The Martin Scorsese Movies That Defined Robert De Niro's Career

The Martin Scorsese Movies That Defined Robert De Niro's Career

December 8, 2018

We’re going to ask you to don your thinking caps for a minute with this question: Name a better director/actor tandem in Hollywood history than Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. Go on. We’ll wait. De Niro’s best movie roles almost completely overlap with Scorsese’s legendary films. You might be able to argue Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson; Tim Burton and Johnny Depp; Wes Anderson and Bill Murray; Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine; or Woody Allen and Diane Keaton surpass the Scorsese-De Niro dyad, but you’d have your work cut out for you. We’re taking a look at the Martin Scorsese movies that define De Niro’s career, but first, we’ll discuss how each one started in show business.

How did Martin Scorsese get started in show business?

Isabella Rossellini (left) and Martin Scorsese in 1979. | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After being born in Queens in 1942, Scorsese grew up in Manhattan with parents who were both part-time actors, according to Biography. His childhood asthma prevented him from playing sports, so one of his favorite pastimes was watching movies and creating his own.

Scorsese eventually graduated from New York University in 1966 with a master’s degree in fine art. His first feature film, Who’s That Knocking on My Door, played in theaters in 1967. That film wasn’t a smash hit, but 1972 offering Boxcar Bertha ushered in a practically unbroken string of stellar movies.

What was Robert De Niro’s early life like?

When De Niro plays a wise-beyond-his-years tough guy, is he really playing a part? Because his early life was very much like that. Like Scorsese, he was born in New York City, but a year later in 1943.

De Niro attended New York City public schools, joined an Italian street gang, and dropped out of high school in 1960 to pursue his acting dream, according to Biography. Based on his lengthy and legendary career, we’d say he made the right choice.

Which Martin Scorsese movies defined Robert De Niro’s career?

Between 1973 and 1995, Scorsese and De Niro collaborated eight times. Their ninth movie together, The Irishman, hits theaters in 2019. In addition to directing and acting, respectively, they are both producing the movie. The other eight films on which De Niro and Scorsese worked together are:

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, an early Martin Scorsese movie. | Columbia Pictures Corporation

  • Mean Streets (1973)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • New York, New York (1977)
  • Raging Bull (1980)
  • The King of Comedy (1982)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Cape Fear (1991)
  • Casino (1995)

It’s not a stretch to say Scorsese movies are the backbone of De Niro’s successful career and help boost his staggering net worth.

Of De Niro’s seven acting Academy Award nominations, three are for Scorsese films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Cape Fear. He won the Oscar for best actor in 1981 for Raging Bull.

In addition to the Academy Awards success, four of De Niro’s nine Golden Globe nominations are Martin Scorsese movies: Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull (for which he won), and Cape Fear. De Niro picked up a BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscars) acting nomination in 1984 for The King of Comedy.

What are their most successful movies?

Robert De Niro (left) stars in some of the best Martin Scorsese movies. | Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Considering the Martin Scorsese movies starring Robert De Niro are among the all-time classics (Metacritic calls Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas must-see movies), it shouldn’t be surprising to see their collaborations earned a ton at the box office.

When adjusted for inflation, three of the duo’s movies earned more than $100 million at the box office in 2018 dollars.

5. Raging Bull (1980)

Box office total: $79.3 million

4. Casino (1995)

Box office total: $89.1 million

3. Goodfellas (1990)

Box office total: $101.2 million

2. Taxi Driver (1976)

Box office total: $119.1 million

1. Cape Fear (1991)

Box office total: $172.4 million

Without accounting for inflation, those five movies earned more than $219 at the box office. All told, Martin Scorsese movies have hauled in over $1 billion at the theaters.

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