Recently the magazine Fast Company conducted a four hour interview with the man I believe to be our greatest living director, Martin Scorsese. As noted in the article, Scorsese mentioned 85 films that influenced him. Of those 85, I was rather surprised to find that only nine are currently available on instant Netflix. Being Scorsese, the list is a little heavy on film noir but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Peeping Tom (1960) – Not rated
“A disturbed filmmaker (Carl Boehm) literally kills with his camera in this ahead-of-its-time shocker from revered British director Michael Powell. Like the same year’s Psycho, this film’s combination of voyeurism, eroticism and horror repelled some 1960 critics, but its cult reputation soared in later years. Moira Shearer (star of Powell’s The Red Shoes) makes an appearance, as does Powell himself (as Boehm’s father in flashback).”
I have previously covered (and recommended) this film. Peeping Tom was well ahead of its time and essentially ended the career of its director, Michael Powell.
Caught (1949) – Not rated
“Looking for a means to rise above her station, struggling model Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes) marries millionaire Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan) — a character reportedly based on Howard Hughes — but her hopes are soon dashed when she discovers his sadistic ways. Leonora tires of being a kept woman and goes to work for a kind doctor (James Mason), who wins her heart. But Smith isn’t about to let his trophy wife escape without a fight.”
The Hustler (1961) – Not rated
“Paul Newman scores as pool shark “Fast Eddie” Felson, who tours the country hustling games — even challenging reigning champion Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) — in this brooding drama that explores the synergies between good and evil, love and desperation. The film won a pair of Oscars for its cinematography and art direction, while Newman and Gleason both earned Academy Award nominations for their performances. Piper Laurie co-stars.”
Not only influential but Martin Scorsese directed the sequel to this, The Color of Money (starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman).
I Walk Alone (1948) – Not rated
“Frankie Madison (Burt Lancaster), just out of prison, expects to pick up his bootlegging racket right where he left off. Unfortunately, his former partner, Noll Turner (Kirk Douglas), now a successful nightclub owner, has other ideas. Frankie turns to Noll’s girlfriend, torch singer Kay (Lizabeth Scott), and hatches a scheme to bring down Big Business for good. Can Frankie’s Prohibition-era strong-arm tactics get the job done?”
Midnight Cowboy (1969) – Rated R
“To earn cash as a freelance sex stud and work toward his dream of becoming a kept man, hayseed hustler Joe Buck heads to New York City, where an improbable friendship blossoms when he meets seedy con man Ratso Rizzo.”
One, Two, Three (1961)
“Director Billy Wilder’s Cold War farce comes off at a breakneck pace that will leave your head spinning. C.J. McNamara (James Cagney) is a Coca-Cola executive who travels to Berlin to promote the product on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But he soon learns that his real job is baby-sitting his boss’s teenage daughter, Scarlett (Pamela Tiffin), who has secretly married volatile Communist Otto Piffl (Horst Bucholz).”
Senso (Livia) (1954) – Not rated
“Italian Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli), whose family leads an underground resistance during the Austrian occupation of Italy, risks her marriage, family, friends and political standing when she gives in to her lust for Austrian Lt. Franz Mahler (Farley Granger). Set in the late 19th century, director Luchino Visconti’s luxurious, emotionally charged film is an adaptation of Camillo Boito’s novella Senso”
The Third Man (1949) – Not rated
“After arriving in post-World War II Vienna, unemployed pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) learns that his friend Harry (Orson Welles) has died in an accident. Compelled to investigate the death, Holly slowly uncovers startling revelations about Harry’s life. Based on a novel by Graham Greene, this classic film noir thriller earned an Academy Award nomination for director Carol Reed and won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.”
The Trial (Le Proces) (1962) – Not rated
“Director Orson Welles’s brilliant adaptation of Franz Kafka’s existential novel casts Anthony Perkins as Josef K, a bank clerk who finds himself at the mercy of a powerful and bizarre judicial system when he’s arrested for an unnamed crime. In his efforts to exonerate himself, the bewildered Josef becomes ensnared in a ponderous maze of bureaucratic camouflage and faceless courtrooms. Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider and Elsa Martinelli co-star.”