New York, New York: 30th Anniversary Edition Martin Scorsese

New York, New York: 30th Anniversary Edition Martin Scorsese
Lodged oddly in Martin Scorsese’s filmography between Taxi Driver and Raging Bull lies New York, New York, the 1977 musical starring Liza Minnelli as a wannabe starlet with dreams of a big music career. Perhaps today it’s a surprise to many that this film even exists, and perhaps it’s better off that way. Minnelli stars as Francine Evans, who on VJ Day in August 1945 meets fellow struggling musician Jimmy Doyle (Scorsese staple Robert DeNiro, doing his best in a genre he doesn't belong in). He’s a saxophonist; she’s a singer; and the two fall for each other (after Doyle aggressively courts her in a borderline harassment sort of way), leading the film down a "can’t live with, can’t live without” storyline. There are some great moments in New York, particularly about an hour in when Minnelli serenades DeNiro with the incredible "The Man I Love.” However, the film is an overambitious mess, particularly in the awkward casting of the two stars, who appear to have very little chemistry together. That the process of making this film was suggestively a disaster lends particular interest to the second disc of features on this set, which has the odd privilege of outdoing the actual film in entertainment value. There’s a great commentary featuring Scorsese in discussion with film critic Carrie Rickey. Scorsese offers humble insights into the problems of the film, admitting he might have been a tad overambitious. "Normally, I plan everything in great detail,” he says. "But I decided not to do that on this picture and it ran way over budget.” Additionally, a whopping 40 minutes of deleted footage shows that the film was often improvised (the actors play around with different scenes in very different ways), and a 20-minute interview with Minnelli shows a pretty grand contrast between New York and Lucille 2. However, if you look at the three-year-old special edition of the film (as opposed to this anniversary edition), very little (read: the cover art) has changed, so don’t go out of your way to grab this one. (MGM)