November 17 ~  Sense of Humor Scorsese Connection

"The only thing that gets me through is a sense of humor." ~ Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

Renowned filmmaker and creative genius, Martin Scorsese (1942-) was born on this day in Flushing, New York. His parents were both children of Sicilian immigrants.

"As a child I wanted to be a painter," he recalled. "So I started trying to draw. But I was also fascinated by films and, having asthma, I would often be taken to the movie theaters."

He made his directorial debut with the black and white autobiographical drama, Who's That Knocking at My Door? (1968). "I can't help being religious," confessed the passionate Scorsese, who once wanted to become a priest. "I'm looking for the connection between God and man, like everyone else."

Scorsese's breakthrough as a director came in 1972 with Mean Streets (w/Robert De Niro) a film about gangsters in Little Italy that critic Pauline Kael called "a true original, and a triumph of personal filmmaking."

With the disturbing and unforgettable Taxi Driver (1976, w/Cybill Shepherd), he stirred controversy and made cinematic history. "I just knew I had to make this film," Scorsese said. "People related to the film very strongly in terms of loneliness."

Scorsese followed with the equally brilliant Raging Bull (1980), the brutal black-and-white story of prizefighter Jake LaMotta. In 2006, the filmmaker won the best director Oscar for The Departed.

"I have the best job in the world -- it's not really work," Scorsese said.

In 1990, he created The Film Foundation with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Robert Redford to preserve the history of the motion picture industry and restore old movies. Scorsese also founded The World Cinema Foundation "to help developing countries preserve their cinematic treasures."

"Like jazz... cinema is the great indigenous American art form," he said.

More FILM-MAKING Quotations

Stay sane. Keep your sense of humor.