Sunday, November 06, 2011
WHEN SUFFERING ANOTHER NIGHT'S INSOMNIA...
...what better than to watch a movie about a guy who looks like he hasn't slept in ten years? One of the most obscure titles in the Martin Scorsese filmography, American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince (1978) was probably just a quick cine-fix for the director in the middle of his manic post-Taxi Driver/pre-Raging Bull period, but, like pretty much every one of his documentaries, it's highly entertaining and more compelling than some of his "real" pictures. (Would you rather watch this or New York, New York? I know which one I'd choose...) All this is is 53 minutes of mostly sordid anecdotes told by the guy who played small-arms dealer Easy Andy in Taxi Driver, a peripheral (or, as he would say, "periphial") figure if ever there was one - you get the distinct impression that his function in Scorsese's circle in those days had little to do with acting - but he knows how to tell a story. In fact, for such a little-known film, its influence down the years is pretty impressive - one tale served as the basis for a well-known scene in Pulp Fiction, another was reenacted (and re-told by Prince himself) in Richard Linklater's 2001 Waking Life, and I think that shirt he's wearing turns up in Boogie Nights somewhere. I was under the impression that Google Video was no more, but evidently not, so here it is in non-chopped-up-YouTube form for your delectation.
(WARNING: Contains footage of George Memmoli with his shirt half-off.)
American Boy also holds the distinction of being the only Scorsese film to date to inspire a sequel - much to the surprise of anyone who's seen the above, Prince is still around thirty-plus years later, and still chatty as hell. Waking Life producer Tommy Pallotta spent a further hour in his company and came away with American Prince (2009), which is as compelling in its way as its predecessor - maybe even more so, since it gives him the opportunity to tell tales of/on Scorsese, Taxi Driver, Liza Minnelli, etc. Film-geek ambrosia, in other words. Dig it: