became his first feature film, Who's That Knocking At My Door? , released theatrically in 1969. He also served on the faculty from 1968 through 1970.

In 1970, Scorsese moved to Hollywood and directed Boxcar Bertha (1972), an exploitation film in the style of Bonnie and Clyde, for Producer Roger Corman. Encouraged by John Cassavetes to pursue a more personal style of filmmaking, he next made Mean Streets, an autobiographical story set in Little Italy. Acclaimed at the 1973 New York Film Festival and by critics, Mean Streets proved to be his breakthrough film. Scorsese then directed Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974); the picture was his first major commercial success and won Ellen Burstyn the Best Actress Oscar. Taxi Driver (1976) was next, starring Robert De Niro in one of his most electrifying performances as the Vietnam vet cab driver Travis Bickle. The film received four Oscar nominations and was awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The following year, Scorsese and De Niro teamed up again for New York, New York (1977), co-starring Liza Minnelli, a drama shot as an old-fashioned Hollywood musical. It was his next picture, Raging Bull, that firmly established his artistic reputation. Released in 1980, it was named "Best Film of the Decade" by numerous magazine and critics' polls and was nominated for eight Oscars. It won two: Best Actor went to Robert De Niro, and Best Editing to Thelma Schoonmaker. Using Raging Bull (which he shot in black and white) as evidence, Scorsese launched a successful international campaign against the manufacture of color-fading film stock.

Scorsese then directed The King of Comedy, about the lure of show business, with Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis in 1982. The independent movie After Hours (1985) followed, with Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette, for which Scorsese won the Best Director Award at Cannes. He returned to a studio project with The Color of Money in 1986. Paul Newman received his first Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of pool shark 'Fast' Eddie Felson. In 1988, Scorsese brought to the screen The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. The controversial film caused uproar and was met with demonstrations by church groups around the world. Scorsese received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director for the film. In 1989, he directed Life Lessons, an episode in the three-part film New York Stories (the other episodes were directed by Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola).

In 1990, Scorsese directed GoodFellas, based on the life of a mafia foot soldier played by Ray Liotta, which was nominated for six Academy Awards (Joe Pesci won for Best Supporting Actor). It received numerous critics' awards (Best Picture and Best Director by the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and National Society of Film Critics) and Scorsese was given the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Cape Fear (1991) was Scorsese's powerful remake of the 1962 Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum film, and remains one of his more commercially successful films to date. The Age of Innocence (1993) was a sumptuous rendition of Edith Wharton's novel about New York society at the turn of the century. It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder, and was nominated for five Oscars. With Casino in 1995, Scorsese returned to the world of gangsters in an epic tale about the rise and fall of the mob in Las Vegas in the 1970s, which starred Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone (who won the Golden Globe for her role).

He then directed Kundun in 1997, the story of the early life of the present Dalai Lama who fled to India after the takeover of his country by the communist Chinese. The movie received four Oscar nominations and won many critics' prizes for its cinematography and music. In 1999, Martin Scorsese directed Bringing Out the Dead, the story of a New York City paramedic played by Nicolas Cage. Scorsese was honored with a French Cesar for his work. He then turned to Gangs of New York, based on a script he first started 23 years earlier, a social and political drama set in the rugged downtown area of New York called The Five Points during the mid-19th century. Starring Leonardo di Caprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz, the long-awaited movie began shooting in 2000, was released in December 2002, and went on to earn numerous critics' honors, including a Golden Globe Best Director award for Scorsese.

Throughout his illustrious feature film career, Scorsese has also been an impassioned and distinguished documentary filmmaker. He began as an editor on the landmark concert film Woodstock (1970, dir. Michael Wadleigh). The documentary he made about his parents, Italianamerican (1974), remains among Scorsese's favorites of his own films. The Last Waltz (1978) captured the extraordinary last concert by The Band, with performances by such rock and roll legends as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, The Staples, and Neil Young. The film has been hailed as "the most beautiful rock film ever made." In 1995, he completed a four-hour documentary, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (co-directed by Michael Henry Wilson), commissioned by the British Film Institute to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of cinema. A uniquely personal look at American cinema, A Personal Journey firmly establishes Scorsese as a remarkable film historian. Further displaying his obsessive love and knowledge of cinema, Il Mio Viaggio in Italia ("My Voyage to Italy") is a history of Italian cinema seen through Scorsese's eyes. It was released in 2001 and won the William K. Everson History of Film Award from the National Board of Review. His latest documentary endeavor is The Blues, a labor of love that he has worked on over the course of many years. Scorsese is executive producing the seven-film documentary series as well as the "Salute to the Blues" concert film, and is directing the first episode, titled Feel Like Going Home.

Scorsese has long been devoted to film preservation efforts, and in 1990 he and nine other prominent filmmakers created The Film Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering greater awareness of the urgent need to protect and preserve motion picture history. Through partnerships and public events, the Foundation provides substantial support for preservation and restoration projects at the nation's leading archives. Additionally, the Foundation promotes the protection, preservation, and appreciation of film through national educational programs and public awareness campaigns. Scorsese has also re-released films through Martin Scorsese Presents, a company devoted to the restoration and exhibition of foreign and classic films. Jean Renoir's The Golden Coach, Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers, Luis Bu˝uel's Belle de Jour, Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, Anthony Mann's El Cid, and Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil are some of the movies re-released under its aegis.

In addition to directing, Scorsese has both acted in and produced numerous films. He has often appeared in minor roles or voiceovers in many of his own films, including Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Gangs of New York, and has also appeared in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994), Bertrand Tavernier's Round Midnight (1986) and had a cameo appearance in Albert Brooks's The Muse (1999). As a producer, Scorsese has brought to the screen Stephen Frears's adaptation of Jim Thompson's hard-boiled novel The Grifters (1990), John McNaughton's Mad Dog and Glory (1993), Spike Lee's Clockers (1995), Allison Anders's Grace of My Heart (1996), and Stephen Frears's western The Hi-Lo Country (1998). He also served as executive producer of Kenneth Lonergan's much-lauded debut feature You Can Count on Me (2000).

Scorsese's movies have earned many awards over the years, and in addition Scorsese himself has received numerous honors and distinctions. In 1991, the French government made him a Commandeur des Arts et Lettres. That same year he was honored by the American Cinemateque for career achievement. He received the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Britannia Award in 1993. In 1995, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for career achievement. He received the prestigious American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1997. In 1998, he received the Lifetime Career Award from Lincoln Center's Film Society, and was the President of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival where he received the Legion d'Honeur, which is France's highest honor. In 2000, he was elected an honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he received the Cavaliere di Gran Croce, which is Italy's highest honor. In 2003, Scorsese was honored with the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award and the annual Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award from Harvard University. He has received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Princeton University, Williams College, Bard College, Wesleyan University, and New York University.


Martin Scorsese
Paul G. Allen
Jody Patton
Ulrich Felsberg
Alex Gibney
Margaret Bodde
Richard E. Hutton


Home | Project Overview | Broadcast Schedule | Blues Shop | Site Credits
©2003 Vulcan Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.