Saturday, May 24, 2014

Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)

Martin Scorsese's debut feature film is slightly disjointed, as a result of having been shot over a period of several years and on a low budget (it began life as his thesis film at NYU), but contains a raw creative energy and flashes of brilliance that transcend the limitations under which it was produced.

The film takes a loose structural approach to its story of a young guy (Harvey Keitel in a breakout role) who carouses with his buddies in New York's Little Italy, and his relationship with a girl (Zina Bethune) which is complicated by his own Catholic guilt.

Scorsese's distinctive visual style is fully evident here, achieving some particularly striking nocturnal B&W imagery around the streets of Little Italy. The film's penultimate scene - a stirring montage of Catholic iconography (filmed inside St. Patrick's Cathedral) cut together to The Genies' "Who's That Knocking" - perfectly conveys the complementary powers of religion and art. The standout scene, however, is the slow-motion sequence of Keitel and his buddies drunkenly playing around with a gun at a party, accompanied by Ray Barretto's "El Watusi" on the soundtrack - a stylized illustration of restless macho energy and still one of the best things Scorsese has ever done.

No comments: