November 24, 2016

Scorsese's 1974 Doc About His Parents is Something to Be Thankful For

italian american scorsese documentary no film school goodfellas
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, you can be grateful for Martin Scorsese's rarely seen film about his parents, Italianamerican. Watch it here. 

Many people know that Martin Scorsese grew up in New York City's Little Italy (on Elizabeth St., to be exact). Many people also know that he has cast his mother (and father) in several of his films. But even many hard-core Scorsese fans have never had the chance to see Italianamerican, the filmmaker's 1974 documentary in which, for almost an hour, he sits around the apartment where he grew up and interviews his parents. It's like a home movie/oral history project for school, except, you know, it's directed by Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese trains a camera on his parents as they tell stories of their childhoods. At one point, Charles Scorsese says, "People back then were all good storytellers because there was no radio or TV". Married for decades, the couple banters back and forth. Later, Scorsese's camera follows his mother into the kitchen, where she discusses, in depth, the method by which she cooks her pasta sauce and meatballs (the recipe, helpfully, is listed in the end credits. I'm serious.)

In the kitchen, Catherine Scorsese also confides in her son that she thinks an anecdote her husband told the camera was not nice. It's bizarre how art and life and family all blend together for Scorsese—the anecdote was pretty innocuous, and, also, his parents really don't seem to mind movie cameras. To wit: Like his wife, Charles Scorsese has also appeared in many of his son's films, though he manages to hide in plain sight: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yztx8qfoNu0&ab_channel=JustFilmTrailers

Scorsese obviously has an abiding affection for his parents, for the community he comes from, and for film. Like the wedding home movies in Raging Bull, which Scorsese modeled on his parent's wedding, Italianamerican is an example of the director's holistic approach to cinema, where family and film live happily under the same roof. His family's influence on his films is definitely something to be thankful for.      

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1 Comment

This never gets old. So wonderful. If his parents said 'f***' every sentence and shot more people, it would perfectly match his film dialogue.

November 24, 2016 at 8:23PM, Edited November 24, 8:23PM

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