Biography of Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese is one of the most acclaimed and successful film directors in the history of Hollywood. Born in New York City, to an Italian family, Scorsese is famous for directing films that depict a gritty New York, worlds of crime and suspense, brutal violence and tough luck. A graduate of NYU Tisch with a master's degree in film, Scorsese cites Italian neorealism and French New Wave as major influences on his style.

After directing shorts early in his career, Scorsese graduated to full-length films, first directing Who's That Knocking at My Door? with Harvey Keitel (then also a student), and then making a name for himself as one of the "movie brats" of the 1970s. Other "movie brats" included Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Spielberg. He would then make Mean Streets in 1973, his breakthrough hit, which notoriously tough New Yorker critic Pauline Kael touted as " a true original of our period, a triumph of personal filmmaking."

Just before Taxi Driver, Scorsese directed Ellen Burstyn in her Oscar-winning performance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Taxi Driver was the project that would catapult Scorsese to fame and success. A controversial film, which supposedly served as inspiration for John Hinckley, Jr. to make an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan five years after its release, Taxi Driver was an instant classic, exemplifying Scorsese's knack for telling gritty stories in a stylish and sensitive way, and bringing attention to his talented cinematographer, Michael Chapman. The film won the Palm d'or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for four Oscars.

Martin Scorsese has gone on to be one of Hollywood's greats, directing movies such as Raging Bull, After Hours, Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, and most recently, Silence in 2016. He has also directed countless documentaries, as iconic as The Last Waltz and Public Speaking, a film about notorious New York wit, Fran Lebowitz. He has been nominated for the Best Director Oscar 8 times, and won for his work on The Departed. He has been married five times, most recently to Helen Schermerhorn Morris.


Study Guides on Works by Martin Scorsese

Goodfellas was released in 1990 and is the Scorsese-directed classic mobster movie based on the life of a gangster called Henry Hill. The film was developed by Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi, author of the book Wiseguy and written with the...

Little known fact: when movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert did their countdown of the ten best movies of the year at the close of 1980, Siskel put Raging Bull in the number one slot while his companion in the next seat named The Black...

Audiences had modest expectations for Taxi Driver when it was first released in the winter of 1976. A low-budget film directed by a not-particularly-well-known Martin Scorsese and starring the young Robert De Niro, who had recently won an Oscar...