26 user 13 critic

The Big Shave (1967)

Not Rated | | Short, Drama, Horror | October 1968 (USA)
In the process of shaving, a young man cuts himself. A lot.


Martin Scorsese


Martin Scorsese
1 win. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Peter Bernuth Peter Bernuth ... Young Man


This short film is a metaphor for the Vietnam War. A man walks into a meticulously clean and sterile bathroom, concentrating on the polished porcelain and shiny metal motif. He then proceeds to shave. When his face is clean, however, he only continues to shave until he pierces through his skin. Blood covers him and falls around him, the red contrasting the perfect spotlessness of the bathroom. Written by Joseph D. Guernsey

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama | Horror


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This film is included in the "Martin Scorsese Shorts" set, released by the Criterion Collection, spine #1,030. See more »

Crazy Credits

Whiteness - Herman Melville See more »

Alternate Versions

Some prints allegedly contain a final title card connecting the film to the Vietnam War, though such prints are no longer in circulation, nor is it on the videocassette version. See more »


Featured in Scene by Scene: Martin Scorsese (1998) See more »

User Reviews

Early Scorsese shorts (inc. The Big Shave)
10 August 2009 | by josephsealSee all my reviews

When watching Martin Scorsese's first footsteps into film-making it occurs that only a very fortunate few might have experienced these cinematic nuggets before encountering the behemoth output he has since delivered. Made during his time at New York University, the three films serve as an indicator of what would follow with Scorsese at the helm of feature films such as Mean Streets and Taxi Driver in the coming ten years. Mutilation, straight- talking male buddies and ennui are themes honed in the Italian American's earliest works, Scorsese hallmarks easily identifiable for any self-respecting fan of American cinema viewing the films today.

Influences we are readily familiar with thanks to documentaries such as My Voyage to Italy and his Personal Journey Through American Movies are boldly recognisable; from the incendiary Colonel Blimp hunting sequence aped with the use of home furnishings in What's a Nice Girl..., to the swift use of editing throughout that reminds us of Messieurs Godard and Truffaut (or should that be Monsieur Coutard?). Scorsese is known as a director who wears his influences on his sleeve and the beginnings of that trait are present even here. The Big Shave's less than subtle metaphor for America's self-destructiveness at war with Vietnam is indicative of the vitality of the New American Cinema's outlook, whilst exhibiting a flair for dark humour and a confident use of music that points to the revolutionary works that were to come.

With these three short films Scorsese leaves an early legacy neither tentative or deliberately artsy, but confident and forthright, establishing an air of cool that has never left the director.

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Release Date:

October 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Shave See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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