Forget about the “Oldfellas” jokes: News that Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro might reunite for a mob movie is enough to put a smile on even Travis Bickle’s mug.
Scorsese, in Berlin for the premiere of his latest flick, “Shutter Island,” told reporters over the weekend that he and his “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver” star are discussing working together for the first time since “Casino” was released in 1995.
"Bob De Niro (and I) are talking about something that has to do with that (mob) world," Scorsese said.
"There's no doubt about that. We're working on something like that, but it's from the vantage point of older men looking back, none of this running around stuff."
Sounds good to us. For all the action in many of the eight Scorsese-De Niro pairings, the flicks are primarily driven by the characters’ inner turmoil. Nobody does this smoldering act better than De Niro, especially in Scorsese films where the constant threat of angry, brutal eruptions is more disturbing than the portrayal of physical violence (and that’s saying a lot considering the still nightmare-inducing bloodshed that pulses through “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull.”)
There’s certainly a voice in many movie fans’ heads – a voice Scorsese and De Niro probably have heard as well – saying the two movie greats should let well enough along, that neither has anything more to prove together or apart. The duo built a legacy of eight films over 22 years, beginning with “Mean Streets” – why mess with that?
Only last month, De Niro and Scorsese’s current screen favorite Leonardo DiCaprio presented the director with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes – one of those honors in which Hollywood says, in essence, “Good job. Now go away and let us remember you as you were.”
But Scorsese’s clearly far from his final roll of the credits, especially as he's become seemingly re-invigorated by working with DiCaprio (the director told Access Hollywood this month he'd like to make a movie starring De Niro and DiCaprio). Scorsese and De Niro, both in the latter half of their sixties, share a drive to keep working and a willingness to take chances.
Scorsese’s range stretches from comedy (“After Hours”) to period pieces (“The Age of Innocence”) to concert films (“The Last Waltz,” “Shine a Light”) to over-the-top epics (“The Gangs of New York”). De Niro works almost constantly, bouncing from genre to genre – even if he hasn’t always made the best choices (“Frankenstein”).
It’s a good bet Scorsese and De Niro are mulling a reunion not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because of the challenge. They clearly understand the force that pushed Jake LaMotta back into the ring, knowing that punishment was guaranteed, but glory far from certain. “You never got me down, Ray,” De Niro’s LaMotta famously tells Sugar Ray Robinson after being beaten bloody.
Scorsese and De Niro are still standing and ready for the next bout. If they’re talking to us, it will be well worth listening – and watching.
U.S. & World
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.