Scorsese and De Niro’s collaboration marks 50 years with new movie release

Back in 2018, The Irishman hit our screens and Robert De Niro told reporters that was it. The 10th collaboration between De Niro and Martin Scorsese came out 45 years after the first. It also featured their other long-time collaborators Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. All four men were in their late 70s and if they were bank managers or lawyers, they would have retired to the golf course years before. It was a good way to take that final bow.

Except… That’s not how artists work. Stephen King still churns out best sellers at the age of 75. Willie Nelson is still touring and he will be 90 in a few weeks! They don’t do it through necessity, they do it because it’s what they do. So it is that this year, De Niro and Scorsese’s collaboration will celebrate 50 years. They will mark the anniversary with the release of a new movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, which is due for release in May. 

Back where it all began

Can you name Scorsese and De Niro’s first collaboration? No, it wasn’t Taxi Driver, that came out in 1976. They first teamed up in 1973 for Mean Streets, a crime drama set in the Little Italy area of New York. De Niro plays a young man who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, preferring gambling to working and shrugging off his increasing debt to loan sharks with untroubled indifference. 

Mean Streets was well received and picked up a handful of awards without setting the world on fire. Today, it’s somewhat overlooked in the Scorsese / De Niro canon. Perhaps now, 50 years on, is a good time for it to get the recognition it deserves. 

Casino and the Golden Years

Let’s be clear, all 10 of the projects that Scorsese and De Niro have worked on together have delivered excellent movies, and there’s no reason to doubt that Killers of the Flower Moon will be worth the wait. But nothing can transcend the period in the 1990s that started with Goodfellas and culminated in Casino. 

History has shown that the timing could not have been better for Casino. For one thing, at 52, Di Niro was just the right age to play the gambling expert who has seen it all. Secondly, in the real world, interest in casinos in the US was at fever pitch. The internet had just arrived and with it had come online gambling. It was rife with risk and uncertainty. The US online casino world was nothing like it is today, with the professionally operated, externally licensed online platforms that you see listed at Back in the days before resources like this, the online casino sector really was like the Wild West. Today, it could not be more different.

Going full circle with Killers of the Flower Moon

Strangely enough, the Wild West is exactly where the new Scorsese / De Niro movie is set. It also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, whose production company, Appian Way, is apparently sharing production duties with Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions.
Originally scheduled for release in 2020, everything was pushed back two years for obvious reasons and the film has undergone some significant changes in that time.  Yet as it turns out, the timing could not be better. If this really is to be Scorsese and De Niro’s final collaboration, then releasing it 50 years after the first has a certain elegance to it. However, we would, of course remind Messrs. Scorsese and De Niro of Willie Nelson’s work ethic. Who knows, perhaps we will be anticipating their 12th or lucky 13th collaborations 10 years from now.