Martin Scorsese did a four hour interview with Fast Company last year for the December/January issue. In the interview he talked a lot about the business of making films and how he's managed to stay in it and remain relevant for so long.
Over the four hours, Scorsese referenced 85 "films you need to see to know anything about film." Some films he briefly mentioned, and others he spoke about more in depth. Fast Company compiled a list which includes his direct quotes about the films where applicable, and which provides brief descriptions of the films when quotes weren't available. This list is being blogged about as a unique film list that's almost like the ultimate film course designed by a legendary filmmaker. There are some omissions noted by the ArtInfo blog, but they do recognize that he couldn't list every influential film in history.
Here's the beginning of Scorsese's list. Go to Fast Company for the complete list.
Ace in the Hole: "This Billy Wilder film was so tough and brutal in its cynicism that it died a sudden death at the box office, and they re-released it under the title Big Carnival, which didn’t help. Chuck Tatum is a reporter who’s very modern--he’ll do anything to get the story, to make up the story! He risks not only his reputation, but also the life of this guy who’s trapped in the mine." 1951
All That Heaven Allows: In this Douglas Sirk melodrama, Rock Hudson plays a gardener who falls in love with a society widow played by Jane Wyman. Scandale! 1955
America, America: Drawn directly from director Elia Kazan’s family history, this film offers a passionate, intense view of the challenges faced by Greek immigrants at the end of the 19th century. 1963
An American in Paris: This Vincente Minnelli film, with Gene Kelly, picked up the idea of stopping within a film for a dance from The Red Shoes. 1951
Apocalypse Now: This Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece is from a period when directors like Brian DePalma, John Milius, Paul Schrader, Scorsese and others had great freedom—freedom that they then lost. 1979
Arsenic and Old Lace: Scorsese is a big fan of many Frank Capra movies, and this Cary Grant vehicle is one of several that he’s enjoyed with his family at his office screening room. 1944
The Bad and the Beautiful: Vincente Minnelli directed this film about a cynical Hollywood mogul trying to make a comeback. It stars Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon and Dick Powell. 1952
The Band Wagon: “It’s my favorite of the Vincente Minnelli musicals. I love the storyline that combines Faust and a musical comedy, and the disaster that results. Tony Hunter, the lead character played by Fred Astaire, is a former vaudeville dancer whose time has passed, and who’s trying to make it on Broadway, which is a very different medium of course. By the time the movie was made, the popularity of the Astaire/Rogers films had waned, raising the question of what are you going to do with Fred Astaire in Technicolor? So, really, Tony Hunter is Fred Astaire--his whole reputation is on the line, and so was Fred Astaire’s.” 1953
Born on the Fourth of July: Produced by Universal Pictures under Tom Pollock and Casey Silver, this Tom Cruise movie (directed by Oliver Stone) was an example of how that studio “wanted to make special pictures,” says Scorsese. 1989
Cape Fear: As he once explained to Stephen Spielberg over dinner in Tribeca, one of Scorsese’s fears about directing a remake of this film was that, “The original was so good. I mean, you’ve got Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, it’s terrific!” 1962
See more at Fast Company.