A look back at this day in film history
November 17
Nov. 17, 1942
Martin Scorsese born

Hear the name "Martin Scorsese" and you'll most likely remember an iconic scene from one of his seminal modern classics, like the "You talkin' to me?" monologue from Taxi Driver or the gloriously long single-take Steadicam shot through a mob nightclub in Goodfellas. But Scorsese, who was born on November 17, 1942, has always been a two-track filmmaker, pursuing studio-based projects that mix auteurist smarts with audience appeal while pursuing smaller, personal documentary and producing projects. So, while we wait for his latest, the gothic thriller Shutter Island, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the director remains perhaps even more active than normal. His Boardwalk Empire series is soon to premiere on HBO, he's finishing a documentary on George Harrison, and he heads not one but two organizations designed to the preservation of great works of cinema. One, the Film Foundation, recently restored Michael Powell's masterpiece, The Red Shoes, while the other, the World Cinema Foundation, oversaw a stunning restoration of the 1969 Egyptian film, The Mummy, directed by Shadi Abdel Salam. Scorsese is slated to receive the Cecile B. DeMille Award, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, at the Golden Globes next year.

More Flashbacks
Duck Soup November 17, 1933
Duck Soup released

While today the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup is considered a highpoint of classic Hollywood, on its release in 1933, it was a commercial flop that pushed Paramount to terminate its contract with the fraternal funnymen.

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November 17, 1942
Baby Marty

66 years ago today in New York City, Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese came into the world; nowadays, he is known to all lovers of film as simply “Marty.” The roots of all of Scorsese’s thematic tropes and preoccupations can be traced back to his childhood: his parents were working class folk living in Manhattan’s bustling, mob-controlled Garment District and, as devout Catholics of Sicilian extraction, made sure that their little boy had religion central as a central part of his life. Indeed Scorsese, like his alter ego Charlie in Mean Streets, was on course to become a priest, but could not resist the pull of his true vocation: cinema. As the Oscar-winning director himself explains in his splendid TV 1995 series A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, movies became a fascination and an integral part of his life early in his childhood after watching films like Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief and Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City and Paisà. (Scorsese would later marry Isabella Rossellini, the great Italian’s daughter with Ingrid Bergman.) Scorsese would regularly go to the movie theater with his father in his childhood and adolescence and from his short films of the 1960s onwards, cast his parents numerous times in minor roles in his movies, never forgetting his debt to them or where he had come from.

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