I couldn’t stand Martin Scorsese‘s New York, New York when I caught it in mid-July 1977. It made me go numb. I’d fallen deeply in love with Scorsese and Robert DeNiro after seeing Mean Streets three or four years earlier, but New York New York was so bad that I thought they’d both done serious harm to their careers.
How could two gifted guys who understood the urgent, nocturnal culture of Manhattan and all the undercurrents that propel that…how did they manage to make such a busy, agitated, synthetic downer?
Everyone understood what Scorsese was going for — a dysfunctional love story within a deliberately glossy, sound-stagey tribute to flamboyant big-studio musicals of the ’40s and early ’50s.
There were no difficulties with Liza Minnelli‘s performance as gifted singer Francine Evans, and certainly none with the music or production design. The problem was that Robert DeNiro Jimmy Doyle, a saxophonist, is one of the most infuriating assholes in film history.
The other problem is that New York, New York was a cocaine movie — actually one of the most infamous coke films ever made. It’s all there, chapter and verse, in Peter Biskind‘s “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.”
Posted almost exactly nine years ago: “HE reader Bobby Rivers has pointed out that during last night’s Martin Scorsese montage before he accepted his Golden Globe life achievement award, there was no clip from New York, New York, even though the band played the Kander & Ebb title tune as Scorsese walked to the stage.
“The reason, of course, is that very few people feel much affection for New York, New York.
It has, however, one electric scene — i.e., when De Niro is physically thrown out of a club that Minnelli is performing in, and he kicks out several light bulbs adorning the entrance way as he’s manhandled out by the manager and a bouncer. I would never buy the Bluray, but I would stream this calamity (which Pauline Kael called “an honest failure”) just to watch this bit again.
There’s a piece of it in the above trailer — it begins at 1:55.