Editor’s Notes

Happy Birthday, Martin Scorsese!

  • Aleszu Bajak
  • November 17, 2015

Today, legendary film director Martin Scorsese turns 73. We began writing about him forty years ago with sentences like this one from a special section on the “Ninth Era” of film: “The movie that put him on the map, Mean Streets, is about ‘a trapped little scumbag who wanted to become a priest’—which is how Scorsese describes himself once upon a time.” Our relationship and coverage of him only soared from there.

In 1993, as Scorsese was wrapping up The Age of Innocence, Marcelle Clements sat down with him in his living room to talk cinema, God, success, failure, masturbation, guilt, reincarnation, and the unbearable violence of nature documentaries—all under the gaze of two Japanese dolls gifted to him by film legend Akira Kurosawa. The story she produced from that session, “Martin Scorsese’s Mortal Sins,” is candid, unvarnished, and unforgettable.

Below, we decided to chart Scorsese’s rise to Hollywood superstar from Taxi Driver to The Wolf of Wall Street—two films that, weirdly enough, grossed about the same at the box office (after adjusting for inflation). One thing is evident from this kind of analysis: Scorsese knows how to keep his friends close. His success is undeniably linked to two equally talented masters of cinema, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, themselves the subjects of numerous Esquire profiles like these here and here.


(Speaking of GoodFellas, did you hear that Vincent Asaro—one of the real-life wiseguys Scorsese wrote the movie about—is in the news? He just got off for the 1978 Lufthansa heist. More on that and the Bonanno crime family here, now optimized for mobile with plain text.)

Anyway, back to Marty.

In 2002, Esquire visited Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein, Miramax co-chairman and producer of Gangs of New York, as they battled to get the sprawling, operatic, period epic finished, budget or no budget. “Harvey, Marty, and a Jar Full of Ears” is a clash of financial and creative wills—and there will be blood (onscreen, anyway).



Finally, Scorsese himself takes up the pen for Esquire in “The Next Scorsese,” lauding a newcomer, thirty-year-old Wes Anderson, for a “special kind of talent.” In this piece, Scorsese, through his familiar lightning-speed staccato of filmic acumen, praises Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, Anderson’s first two films. It’s a generous note about a young talent who reminds Scorsese of Leo McCarey and Jean Renoir, two of Marty’s favorites from childhood. “He knows how to convey the simple joys and interactions between people so well and with such richness. This kind of sensibility is rare in movies.” Anderson went on to direct The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, among other movies. “The Next Scorsese” is part of a bigger package in the March 2000 issue that also includes profiles of David O. Russell, Kevin Smith, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Movie buff or not, you’ll find there’s lots to sink your teeth into. Check it out.