Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese teams with Academy AwardÂ(r) winners* Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro in this splashy, flashy musical spectacle celebrating the glorious days of the Big Band Era in the Big Apple! Jimmy... more » is a joint-jumpin saxophonist on his way to stardom. Francine is a wannabe starlet who dreams of singing in the spotlight. When they meet, sparks flyand when he plays and she sings, they set New York on fire! It's the beginning of a stormy relationship, asthe two struggle to balance their passions for music and each other under the pressures of big-timeshow biz. *Minnelli: Actress, Cabaret (1972); De Niro: Actor, Raging Bull (1980), Supporting Actor, The Godfather Part II (1974)« less
Martin Scorsese's 'New York, New York'(1977) is still the recipent of much divided critical response. A massive box-office failure, the problem with the movie is that it's a toy for the director. Given the opportunity to do whatever he wanted after 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore' and 'Taxi Driver'(1976) were a pair of boffo hits, Scorsese decided to make a glitzy, camp, old-school forties-style musical homage to Vincente Minelli and Judy Garland. Casting Minelle and Garland's daughter in the lead made a sort of sense; unfortunately, Liza Minelli, already an Oscar winner for her part as a goofy, alcoholic, baby-faced performer in 'Cabaret'(1971), is already burnt-out. Having already lost whatever earnest, child-like charm she once had as a result of the hard boozer's saddlebags under her saucer eyes, Minelli is nobody's idea of an empathetic female lead. Worse, is the character of Jimmy Doyle--a hubris-ridden, dope-addled, self-worshipping bepop saxophonist--who uses Minelli as a sort of singing sperm receptacle. Played with a kind of grand guignol panache by the brilliant Robert DeNiro, Jimmy Doyle is such a mean varmint to Minelli that we lose all empathy for her in the firt ten minutes.
Like the old models this film is based on, like "Love Me or Leave Me' and 'A Star is Born'Scorsese, the notion of the sweet innocent singer, deflowered, dominated and then having her 'gift' stolen is a trope an audience can relate to. However, the kind of surreal musical world portrayed and simple, wide-eyed bravado of old school performers like Doris Day, Judy Garland, Van Johnson and Gene Kelly owes nothing to the neo-musical Scorsese universe which is unnerving because of its documentary-like realism and the Stanilavski methodology of all the cast, save Minelli.
I think the film's artifice in mixing Old Hollywood and reality works fairly well if you can get your head past Ms. Minelli. Sure, the film has a cold detached feel to it that occasionally becomes so downright obnoxious you detach from it. Simply put, the pleasures of the movie come from its beautiful, pseudo-technicolor palate and superb. If you're not a cinéaste and don't care a whit about film history, I doubt if this film is for you.
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Often Brilliant In Spite of Major Flaws
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 03/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1977, Martin Scorsese's NEW YORK, NEW YORK instantly divided critical response--and, facing box office competition from no less than STAR WARS, proved a major financial failure. A significantly edited re-release followed not long afterward but proved even less well received and even less profitable. Although a double VHS release eventually brought the film to the home market, the film remained unpopular and made barely a ripple in public consciousness. In 2005, however, NEW YORK, NEW YORK received an unexpected release to DVD. At long last it may begin to reach a significant audience.
As a story, NEW YORK, NEW YORK draws from a number of oddly "Noir-ish" musicals made at Warner Bros. in the late 1940s. Most particularly, according to Scorsese's commentary, it drew from MY DREAM IS YOURS, a film that not only starred Doris Day but actually reflected her life in its tale of a talented big band "girl singer" trapped in an abusive marriage with a musician. Although the film force-fed the audience a happy ending, later films would not. In the mid-1950s, Doris Day's LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME and Judy Garland's A STAR IS BORN offered stories of a gifted female vocalists locked into disastrous romances that played out to a very distinctly unhappy ending, and NEW YORK, NEW YORK draws from them as well.
Scorsese not only repeats the basic stories and themes of these films, he also repeats the artificially heightened visual style typical of Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s--it is no accident that Liza Minnelli looks and sings remarkably like mother Judy Garland in this film--but he does so to an entirely unexpected end. The bravado performing style of such films is completely snatched away, and the characters are presented in an almost documentary-like realism. In theory, each aspect of the film would emphasize the other; in fact, however, this was precisely what critics and audiences disliked about the film when it debuted. They considered it extremely grating.
