Martin Scorsese's attempt at making an old-fashioned musical, NEW YORK, NEW YORK never found much of an audience, but remains a visually fascinating rumination on the genre.
New York City. 1945. USO singer Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) and aspiring sax player Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro) meet cute during the V-J Day revelry, audition for a job together, and later end up in the employ of big band leader Frankie Harte (Georgie Auld, who dubbed De Niro's sax playing),
falling deeply in love and marrying. Jimmy eventually takes over Harte's band, and when Francine returns to New York to have their baby, he becomes involved with her replacement singer (Mary Kay Place). Francine and Jimmy have a son, but in time their marriage disintegrates as Francine becomes a
hit recording artist (singing the kind of tunes her husband despises) and film star, while Jimmy turns to jazz and later opens his own club, en route to the film's distinctly downbeat ending.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK cost almost $9 million, and it's uneven in spots--the result of being drastically edited from its original four-hour length (among the slashes was the 12-minute, $300,000 "Happy Endings" production number, later reinserted for the film's 1981 rerelease). Nevertheless, the film
is a treat for the ears as well as the eyes. De Niro gives an outstanding performance, masterfully conveying Jimmy's vanity, selfishness, and egotism. Minnelli is nothing less than brilliant, more than deserving of an Oscar nomination that never came her way. Place (THE BIG CHILL, television's
"Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman") got her first big break here, and longtime Roger Corman favorite Miller, comic Gaines, and rotund Memmoli all contribute fine work. leave a comment