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Scorsese's List of 85 Films You Must See

by Anne Thompson
February 24, 2012 7:21 PM
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Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese

During an interview, off the top of his head Martin Scorsese gave writer Rick Tetzeli a list of 85 must-see films that influenced him. Of course as an NYU Cinema Studies graduate and so-called film expert, I had to check my mettle against Scorsese. Well, it looks like I need to do some serious catching up on my Rossellini and Visconti. I saw Scorsese's must-see "My Voyage to Italy" doc, which has long clips, but that's not the same thing as seeing these films in their entirety.

I have not seen 24 of the films on Scorsese's list, which is disturbing to say the least, as obscure as some of them are. It's always humbling to be reminded of holes in one's viewing. Of the ones I still have to see, most embarrassing are "All That Heaven Allows," "America America," "Caught," "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," I Walk Alone," "La Terra Trema," "Night and the City," "The Power and the Glory," "and "Two Weeks in Another Town."

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More: Classics, Lists, Martin Scorsese


  • Anne Thompson | March 1, 2012 8:20 PMReply

    It's not the first time someone overstated something to get people to read the story. By the way, Sergio, "Pickup on South Street" is one of my favorite movies of all time.

  • pow wow | March 1, 2012 12:59 AMReply

    --OF course, thanks to sellouts lie Scorsese,
    many of those movies you 'must see' ---are
    NOT being made. Just a little REALITY
    CHECK as Globalism and EUGENICS unfold
    on this, the again 'overlooked' 60th Anniversary
    of the awesomely relevant, EUGENICS 'unfriendly'
    -----------------KOREAN WAR---------------------.

  • DavidC | February 25, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    Good for drawing attention to many films people no longer talk about, but gaps are many, the largest being all of Asia: Not one "must see" from Japan, India, China, Korea or Hong Kong?

    I'm 41 for 85; not good at all. But like some others here I'm not sure I should get a point for film knowledge for having seen "Jason and the Argonauts" when I was 13.

  • Sergio | February 25, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    I realize that all lists like this are subjective but like Bob Hawk I'm surprised at some glaring omissions by some important filmmakers. And by the way Walsh's Roaring Twenties but not White Heat? And where's Battle of Algiers on the list or Frankenheimer's The Train for that matter (...sorry I was thinking of my OWN list) But any "must see" film list with Heaven's Gate can't be all bad. I'll defend that film too. And like Cadavra I've seen 72 out of the 85 films on the list. In fact just last night I was watching my DVD of Fuller's Pickup on South Street again so I'm ahead of the curve.

  • bob hawk | February 26, 2012 6:39 PM

    Yes, Sergio, I share your appreciation of HEAVEN'S GATE --the uncut one vs. the butchered version released by the studio. Same goes for ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

  • bob hawk | February 25, 2012 4:45 AMReply

    Rick Tetzeli's title is inaccurate and very misleading -- and should not be perpetuated as "the 85 films you need to see to know anything about film" or "must-sees" (JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS?!). This was culled from a long, rambling phone conversation with Scorsese, and are simply 85 films mentioned by Scorsese that had some sort of influence on him. There are numerous errors (obviously, Tetzeli does not have a fact checker, and he does not fact check himself). And the absence of so many filmmakers' entire ouevres -- Antonioni, Bergman, Chaplin, Eisenstein, Godard, Kubrick, Kurosawa, J. Renoir, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Zinnemann, to name just a few (not to mention a number of silent classics) -- is absurd, and I'm sure would be embarrassing to Scorsese as contextualized. Oy!

  • Meredith Brody | February 25, 2012 2:41 AMReply

    Huh, Annie, I'm surprised! I've seen every single one except Pabst's Secrets of the Soul, ehich I think is Secrets of a Soul, actually -- and I don't recall ever being offered the opportunity. Could re-see several of the Rossellinis (The Flowers of St. Francis, The Messiah, The Rise of Louis XIV), which I've only seen once each; ditto Altman's Health and Kansas City. Idiosyncratic list; too brief!

  • cadavra | February 24, 2012 8:07 PMReply

    I've seen 72 on this list, and most of the unseen 13 are the neo-Realist Italian pictures, a genre (for lack of a better term) which frankly bores the crap out of me and thus they will likely remain unseen by me. And no RIO BRAVO? For shame, Marty!

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