‘The Irishman’ and the Worst Movies By Scorsese, Spielberg and Other Great Directors

The Irishman is now on Netflix for viewers everywhere to see Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama. Scorsese had to forego a traditional theatrical release when studios passed on making his latest film, although Netflix did release The Irishman in some theaters November 1. While reviews have been mostly positive, Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s review found The Irishman problematic. Even the greatest directors can’t be perfect.

The Irishman director Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Netflix

The Irishman is not Scorsese’s worst though. He’s had an even greater misstep, and so have most of the world’s great directors. These are some of the worst movies by some of the greatest directors. Hopefully they won’t mind pointing these out since every director has a dud but few have made the beloved classics these filmmakers have.

Martin Scorsese’s musical is worse than ‘The Irishman’

Whatever you think of The Irishman, it’s definitely in Martin Scorsese’s wheelhouse. It’s an epic crime drama covering a mafioso’s life from youth to old age. Whether it works or not, it’s territory Scorsese knows. Musicals are not, and after making New York, New York, Scorsese never tried another musical.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in The Irishman
Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in The Irishman | Netflix

On paper New York, New York looks great. You’ve got Robert De Niro fresh off Taxi Driver and Broadway queen Liza Minnelli, but it’s all very awkward, drawn out at 155 minutes, and after all that time you won’t remember any of the music. 

Steven Spielberg swore off comedy after ‘1941’

Steven Spielberg has been perhaps the most unflappable director in Hollywood. There seems to be nothing he can’t do. He’s the king of blockbuster adventure from Jaws and Indiana Jones to Jurassic Park and Ready Player One. He does serious drama too, from the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List to recent true stories like The Post and Lincoln. He doesn’t do straight comedy though, and this early movie may be why.

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg | Michael Short/Getty Images

1941 had an all star cast including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Tim Matheson, Nancy Allen, Robert Stack, Ned Beatty, Christopher Lee and more. It was a raucous comedy about panic and misadventure after Pearl Harbor and even spoofed Spielberg’s own Jaws. The comic relief in Spielberg’s other movies totally works, but somehow straight comedy fell flat. Maybe they were just trying too hard. He probably should have tried comedy again, but 1941 was a battle Spielberg lost.

Francis Ford Coppola unleashed the horror, the horror of ‘One From the Heart’

While The Irishman director was making his musical, Francis Ford Coppola’s struggle to make Apocalypse Now became legend. When the movie turns out to be Apocalypse Now, perhaps it is more acceptable to go crazy in the jungle. Less attention is ever devoted to his follow-up film, One From the Heart, which proved to be even more disastrous.

Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola | David Livingston/Getty Images

Coppola wanted to make an old school studio musical where the sets were clearly artificial. He vastly overestimated the audience for such artifice. Tom Waits did the music for it, but contributed to an overall lethargic tone. What’s most remarkable is that Coppola burned through all the profits from Apocalypse Now as One From the Heart dragged on. When he released the film it could not recoup the investment, but it is a fascinating look at his singular obsession.

The Coen Brothers were too quirky for their own good in ‘The Ladykillers’

The Coen Brothers have such an almost unquantifiable style that’s it’s often easiest to just describe their movies as “Coen Brothers movies.” From Raising Arizona and Fargo to The Big Lebowski and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coens specialize in quirky characters, even in their serious films like No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man

Coen Brothers
Joel and Ethan Coen | Vera Anderson/WireImage

Their remake of The Ladykillers collapsed under the weight of too much Coen quirk. It should have been great. Tom Hanks leads a cast of bumbling crooks (Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Ryan Hurst, Tzi Ma) thwarted by an old woman (Irma P. Hall). They’re all trying so hard to be memorable Coen movie characters that each one becomes obnoxious and the Coens repeat jokes we’ve seen before.

The curious case of David Fincher’s worst movie

David Fincher would say his worst movie was Alien 3. That’s the one where he was too new to persevere against studio interference and the final product does not reflect his vision. It’s still a solid Alien movie though. Once he made Se7en, all David Fincher films could be pure David Fincher films, for better or worse. Usually they’re for the better, but in one case they’re worse.

David Fincher
David Fincher | David Livingston/Getty Images

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a whimsical epic about a man (Brad Pitt) born old who de-ages throughout his life. Only problem is, his life, which the viewer witnesses over the course of three hours, is a total bore. That’s not quite as long as The Irishman but it’s still too much. The visual effects are astounding but Pitt and Cate Blanchett have nothing to do.

Even Clint Eastwood couldn’t make ‘Firefox’ exciting

Now as a director, Clint Eastwood’s reputation comes from Oscar-winning dramas like Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. Even the ones that don’t win awards are acclaimed like American Sniper and Gran Torino. His early directorial efforts were still exciting action movies like The Gauntlet and The Eiger Sanction.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood | Eric Charbonneau/Warner Bros. Pictures

Firefox was a fizzle though. Eastwood also starred as a pilot on a mission to steal a Russian jet that can be pilots by mind control. Sounds exciting, but it’s very talky and overly long at two hours, 16 minutes which moves so slowly it feels like The Irishman. Eastwood returned to Dirty Harry and westerns but it’s a shame Firefox couldn’t be his James Bond movie.