Study Guide

Martin Scorsese Early Career

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Early Career

In 1960, Scorsese enrolled at New York University to study film. He busied himself making short student films, including the Roman epic Vesuvius VI and a cop comedy called It's Not Just You, Murray! By the time he left NYU in 1966, he had a master's in fine arts degree, a handful of films under his belt, and a wife and child. Scorsese married Laraine Marie Brennan in 1965, and the couple's daughter Catherine was born later that year.

In 1967, Scorsese released his first feature film, Who's That Knocking At My Door? It starred a young and unknown actor named Harvey Keitel. Foreshadowing themes that Scorsese would mine in later films, the movie followed a young Italian-American man navigating the rough streets of New York City. The movie attracted the attention of the director Roger Corman, who took an interest in the young director and served as his mentor. Over the next few years, Scorsese supported himself and his young family by teaching, editing and working odd jobs while continuing to make his movies. His marriage ended in 1971.

In 1973, Scorsese released Mean Streets, a gritty autobiographical drama starring Keitel and Robert DeNiro, who was working with Scorsese for the first time. The breakthrough film earned great reviews and established Scorsese as a promising young director to watch. The following year he directed the drama Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which won a Best Actress Oscar for leading lady Ellen Burstyn. Scorsese married the writer Julia B. Cameron in 1975 and had a second daughter, Domenica, but that marriage too ended in two years. Not for the last time, Scorsese's obsession with his work would wound his personal life.

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