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Disc 1: NEW YORK, NEW YORK Disc 2: BOXCAR BERTHA Disc 3: THE LAST WALTZ Disc 4: RAGING BULL SPECIAL EDITION
Two major collections of Martin Scorsese DVDs were released within a year. While the Warner set contains more popular films, this MGM set digs deeper. It combines a new, knockout two-disc edition of Raging Bull, the concert film The Last Waltz, and two Scorsese curios--Boxcar Bertha and, making its DVD debut, New York, New York. Bertha (1972) is Scorsese's first Hollywood film, a low-budget Roger Corman film adding sex to a Bonnie and Clyde formula of train-robbing outlaws starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine. After seeing the film, John Cassavetes told Scorsese what he already knew--"make a movie about something you really care about"--thus providing the spark for Scorsese to make Mean Streets and turn his career around.
After Taxi Driver, Scorsese went musical. The Last Waltz (1978), a record of the Band's 1976 farewell performance is a solid candidate for the best-ever concert film. Using the lessons learned as assistant director/editor on Woodstock, Scorsese storyboarded as much of the live concert as he could and relied on expert cinematographers to handle the tough shoot (big cameras needing constant attention for the live event). Scorsese's earthy interview segments were parodied in This Is Spinal Tap a few years later. New York, New York (1977) was Scorsese's attempt to recreate the musicals of his youth. He added the realistic flair of a modern film, but re-created the vintage look and style, with mixed results. The design and music are lavishly produced, but the story involving Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro doesn't click. This "director's cut" has been around for years on home video. The new commentary by Scorsese is interesting, but there's too much dry by-the-facts talk from film critic Carrie Rickey. The DVD extras are plentiful and far more engaging with the new edition of Raging Bull (1979), a Scorsese masterpiece of design and effect following the tumultuous times of prizefighter Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro in an Oscar-winning performance). --Doug Thomas