Every Martin Scorsese Movie of the 1970s, Ranked by IMDb

Martin Scorsese is one of the most significant directors of the New Hollywood movement. Along with Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman, Scorsese helped bring a dark, experimental, and thought-provoking side to American cinema. He started directing B movies as a director for hire, but changed his career with a deeply personal portrait of Italian-American life in New York: The 1973s. average streets.

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Scorsese went on to direct a slew of other classics that rank among the greatest movies ever made, from Taxi driver for angry bull for Freedmen. In the decades since Scorsese put himself on the map in the ’70s, he’s earned a reputation as arguably the most legendary living filmmaker. But not all of Scorsese’s early films garnered as much critical (and IMDb user) acclaim as his later hits.

5 Bertha boxcar (1972) – 6.0

Scorsese’s first film of the decade is also the least appreciated by IMDb users. 1972 Bertha covered wagon is a revenge thriller set in the Great Depression, produced by B-movie legend Roger Corman (starting many prolific filmmakers) and based on road sister by Ben L. Reitman. It was Scorsese’s last film as a director for hire before following his own compass and expressing his own voice through cinema.

According to TIFFScorsese was inspired to make his next film much more personal when fellow director John Cassavetes called Bertha covered wagon “a piece of shit.” A year after the disappointment of Bertha covered wagonScorsese launched his career as an author with average streets.

4 New York, New York (1977) – 6.6

Robert De Niro in New York New York

1977 New York, New York marked one of Scorsese’s biggest tonal departures (and one of his biggest box office disappointments). There is no gang murder or Catholic guilt in this film; it’s a musical romance starring Robert De Niro as a self-absorbed jazz saxophonist and Liza Minnelli as a lounge singer.

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The film has been criticized for pairing a nostalgic classic Hollywood musical style with the heartbreaking story of a falling apart marriage. The film’s warm, fuzzy feel was an odd choice for such a heartbreaking story. The bitter realism of the wedding arc is not to be confused with the romance of the music and visuals. Minnelli’s title theme, later taken up by Frank Sinatra, is far more iconic and memorable than the film itself.

The critical and commercial failure of New York, New York put Scorsese’s career in a slump just at the start. A few years later, he and De Niro pulled themselves out of that slump with one of their most iconic collaborations, the 1980s boxing biopic. angry bullwhich won De Niro an Oscar.


3 Mean Streets (1973) – 7.2

Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets

The film that launched Scorsese’s career, average streets, remains one of Scorsese’s best films. It stars Harvey Keitel as Charlie, a well-balanced mobster riddled with Catholic guilt, and Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy, Charlie’s reckless friend whose messes he always has to clean up.

average streets established all the hallmarks of Scorsese’s cinematic style from the start: dark humor, voice-over narration, soundtrack needle-drops, and more. It also introduced audiences to Scorsese’s character-driven storytelling. He’s not as concerned with the plot as he is with the emotions, insecurities, and behavioral traits of human beings. Like most of Scorsese’s other films, average streets is a rounded character study built with mostly disconnected vignettes.

2 Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) – 7.3

Alice doesn't live here anymore

After the success of average streetsScorsese has been cast to direct Ellen Burstyn in the wonderfully naturalistic comedy-drama Alice doesn’t live here anymore. Almost half a century later, it’s still the only Scorsese film with a female lead. He handled the story carefully and spotlighted Burstyn’s incredible performance enough to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.

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Burstyn plays a widow who hits the road with her prodigious son in a bid to become a famous singer. The predictable story doesn’t quite live up to the cast’s stellar performances, but Alice doesn’t live here anymore showed audiences a softer, more sensitive side of Scorsese than they had seen in his most famous films.

1 Taxi Driver (1976) – 8.3

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver

With Alice doesn’t live here anymore under his belt, Scorsese returned to the serious detective films he was renowned for with 1976 Taxi driver. In the same way Chinese district and The long goodbye, Taxi driver helped define neo-noir. These films modernized the tropes of classic post-war film noir with an even darker, more seedy Watergate-era cynicism.

This is an experimental and deeply cinematic “New Hollywood” about the vigilante thriller, telling the story of a disturbed Vietnam War veteran who suffers from insomnia, drives a taxi in a New York City in plagued by crime and ultimately decides to arm himself and take the law into his own hands. Paul Schrader’s screenplay is such a taut, tense, masterfully crafted character study that it’s still passed down in screenwriting classes as an example of a perfect screenplay.

Travis Bickle is the ultimate anti-hero. His worsening psychosis keeps him aloof from the public eye, but his loneliness makes him universally identifiable. De Niro gives one of the finest performances of his career as Travis, capturing both his isolation and his murderous rage.

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