Made a year after the wildly gritty Taxi Driver, and under an allegedly chaotic production, Scorsese’s homage to and deconstruction of the classic Hollywood musical casts Liza Minnelli as a 1940s singer whose rocky relationship with Robert De Niro’s temperamental jazz saxophonist sputters as her career ascends. The director channels that Dream Factory feeling through patently artificial soundstage sets and showstopping, movie-within-a-movie musical numbers. But it’s the raw emotional realism—embodied by Minnelli and De Niro’s vivid, intense performances—that makes this so much more than a nostalgia trip. The high point, of course, is Minnelli belting Kander and Ebb’s iconic title song (written for the movie!): a moment that feels as iconic as the MGM warhorses Scorsese clearly loves.