"It is hard to argue with any box set of films created by the now legendary Martin Scorsese, but although this set will no doubt draw a host of purchasers through its inclusion of RAGING BULL, it will really be of most interest to hardcore Scorsese fans curious to explore some of the director's lesser-known works of the 1970s.
The "Jewel in the Crown" of the set is the aforementioned RAGING BULL (1979), which many consider the single best boxing film ever made--and which many consider Scorsese's single finest film to date. Based on the scandal-plagued career and private life of boxer Jake LaMotta and featuring powerhouse performances by Robert De Niro and Cathy Moriarty, it is indeed a film that is difficult to overpraise--a remarkable balance of passion and violence against the sheer beauty of the film itself. The DVD edition, which includes two disks, is remarkably fine here, featuring a remarkably large number of commentary guests and a host bonuses that are never less than interesting and often remarkably insightful as well.
The remaining titles, however, are somewhat problematic--with Scorsese's first major film BOXCAR BERTHA (1972) easily the weakest link in the set. Starring David Carradine and a frequently nude Barbara Hershey, the film concerns the exploits of a pseudo-Bonnie and Clyde as they pillage and lust across Depression era America; suffice to say that the film was produced by the notorious Roger Corman and is best recalled for Hershey's physical charms. Although it receives a respectable transfer the DVD does not offer bonus material of any kind.
If BOXCAR BERTHA is a near-turkey, NEW YORK NEW YORK (1977, now available on DVD for the first time) might best be described as a near-miss--and the only musical Scorsese has thus far attempted. Presumably suggested by the stormy backstage lives of such "girl singers" as Doris Day, the film paints a broad picture of the rough and tumble post-WWII dance band era through its depiction of ill-fated romance between vocalist Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) and band leader Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro.) Including a dazzling array of musical talent and quite a few memorable musical numbers, the film is often quite fine but ultimately less than the sum of its often brilliant parts. Although slight in comparison to RAGING BULL, the bonus material here is quite interesting, including several alternate and deleted scenes and a very interesting commentary on which Scorsese is joined by critic Carrie Rickey.
The final title is THE LAST WALTZ (1978), a documentary that combines concert footage of 1970s rock group The Band's "last" concert with a healthy dose of backstage material to create what is easily one of the better rock-concert-documentaries available. Trouble is, if you don't like The Band you aren't likely to enjoy the film. As in the case of NEW YORK NEW YORK, the bonuses do not compare to RAGING BULL, but they are quite good in and of themselves, including a few out-takes and an enjoyable commentary by Scorsese and former band member Robbie Robertson.
If you are a Scorsese completist you'll doubtlessly find this a convenient way to pick up these four titles--and certainly the price is right. But it is worth noting that each of these films are available for independent purchase, and while RAGING BULL is a must-have and NEW YORK NEW YORK is more than worth the effort, you may prefer to purchase them individually rather than in tandem with the lame BOXCAR BERTHA and the well-done but niche-interest THE LAST WALTZ. Generally recommended nonetheless.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
A must for Scorsese fans
Cubist | United States | 02/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Martin Scorsese is one of the world's greatest filmmakers living today. At first, this may seem like so much over-inflated hype, and to be sure, he would be the first to avoid this title, but think, for a moment, about a handful of the films this man has done: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and GoodFellas. All of these films have received numerous awards, they are studied extensively in film classes all over the world, and have been well-received critically, while also gradually developing a loyal following of admirers consisting of not only of discerning cineastes but other filmmakers who are inspired by both the content of his films and the style in which they are presented. Scorsese has made several films that are generally regarded as landmark works that continue to entertain and inspire future generations.
Included with each DVD is a theatrical trailer for its corresponding movie.
New York, New York features a fine collection of extras, including an audio commentary by Scorsese and film critic Carrie Rickey, who proceeds to put the movie into context and gives a brief run-down of the down-beat musical sub-genre. Scorsese is a great talker with an encyclopedic knowledge of film, making this a must-listen for fans.
Scorsese introduces the movie and describes it as a love affair between two creative people. He wanted to recreate the artifice of old Hollywood movies but with realistically behaving characters a la the films of John Cassavetes.
Also included are 15 alternate takes/deleted scenes totaling 19 minutes that involved a lot of improvising between the actors.
There is a "Photo Gallery" that contains a decent collection on the set pictures, French lobby cards, posters, storyboards and stills of the cast and crew.
There are two audio commentaries for The Last Waltz. The first one features Scorsese and Robbie Robertson. The veteran musician's comments are screen-specific as he offers fantastic observations about the music and the musicians in a conversational tone that is very engaging as if you are sitting in his living room watching it with him over drinks. The second track features a number of participants: journalist/screenwriter Jay Cocks, music critic Greil Marcus, the film's executive producer Jonathan Taplin and others. Taplin talks about how he got Scorsese and Robertson together while the former was making New York, New York, while Marcus examines the songs and their significance on this informative track.
"Archival Outtakes: Jam 2" is 12 minute informal jam session that occurred towards the end of the concert with members of The Band, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Neil Young and others. It's great to see these legends rockin' out together.
"Revisiting The Last Waltz" is an excellent 22 minute retrospective featurette that includes new interviews with Scorsese and Robertson. It shows how meticulously Scorsese storyboarded and planned out the entire concert. One really gets an appreciation of how much work went into this film.
