I have previously stated that I think The King of Comedy is possibly Scorsese’s greatest film. It is definitely the best of De Niro and Scorsese’s collaborative pieces. Yet, it is very underrated and occasionally forgotten about amongst their repertoire. Another of their films that gets lost amongst the glory of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull is the magnificent and tragic New York, New York. Inspired by director Vincent Minnelli’s Hollywood musicals of the forties, and starring his daughter, this is a story of real, raw, truthful love. There is no romance but so much heart. The tale of two musicians who are driven by their passions for each other and their art, New York, New York is a bitter look at love and relationships. Jimmy Doyle is as paranoid and erratic as Travis Bickle or Jake LaMotta and is complex enough to fascinate the audience. De Niro is spontaneous and exciting to watch throughout the story and during all of his character’s struggles and triumphs. Liza Minnelli gives an astonishingly honest performance and the ugliness of her character’s situation is contrasted by her physical beauty.
Like Minnelli’s performance, the whole film is rooted in juxtaposition. The glamour of the musical numbers are opposed by the bleak settings and lives of the protagonists. There is a sense of hope that is repeatedly being suffocated by a desperation and claustrophobia. Scorsese’s reliance on improvisation meant that there was very little script used in the production of the picture. As difficult as this made the editing stages, it did result is several hauntingly naturalistic scenes. I love this film because it is such a humble picture. It is understated and graceful despite the chaos and aggression it is filled with. Relationships can be ugly and New York, New York reminds me how easy it can be to fall both in and out of love. Here, the characters’ inability to accept love and trust one another leads to pain and destruction. Modern films such as Blue Valentine and 500 Days of Summer owe a debt to Scorsese’s “wife beating musical”, in the words of film critic Carrie Rickey, in the way that they strip away the romanticism of relationships and show the harsh reality of losing love.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.