How could you tell a Steven Prince story in two minutes?
With Levon Helm's passing, the time has come for me to revisit The Last Waltz, so tonight as a warm-up I checked out the other documentary Martin Scorsese completed in 1978: American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince. Best known for playing the gun salesman in Taxi Driver, Prince was such a fascinating figure that essentially all Scorsese had to do was turn Michael Chapman's camera on him and get him to talk about his family and his experiences as a drug addict (which overlapped with his time as Neil Diamond's road manager) to get a good film out of it. As in Italianamerican, Scorsese is an active participant, prodding Prince to tell certain stories (there are a few that he's reluctant to open up about, like how he managed to avoid getting drafted) and winding up in shot almost as much as his subject. And speaking of shots, at one point Prince describes how he had to give a woman who had overdosed on heroin an adrenaline shot, a story later appropriated by Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction. Of course, Prince retold one of his own stories in Richard Linklater's Waking Life, so it's not like he's averse to that sort of thing. It just would have been nice if Tarantino had acknowledged his source.