Happy 75th Birthday, Martin Scorsese!

This month we celebrate the 75th birthday of moviemaker Martin Scorsese with a look at some of his best movies.

What better way to get to know someone than by learning how he does his work? Martin Scorsese in Ten Scenes takes 10 of his iconic movies and describes how he created a significant scene from each.

One of his important early films was Taxi Driver, the story of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a lonely Vietnam veteran who drives a cab overnight in New York City because he can’t sleep. Travis is enraged by the crime and ugliness of the city and it pushes him over the edge.

In Scorsese’s acclaimed 1990 crime film GoodFellas, Ray Liotta is wonderful as career criminal Henry Hill, whose alliance with a New York City crime family leads him first to wealth and ultimately into federal witness protection. Despite its violence, Goodfellas is a fun ride. It’s based on the nonfiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. Always happy to profit from his crimes, Henry Hill himself published three books before his death in 2012: Gangsters and Goodfellas, The Lufthansa Heist and The Wiseguy Cookbook.

If you want to experience Scorsese, but crime and violence aren’t your cup of tea, check out The Age of Innocence, a beautiful adaptation of Edith Wharton’s classic novel. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), a young gentleman living in 1870s New York City, is engaged to the innocent May Welland (Winona Ryder) but falls in love with her free-spirited cousin Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who's fled from her disastrous marriage to a Polish count.

My personal favorite is The Departed, in which William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a Massachusetts state trooper going undercover to infiltrate a South Boston crime syndicate headed by the rambunctiously evil Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is a mole recruited by Costello to infiltrate the state police. The two characters are doubles in appearance and background and both fall for police psychologist Dr. Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga). The Departed is a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, although Scorsese declined to watch that film before making The Departed so it wouldn’t influence him.

The enchanting children’s movie Hugo tells the story of an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station. Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo lives alone with a broken automaton that he tries to repair with parts stolen from the station’s toy store, owned by former filmmaker Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley). Melies' goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), befriends Hugo, and the two children have adventures together as they learn about Melies' mysterious past. It’s a lovely film that equates filmmaking with magic, a theme that must be dear to Scorsese.

What’s your favorite Martin Scorsese movie?  

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library