New York, New York
Release Year: 1977
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Earl Mac Rauch (screenplay & story), Mardik Martin (screenplay)
Starring: Liza Minelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander, Barry primus, Mary Kay Place, Georgie Auld, George Memmoli, Dick Miller
Rating: Nominated for 4 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Best Actress – Comedy or Musical (Liza Minelli), Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (Robert De Niro), Best Original Song (“New York, New York”)
MMoviegeek Sunday Classic #229, week 45 2018
Jimmy (Robert De Niro), an egotistical and erratic saxophonist meets singer Francine (Liza Minelli) on V-J Day. The two of them embark on a strained and rocky relationship as their career begin a slow up-hill climb.
Right after Taxi Driver (1976), Scorsese and De Niro collaborated again, this time on a quite different project. A longish musical following the relationship and career of two people who are ill-matched but love each other. De Niro (Mean Streets, 1973) plays the sort of character he often played at the early part of his career, selfish, mean-spirited, yet charismatic. Here with added jazz and musicality as talented saxophonist Jimmy. Minelli’s (Cabaret, 1972) Francine is a perhaps even more talented singer who is drawn (some would say forced) into his net and the two play out a tense and tempestuous relationship both personally and professionally. The film is great in terms of setting, costume and the let’s get ’em attitude right after VJ-Day when the movie starts. The story on the other hand is handled a bit unevenly, and despite being mostly a film about musicians, a weirdly irrelevant big musical number is crammed in towards the end. Mostly for fans of those in front of or behind the camera, but not without its charm, and worth watching just to see Minelli belt out the Oscar winning song New York, New York, which was written for this film and then covered by Sinatra the following year.
Martin Scorsese has called this a “film noir musical” and encouraged the cast to improvise. In fact, much of the dialogue was ad-libbed, which made it difficult in editing to maintain a streamlined narrative.
Robert De Niro learned to play the saxophone for the part to make his performance more convincing.
The blonde woman De Niro’s character sees dancing with a sailor by a streetlight is Liza Minelli in a blond wig.
Picture Copyright: Sony