Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street isn't just a chronicle of rampant douchebaggery. It's a two-hour-and-59-minute chronicle of rampant douchebaggery. That's close enough to the three-hour breaking point to make Wolf the longest non-documentary feature of Scorsese's 46 years making movies. It even inches past the formidable Casino, another flashy depiction of glamorous people finding ever more sinful ways to continue looking glamorous, by a single minute (or two, if you trust IMDB's count over Wikipedia's).
Lengthy runtimes, of course, are hardly a new development for Scorsese, who hasn't made a film that clocks in under two hours since he directed the sorely underrated After Hours in 1985. But it hasn't always been this way; the best of his seventies masterpieces, Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, were 112 and 113 minutes respectively. And settling on the length of Wolf, which was recently reported to be two hours and 45 minutes, seems to have been particularly fraught. And does it really warrant the title of longest? (Maybe not.)
We've revisited some of Scorsese's other longest films to identify what he could have added to push them past the DiCaprio-studded breaking point, had the director been allowed the room that Wolf provided him. (And save your breath: we realize My Voyage to Italy and A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies both fall around the four-hour mark. We're purposefully excluding Scorsese's documentaries, which
we haven't seen aren't necessarily meant to be viewed in one sitting or by way of a wide-scale theatrical release.)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Actual running time: 164 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: 20 minutes of Willem Dafoe being beaten and flogged beyond reason, had Scorsese approached the story with Mel Gibson's sensibility.
Too long, not long enough, or just right? We can live without those 20 extra minutes, actually.
Actual running time: 146 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: The Guinness World Record for longest tracking shot following Ray Liotta as he steps out of his house, gets in his car, and drives all the way to the airport, set to a 35-minute loop of just the bass line from Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire."
Too long, not long enough, or just right? I mean, we wouldn't necessarily be opposed to a three-hour 25th anniversary director's cut in 2015...
Actual running time: 178 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: Literally just 120 more seconds of Joe Pesci putting some guy's head in a vice. On second thought, we don't need that. Okay, how about two more minutes of Martin Scorsese's adorable mom? Everyone loves Martin Scorsese's mom.
Too long, not long enough, or just right? Just right. Those 32 extra minutes help deflect "This is just Goodfellas set in Las Vegas!" barbs. Also, Casino's 178 minutes were enough for it to top Goodfellas as the Scorsese film featuring the most uses of the word "fuck," which pops up 398 times. Here's proof:
Gangs of New York (2002)
Actual running time: 166 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: Those who have seen the three-and-a-half-hour original cut don't have to imagine. One early version reportedly featured no voiceover narration and was therefore "plainer and therefore more cinematic."
Too long, not long enough, or just right? Too long. Producer Harvey Weinstein was right to demand cuts, and the latter half, after Amsterdam's identity is exposed, could still use some trimming. (But please, don't cut the part where Daniel Day-Lewis calls someone a "meat-headed shit-sack.")
The Aviator (2004)
Actual running time: 169 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: Eleven more minutes of panning across Howard Hughes' urine jars.
Too long, not long enough, or just right? Too long.
The Departed (2006)
Actual running time: 151 minutes.
What could have pushed it to three hours: A climactic end-of-film supercut of every character that appears in the film and miraculously isn't violently
killed whacked in its last half hour being violently whacked. Resolution!
Too long, not long enough, or just right? Just right. (Be warned: any longer and Matt Damon's laughable Boston accent becomes contagious.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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