Masters of cinema: Scorsese's gangster films from 'Mean Streets' to 'The Irishman'

Course Dates: 01/11/20 - 08/11/20
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online

Mean Streets is indelibly imprinted on the memory of anyone who saw it at the time while The Irishman dares connect the mob to Kennedy’s assassination. This is the fifth Scorsese movie about an Irish mobster after The Departed, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas and Casino. Scorsese is the very embodiment of cinema, one who makes movies as if his life depended on it and film history was part of his DNA.

This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


What is the course about?

Mean Streets already contained the elements that make Martin Scorsese unique in modern cinema: keen awareness of his origins, deep knowledge and love of cinema, and an existential anxiety, embodied in characters who inspire terror as well as compassion. Scorsese worked on a few movies before 1973 (he was even at Woodstock as an assistant director), but once he helmed Mean Streets his life was never the same. It's the first movie where he had complete creative control. It may not get as much airtime as Goodfellas or even Casino these days, but without Mean Streets neither of those movies would exist.
Martin Scorsese didn't get a Best Director Academy Award for Goodfellas. They gave it to Dances With Wolves. He also didn't get one for Taxi Driver, Mean Streets or Raging Bull. The Academy didn't give him a single statue until 2007 when he finally won his Oscar for The Departed after several failures such as Casino in 1995.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Trademarks: Scorsese focuses on protagonists outside the mainstream. His works are character studies. He is skilful at creating the look and feel of a particular time and place. He has a gift for eliciting the best performances and superior acting. An NYU film school graduate, Scorsese is adept about film’s technical possibilities and experimented widely. His films typically feature significant musical choices as an artistic feature. Even his most serious films have a dark humour underneath the violence. A Scorsese film is usually a version of a revisionist genre. However, overall, the humanity Scorsese brings to his films is compelling. And, finally, we will see how his protagonists often suffer for who they are.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

List Scorsese’s key gangster films and where they fit in his filmography
Identify Sorsese's film influences
Situate Scorsese among his contemporaries: Spielberg, Coppola, Lucas and De Palma.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

All levels. For those who enjoy viewing and discussing films and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Introductory lecture followed by group work; viewing film extracts.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Notepad or device to take notes.
Tutor will provide readings with links to extracts for further research.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

See our film studies classes under History, Culture and Writing/film studies at

Tutor Biographies
John Wischmeyer

John Wischmeyer (MA in Film Theory) set up, ran and programmed his own cinema in West London and has since taught film studies at the former Gainsborough studio, the BFI and City Lit since 1999, Hitchcock’s centenary year. John has covered a wide range film topics under the banner ‘Cinema Investigates America’ and has a particular interest in and considerable knowledge of Hitchcock, Hollywood studios, American independent cinema and film noir, film technique and style.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HF065

Sun, day, 01 Nov - 08 Nov '20

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Full fee: £59.00
Senior fee: £47.00
Concession: £36.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.