The directorÃ¢â‚¬â€who just snagged a DGA award this weekend (making him nearly a lock for his first Oscar later this month)Ã¢â‚¬â€named one of his Ã¢â‚¬Å“DepartedÃ¢â‚¬? characters Ben Queenan, and, as Tarrytown humorist (and occasional film critic) Joe Queenan points out, Queenan isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly a common surname. So what gives? Was Scorcese writing an homage to Queenan? Well, considering the celluloid Queenan gets thrown off a rooftop to his gory deathÃ¢â‚¬Â¦probably not.
Which is why Queenan says his friends began asking if he had ever written anything nasty about the acclaimed filmmaker. And apparently, he had. 16 years ago. Commenting on “Taxi Driver,” Queenan noted it was a bit unnerving to watch the director (in a memorable cameo) talk about blowing off his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It’s amazing that Scorsese has had four dates, let alone four marriages,” Queenan says he wrote.
He admits now:
<blockquote><div>This was not at all nice. Worse, in a subsequent article, I questioned why Scorsese would cast his then-current girlfriend Illeana Douglas as a naive legal secretary who has her face ravaged during a savage beating by De Niro in Cape Fear. Frankly, it didn’t seem very chivalrous. It might make a girl start wondering if the relationship was still on an even keel.</div></blockquote>
And if indeed Scorsese, one of cinemaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s greatest directors (who, for the record, I have no problem with whatsoever) is also one of cinemaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most vindictive personalities (and also has one of its greatest memories) and did indeed toss one of his detractors from a metaphorical building, what does Queenan think about that?
<blockquote><div>I am not only honouredÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I am also chastened. There are rules of engagement in journalism, a code to live by, and no matter what one may think of a director’s work, no one has the right to talk about his mother, his wives, or his former girlfriends. Even if one of them gets her face chewed up on screen.</div></blockquote>
(Photo of Joe Queenan by Mark Vergari/ The Journal News 6/12/01; photo of Martin Scorcese by Michael Sawyer/AP)