Stars: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander, Barry Primus, Mary Kay Place, Georgie Auld, George Memmoli

New York, New York must have seemed like a befuddling film upon its release in 1977. It was shown against films that had pushed the perceived boundaries of cinema forward. That year, audiences consumed innovative works like Star Wars, Annie Hall, Eraserhead, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. With his story about a saxophonist and a young singer begrudgingly falling in love during V-J day, Scorsese headed backwards to create a film that could stand alongside the lavish musicals of the '50s.

Great musicals such as West Side Story, Singin’ in the Rain, and The Band Wagon concealed their directors behind their theatricality and choreography. Scorsese’s directorial flourishes are apparent in New York, New York. The characters speak in frenzied insults and erupt in confrontation with one another. 


When De Niro and Minnelli hit that major chord together, acing their auditions and amazing ballroom crowds, New York, New York is an engrossing film. When the film's more difficult elements intentionally push the audience away, however, it can be difficult to once again find the charm in which this genre operates. Its big musical number is titled “Happy Endings,” a clever irony since the film refuses to end on one. The bitterness and frustration that can come of artistic pursuits are at the forefront. The damage inflicted by the film's dark side is never completely erased by its theatricality and elegance. Zade Constantine