Who's That Knocking at My Door?

Overview

Shot over a period of several years and shown under the alternate titles I Call First and J.R., Martin Scorsese's debut feature is an autobiographical look at the conflicted life of a young, Italian-American, Catholic man in early 1960s New York. J.R. then-unknown Harvey Keitel spends his days and nights hanging out with his buddies in Little Italy, going to the movies, goofing around, and looking to score with "broads." When he meets The Girl Zina Bethune on the Staten Island ferry, she rocks his world with a ...
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Overview

Shot over a period of several years and shown under the alternate titles I Call First and J.R., Martin Scorsese's debut feature is an autobiographical look at the conflicted life of a young, Italian-American, Catholic man in early 1960s New York. J.R. then-unknown Harvey Keitel spends his days and nights hanging out with his buddies in Little Italy, going to the movies, goofing around, and looking to score with "broads." When he meets The Girl Zina Bethune on the Staten Island ferry, she rocks his world with a shared admiration for John Ford's The Searchers 1956. A blond WASP beauty, the girl is more sophisticated than J.R.'s parochial friends and shows him that there's more to life than the neighborhood. J.R. falls in love, yet he refuses to soil her by sleeping with her. The girl, however, reveals that she is not a virgin because of a date rape. Locked in his Catholic virgin-whore complex, J.R. is disgusted by the revelation, but, after a squalid evening with his friends, J.R. decides to do the righteous thing by forgiving and marrying her. The girl will have none of it, leaving J.R. to sort out his prejudices on his own. Originally conceived as part of a trilogy with what would become Mean Streets 1973, the black-and-white Who's That Knocking already has the acute grasp of daily life, fluid camera movements, and vivid editing of images to music such as the slo-mo scuffle to the lilting "El Watusi" that would define Scorsese's later work. Despite a successful debut at the 1967 Chicago Film Festival, no distributor picked up the film until a soft porn distributor agreed to release it if Scorsese added a nude scene. By the time, Who's That Knocking was finally released in 1969, with J.R.'s sexy fantasy accompanied by The Doors's "The End," the loose counterculture mood had made the focus on sexual repression seem out-of-date.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Who's That Knocking at My Door? opens with Catherine Scorsese baking a pork calzone. A pop tune plays loudly on the soundtrack, while outside her apartment a fistfight suddenly breaks out. If ever there were a case of a director laying out his emotional and visual territory in his first feature film, this is it. Martin Scorsese's first feature-length film, which was filmed off and on for a period of five years, features Catholic guilt, sexual repression, guys hanging out, unexpected violence and, in its very first scene, Scorsese's mother cooking. These are the elements that would, in one form or another, appear in practically all of the director's future work. Not only were the themes to become familiar, but the film-making technique employed in Who's That Knocking at My Door? would become Scorsese's signature style. Pop tunes on the soundtrack, a restless camera, New York location shooting, and editing rhythms borrowed from the French New Wave are all present here as they would be throughout his career. Harvey Keitel, for all practical purposes in his first film, reveals his character's internal conflict with an economy of words, a skill that would become his specialty. His superb work in films as varied as Fingers, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bad Lieutenant can be traced directly to this debut performance. In the scene where he picks up "The Girl," he displays the charm that viewers would see again in Smoke and The Piano. It is a rare privilege to see two great artists collaborate on their first work. If for no other reason, Who's That Knocking at My Door? holds a secure place in film history for being exactly that.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/1/1998
  • UPC: 085391158233
  • Original Release: 1968
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Zina Bethune Young Girl
Harvey Keitel J.R.
Lennard Kuras Joey
Ann Colette Young Girl in Dream
Michael Scala Sally
Harry Northrup Hany
Phil Carlson Guide
Paul de Blonde Waiter
Saskia Holleman Dream Girl
Maelssa Jaffrey Rosie
Vic Magnotta Waiter
Marieka Dream Girl
Bill Minkin Iggy/Radio Announcer
Wendy Russell Gaga's Small Friend
Catherine Scorsese J.R.'s Mother
Martin Scorsese Gangster
Robert Uricola Anned Young Man
Susan Wood Susan
Tsuai Yu-Lan Dream Girl
Technical Credits
Martin Scorsese Director, Screenwriter
Richard Coll Cinematographer
Vic Magnotta Art Director
Thelma Schoonmaker Editor
Michael Wadleigh Cinematographer
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