But perhaps the passage of time has opened our eyes on the point. I saw NEW YORK, NEW YORK in its 1977 release and, music aside, I disliked it a great deal. I expected to retain that opinion when I approached the DVD release, but I was greatly surprised. It holds up remarkably well, and most of the time the balance of artifice and reality works very well. But there are significant flaws. In a general sense, the film has a cold feel to it that occasionally becomes so downright chilly you begin to detach from it. But even more difficult is the character of Jimmy Doyle, the abusive husband of the piece.
In his commentary, Scorsese notes that both he and actor Robert De Niro sought to push the character far beyond the extremes of MY DREAM IS YOURS, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, or A STAR IS BORN. They were perhaps more successful than they expected. The result is a character you actively do not want to watch or hear, and although we are eventually allowed to see beyond his annoying qualities that moment comes much too late in the film to make him acceptable in any significant way. It makes for more than one bout of uphill viewing.
Even those who didn't like the film in 1977 agreed that it looked good and the music was great, and although it isn't entirely ideal the DVD presentation is quite fine. Scorsese's introduction and commentary are excellent; he is, however, augmented by film critic Carrie Rickey, and while her remarks are often interesting they are a shade to academic in tone for consistent interest. The film has received a director's cut that restores the edits made for the second release as well as the "Happy Ending" number cut before the debut release, so the deleted scenes hold no great treasure; even so, they are interesting to watch.
Overall, I recommend the film--but it is very much a "Hollywood Insider" film that is probably best left to those who know a great deal about film history and who can recognize the numerous antecedents from which it draws.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer "
I don't think this is going to be the Ultimate Edition eithe
new yorker | NYC | 10/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'll start by rephrasing what I said about the last DVD edition
Even the non Special Edition of Boxcar Bertha from the Martin Scorsese Collection was presented in Widescreen , but alas New York, New York was only Letterboxed.
It only included the so called restored version of the film which is in reality only one of three versions released.
If any film is more deserving than The Abyss for a "watch it the way you want to" DVD release it's New York, New York.
The deleated / alternate scenes included did not represent the differences between the first and third versions of the film, nor do they include the scenes deleted from the first release to shorten the running time for the second run release.
The Laserdisc Special Edition release had more bonus material than was included on that DVD.
Guess we'll have to wait for the Ultimate Edition Boxed set for a truely special edition .
In the meantime this one will due.
Oct 2007: Pre - order pages are appearing for New York, New York: 30th Anniversary Edition, Reportedly 2 discs. Hopefully it's a vast improvement on the last one.
Details are starting to appear : Features Region 1 Keep Case Anamorphic Widescreen Audio: Mono - English, Spanish Dolby Surround 5.1 - English Subtitled - English, French, Spanish - Optional
Additional Release Material: Disc 1: NEW YORK NEW YORK - Feature Presentation Alternate Scenes - 1. Alternate Takes 2. Deleted Scenes Audio Commentaries - 1. Martin Scorsese - Director 2. Carrie Rickey - Film Critic Introduction - Martin Scorsese - Director Trailers - 1. Theatrical Trailer 2. Teaser Trailer 3. MGM/UA Previews Text/Photo Galleries: Galleries - 1. French Lobby Cards 2. Original Posters Stills/Photos - 1. Filmmakers, Cast & Crew 2. On Set 3. Research Photos Storyboards Disc 2: NEW YORK NEW YORK - Supplemental Material Additional Release Material: Audio Commentaries - Lazlo Kovacs, ASC - Cinematographer (Select Scenes) Featurettes - 1. "The New York, New York Stories" Part One 2. "The New York, New York Stories" Part Two 3. "Liza on NEW YORK NEW YORK"
It still may not be the Ultimate Edition this film should have but in the meantime this one will due.
Sadly latest news is it's the same version ( so called director's cut)as the last release only and even the "Liza on New York New York" is abridged. Only 5:35 minutes from a 30 minute segment done for an overseas release taped November 10th, 2003.
Shame on them."
Finally, Scorsese's romantic musical on dvd!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 10/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While many consider this one of Martin Scorsese's weakest films, it's one of my favorites. The musical performances, especially the Big Band songs, are very entertaining. Robert De Niro is my favorite actor of all time & I think he was perfect in this from beginning to end. Some hate this movie because at times De Niro's character isn't likable, but in comparison to his character in "Raging Bull" he's a kind gentleman in this film! De Niro plays Jimmy Doyle, a musician with great talent but no audience. That is, until he meets & teams up with Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli), a fabulous singer with great ambition. They're an overnight success, & they fall madly in love. "As time goes by", (pardon the pun) however their goals for success interfere with their relationship, leading to a split which may or may not be permanent (you'll have to see it to find out!). MGM's new special edition of "New York, New York" includes audio commentary, alternate takes, deleted scenes, a photo gallery, & theatrical trailers, & the film can be viewed in English Dolby Digital 5.1 or Mono. If you like Jazz & Big Band music, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, & Liza Minnelli, then you should add this underated gem to your collection."
Joan Crawford | Lansing, MI USA | 03/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Martin Scorcese's NEW YORK, NEW YORK is a film that explores realism through a most unlikely medium--a homage to the movie musicals of the 1950s, particularly the more dark and dramatic musicals, such as Judy Garland's A STAR IS BORN and Doris Day's LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME.
To many people 1977 does not seem like so very long ago, but to younger viewers and film enthusiasts who were not around then to see the movies firsthand, it can be a very daunting experience trying to hunt down obscure films from that time. I searched for about five years to find a decent copy of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, but was unlucky until finally it was released on DVD this year. I must say, along with THE DAY OF THE LOCUST, it was a very welcome release!
I am intrigued by many of the films of the 1970s and early 1980s that sought to explore earlier, more glamorous decades. Along with THE DAY OF THE LOCUST and FRANCES (1982), NEW YORK, NEW YORK is especially important for, if nothing else, a rare glimpse of Liza Minnelli at the peak of her beauty and talent. The film is an astounding showcase for her to emote, sing, and display incredible star quality at every turn. By the the time the great finale rolls around, with the theme song "New York, New York" sung with such bravado, it's easy to see what made Liza so famous. For many younger viewers, such as myself, who weren't around at the time, what made Liza famous (besides CABARET) is not readily apparent.
Finally, I will discuss the quality of the film, which is one of the truly great musicals. NEW YORK, NEW YORK is misunderstood primarily because it is so ambitious. For the sensitive viewer, who has great attention to significant details, the film is not flawed. The first time I watched it I considered it incredibly flawed, but the second time everything clicked for me. The idea behind the film was the put real life situations (including acting improvisation, etc.) into an artificial setting--in this case, a glitzy New York City during the big band era of the 1940s. The production is astounding at all levels. Nightclubs and streets and locations are recreated as if you are walking into the past, except better--this is the glamorous past created by the movies that didn't necessarily exist, but fuelled so many dreams. New York City was certainly movie heaven. The glittering skyline alone could make you dream of something better, and that's really what this movie is about. It's about wanting a happy ending, when it doesn't really exist.
For the two main characters, played so brilliantly by Robert Deniro and Liza Minnelli, that happy ending can't exist. Thus the magnificent lyric from the "Happy Endings" musical number that sums it all up: "Happy endings are only for the stars, not in the stars for me." And so we know that NEW YORK, NEW YORK can't end happily like so many musicals that came before, because this is the 1970s, and real life doesn't always end happy.
And real people do not always possess sympathetic qualities that win us over, or make us love them in the end. Robert Deniro's character is like many people we may have known in life, who we didn't like, and the movie doesn't bother trying to make us love him. Again, in real life, some people we just can't love. The main problem many people have with the film is their dislike of Robert Deniro's character, but in certain scenes he is touching, such as when he meets Liza in the hospital and says he doesn't want to see his son, because he is so genuine. We may not like him, but he is a genuine character.
There are other examples that may not be so obvious, of the realism the producers were trying to achieve: characters regularly flub their lines, people trip over chairs and bump into each other, and wine glasses are lifted with napkins stuck to the bottom. It's all so carefully constructed, and ultimately masterful.
The colors are reminiscent of A STAR IS BORN, Liza Minnelli reminds one of Judy Garland, but NEW YORK, NEW YORK belongs to Martin Scorsese. It is a misunderstood, but enduring, triumph.
Still waiting for "enhanced for widescreen TV" transfer
Irving Parke-Rhode | Chicago, IL USA | 12/01/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The version of the movie in this "special edition" is the same non-anamorphic transfer that was released in 2004. If you own a HD TV set you'll know what I mean. Instead of presenting the best version possible, this provides a flat letterboxed version well suited to the late 1980s."