Although Richard Schickel can be a rather hectoring old scold, his new book CONVERSATIONS WITH SCORSESE is a must-buy.
Of course, Martin Scorsese has participated in more than one interview book in his lifetime. But he responds to Schickel's queries with a not-always-seen-in-the-past candor.
Take this selection of Scorsese quotes from the chapter on THE KING OF COMEDY (the 1983 classic about kidnapping your way onto the show business A-list) for example:
"I just thought we were making my movie, and everybody would wait on me--a complete megalomaniac." [referring to the quite-long shoot]
"There is a part of it that's grotesque, you're right about that. But I was trying to capture something. As I was making the film, I realized that a part of me was in that story, and I was forced to confront it. I look back now and I realize why I couldn't make KING OF COMEDY back in 1975 when De Niro first gave it to me. I was too close to it. I didn't understand it. And I haven't seen it since I first made it. It's too embarrasssing.....Not embarrassing. It's--....very unsettling."
[Schickel mentions a scene where the receptionist to Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) isn't letting aspiring comic/talk-show host Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) "past the gates"]
Scorsese: "It was so sad. The poor guy wants to get in there. He can't get past her. He tries to make himself likable and yet there's all this extraordinary violence and hostility in him. I can articulate all that now. I couldn't articulate it then."
Schickel: "I can imagine why it was very difficult for you to do."
Scorsese: "Oh, it was awful for me, as I said."