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J.R. is a typical Italian-American on the streets of New York. When he gets involved with a local girl, he decides to get married and settle down, but when he learns that she was once raped, he cannot handle it. More explicitly linked with Catholic guilt than Scorsese's later work, we see what happens to J.R. when his religious guilt catches up with him. Written by
David Gibson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Who's That Knocking At My Door?" (1968) is the kind of film where you see it once you'll want to see it again, just to see what you didn't understand. The protagonist is played by Harvey Keitel as J.R., an autobiographical role based loosely on Scorsese's strict Catholic upbringing. And many symbolic Catholic references there are such as the Virgin Mary mini statue reflection in the mirror watching Harvey Keitel's JR as he embraces "The Young Girl" played by Zina Bethune.
Scorsese is so intelligent and inventive with his scenes here; crafty artsiness at its best (like the one where J.R. is having sex with the "broad" in a dream fantasy, but then afterwards flips his cards towards her rejecting her as a sin; she's not a nice virgin who would be a good wife and mother for J.R.; she's just a whore, a "broad", as we listen to The Doors' song 'The End' finish). Marty's own personal style was established in this early film.
Harvey Keitel was 29-years-old when Martin Scorsese's [who was 25] "Who's That Knocking At My Door?" debuted in 1968. This was a full-length feature debut for both actor Keitel and director Scorsese. It was interesting to see this for the first time recently after I had already seen most of Scorsese's later films. His classic trade marks such as the "freeze frame, slow-motion, and classic rock tracks playing on the soundtrack" are all utilized effectively in this early gem. ("Easy Rider" is always the film that is credited as being the originator of playing classic rock tunes on the soundtrack, but "Who's That Knocking At My Door?" wasn't seen by many until it received wide release in 1970, almost three years after it was made.)
For any film school student or aspiring director/screenwriter this is a must see. Mr. Scorsese financed this film on a tight budget. I read somewhere that his film professor from NYU helped him finance it. From the beginning somebody somewhere knew Marty had the talent and could make a good picture. He created a wonderful film; using his own life experience for the story he was able to concoct a great, interesting and personal film. His "Mean Streets" (1973) is a much greater and even more personal film. But "Who's That Knocking At My Door?" was the beginning.
I'm not Catholic but I certainly learn a lot about Catholicism when I watch a Scorsese flick. For instance, take the scene where "The Young Girl" is making dinner at J.R.'s place, she lights up what appears to be just a candle. But to J.R. it is a "Holy Candle" and makes her put it back and replace it with another one. There are many classic scenes in this film, but I don't want to spoil it for you.
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Edited By Thelma Schoonmaker (who would go on to edit almost all of Scorsese's later films). Starring Harvey Keitel as J.R. 90 minutes.
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