Stars: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, John Carradine, Harry Northup, Victor Argo

“Marty, you’ve just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It’s a good picture, but you’re better than the people who make this kind of movie.” - John Cassavetes on Boxcar Bertha.

The kind of movies Cassavetes was talking about were gritty pictures made on meager budgets. Nobody was more adept at cranking out B- and C-quality movies than Boxcar Bertha’s producer Roger Corman. Films carrying the Corman label weren’t always artistic duds. A Corman film, however, would adhere to Corman’s creative input. The criteria imposed on Scorsese ranged from the specific (adding a car chase) to the general (make it more like Bonnie and Clyde).

Bertha is a good film to kickoff this list ranking Scorsese’s work. It's easy to retroactively locate the film's important moments, like its crucifixion scene, the visceral portrayal of violence, and Scorsese’s cameo as a soft-spoken young man wanting to spend the night with Bertha after sleeping with her. Upon its release, those who were watching closely enough, like Cassavetes, yearned for the artistic emergence of a very capable director. Zade Constantine