A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
The possibilities in creating an independent feature film in this country are abundantly illustrated by "Who's That Knocking at My Door?," a first work by Martin Scorsese that has been knocking around for nearly two years now. I first saw it in November 1967, at the Chicago Film Festival, when it was titled "I Call First." I found it a marvelous evocation of American city life, announcing the arrival of an important new director.
To be sure, Scorsese was occasionally too obvious, and the film has serious structural flaws, but nobody who loves movies believes a perfect one will ever be made. What we hope for instead are small gains on the fronts of hope, love, comedy and tragedy. It is possible that with more experience and maturity Scorsese will direct more polished, finished films--but this work, completed when he was 25, contains a frankness he may have diluted by then.
The movies, in their compulsion to be contemporary, too often give us an unreal picture of "swinging youth." We get discotheques, anti-establishment cliches, New London fashions and Christopher Jones being cooler at 21 than we hope to be by 50. If we like these films, it is because we identify with them--not because they understand us. In "Who's That Knocking," Scorsese deals with young manhood on a much more truthful level.
Here are no swingers making it with Yvette Mimieux, no graduates seduced by Anne Bancroft. Instead, we enter a world of young Italian-Americans in New York City who sit around and kill time and look at Playboy and cruise around in a buddy's car listening to the Top 40 and speculating aimlessly about where the action is, or might be, or ever was.