There is also a photo gallery with concert, studio and New York City premiere pictures as well as posters.
Raging Bull has the most impressive selection of extras. First up are three audio commentaries. The first one is with Scorsese and his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker (taken from the Criterion laser disc). Their comments are often screen-specific as they talk about how certain scenes were put together in this engaging, informative track. The second commentary features cast and crew, including producer Irwin Winkler, cinematographer Michael Chapman and others. Chapman dominates the track, talking about the effects of lighting and camera movements in given scenes. Finally, the last track features screenwriters Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader and the Raging Bull himself, Jake La Motta. The aging boxer recounts childhood memories and how he learned to fight, providing fascinating insight into the mentality of a boxer.
There are four featurettes, made specifically for this DVD, that cover various aspects of the movie and include new interviews with all the major cast and crew members, including Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarity, Joe Pesci, Paul Schrader and Frank Vincent. They vary in length but are all quite substantial and provide incredible insight into how this important film was made.
"The Bronx Bull" features various contemporary British film critics who talk about why Raging Bull is such a great movie and how it was savaged by reviewers in its day.
"De Niro vs. La Motta" is a shot for shot comparison of Scorsese's film with actual pictures and footage of La Motta. It's amazing to see how well De Niro resembled the real person and how closely Scorsese recreated some of his fights.
"La Motta Defends Title" is vintage newsreel footage of one of La Motta's actual fights."
Can't wait for this one!!!!
S. Kelly | Gainesville, FL United States | 09/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently purchased the Warner Bros. Scorsese collection, and it was great (other than the fact that I was a little disappointed with the special features). This one I'm equally ecstatic about, because it contains a very long-awaited and overdue Special Edition of "Raging Bull"!!!! It also contains the DVD debut of "New York, New York" in a special edition right out of the gate; it also contains the already available Special Edition of "The Last Waltz" and "Boxcar Bertha". "Bertha" is, obviously, not the strongest film in Scorsese's film canon. And, "NY,NY" is not his best, either (although it IS far better in it's director's cut than it originally was). However, "Last Waltz" is truly great for a concert film, and "Raging Bull" is a supreme masterpiece. I will buy this set for the S.E.'s of "New York" and "Raging Bull" alone.
Now all we need is for Universal to put out a boxed set of the films he did for them! I'd LOVE a "Casino" Special Edition!!!!"
Fantastic Box Set!
Eraserhead | Twin Peaks | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you bought this Martin Scorsese Film Collection & The Martin Scorsese Collection (released last year), you would have a definitive overview of the greatest American film director ever. This box set contains three of Scorsese's more underappreciated films and quite possibly the best film ever made, Raging Bull. The 2 disc edition of Raging Bull is a monumental release. The original DVD had been out of print for years, and it contained no special features, bu this release is packed with great features. There are 4! documentaries on the making of the film, which have new interviews with everyone involved, even the elusive Robert Deniro. The picture & sound are both improvements over the original DVD as well as he packaging. In fact the packaging for the entire box set is probably the most sturdy and easy to handle packaging of any box set that I own (and that is quite a few), especially when comparing it to the flimsy packaging of the other Scorsese box set. So, if your consider yourself a film buff of any kind, this set is essential. Buy this box set & the other Scorsese box set, then pick up Last Temptation of Christ, Casino, King of Comedy, & Gangs of New York and then you can bask in the glory of one of the true geniuses of modern cinema."
Very good film collection.
Puzzle box | Kuwait | 05/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a huge Scorsese fan I was excited when I ordered this boxset from Amazon and I definetely thought that it was worth it cause I haven't seen his first rare film Boxcar Bertha and New York, New York. I didn't care if any of the films had a ton of special features just as long as I got the films themselves and this collection boxset was a great deal. Boxcar Bertha was definetely the weakest film in the collection but this being Martin's debut film it didn't matter cause he is one of the greatest and highly respected directors of all time.
Boxcar Bertha is the story of a life of crime of a young girl (Barbara Hershey) who after watching her father die in an horrific crash gains revenge on his boss. On the run she joins up with gangsters and train robbers in a remoreseless campaign of crime 2/5 stars.
New York, New York is known to be one of Scorsese lost films and the reason was because it was a failure. The film is a musical taking place after WWII where Robert Deniro plays a lounge performer saxiphonist named Jimmy Doyle who's sucesful career is fustrating his relationship with a talented singer played by Liza Minnelli and yet they seem to try and make things better, the film was average if you can handle a 3 hour musical then you might like it more 3/5 stars.
The last waltz is a very good concert documentary that was filmed during the farewell concert of 'The band' on Thanksgiving day in 1976 and also features performaces from some of the most influential bands of that time like Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Joni Mitchel etc. a phenomenal concert film that unless you like the music then your going to love it but if not then forget it 5/5 stars.
Raging Bull is one of Scorsese's masterpiece, shot beautifuly in black and white the story is based on the true life of heavyweight boxer Jake La Motta and how he rised to fame but then quickly fell and became an almost unrecognisable person and his failing marriage which failed because of his constant paranoia and jealosy for his wife. This film is excellent and comes with a ton of extras on the 20th anniversary eddition 2 disc set, Deniro won his second oscar in this film which was well deserved I highly recomend this great drama/sports film 5/5 stars."