Study Guide

Martin Scorsese Goodfellas

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Scorsese spent the 1980s making a string of well-received films, including The King of Comedy (in which Scorsese feels DeNiro did his best work for him); the commercially successful The Color of Money, starring Paul Newman; and The Last Temptation of Christ. Temptation, based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, imagined the life of Jesus Christ if Jesus had been simply a mortal human and not a divine figure. Scorsese made the film, he said, in part because he wanted to know Jesus better. It was by far his most controversial film to date. The Italian director Franco Zeffirelli refused to allow his film shown in the same festival as Scorsese's ostensibly blasphemous film. Church groups around the world protested its release, others called it anti-Semitic, and one theater in Paris was firebombed during a showing.

In 1990, Scorsese released Goodfellas, an Italian-American gangster drama set in the Little Italy of his childhood. The film, starring Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta, became one of his best-loved movies and earned Scorsese his third Best Director Academy Award nomination, though he lost yet again. (Scorsese's six-year marriage to producer Barbara DeFina, who worked with him on Goodfellas, ended in 1991.) He followed that up with a string of commercially successful films including Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, and Casino, as well as smaller and less-seen films such as 1997's Kundun, about the early life of the Dalai Lama, a four-hour documentary about American cinema called A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. He married his fifth wife, Helen Morris, in 1999. Daughter Francesca Scorsese was born later. The couple remains married.

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