Martin Scorsese has turned his camera on the legacy of glam rock, as embodied by the famed band the New York Dolls.
Oscar winner Scorsese and Emmy nominee David Tedeschi (“The 50 Year Argument”) co-direct documentary “Personality Crisis: One Night Only” about music legend and New York Dolls frontman David Johansen. The synopsis reads: Framed around an intimate cabaret performance filmed in January 2020 at New York City’s storied Café Carlyle, the film explores the life and musical transformations of New York Dolls frontman David Johansen’s enormous influence as he regales the audience with stories and music illuminating the art and cultural evolution of New York City.
“Vegetarian, gay, straight; I just wanted to bring those walls down and have a party,” Johansen says in the trailer.
Scorsese has helmed multiple documentaries, especially centered on rock ‘n roll. Past docs include “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” “Shine a Light,” “The Last Waltz,” and most recently “Pretend It’s a City.”
“I’ve known David Johansen for decades, and his music has been a touchstone ever since I listened to the Dolls when I was making ‘Mean Streets,’” Scorsese said in a press statement. “Then and now, David’s music captures the energy and excitement of New York City. I often see him perform, and over the years I’ve gotten to know the depth of his musical inspirations.”
The “Wolf of Wall Street” director added, “After seeing his show at the Café Carlyle, I knew I had to film it because it was so extraordinary to see the evolution of his life and his musical talent in such an intimate setting.”
Scorsese and Tedeschi worked with frequent collaborators including cinematographer Ellen Kuras (“American Utopia”) and producer Margaret Bodde to capture Johansen’s Café Carlyle set, where he performs as his alter ego Buster Poindexter singing the songs of David Johansen. Presented alongside new and archival interviews, including several filmed by Johansen’s daughter Leah Hennessey, the intimate concert is a testament to both a lost New York and a gifted performer/raconteur who remains as provocative as ever, per the logline.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called the film a “sweet and sappy homage” to a rockstar and likened Johansen to a “Mick Jagger for outsiders” in his otherworldly, larger-than-life presence.
“Personality Crisis: One Night Only” is executive produced by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The film is produced for Showtime by Imagine Documentaries and Sikelia Productions. Scorsese also serves as a producer alongside Margaret Bodde, Justin Wilkes, and Sara Bernstein. Executive producers are Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Mara Hennessey, Rick Yorn, and Vinnie Malhotra.
The documentary debuted at the 2022 New York Film Festival, where Scorsese teased audiences can “have all the crises you want for one night” watching it.
“Personality Crisis: One Night Only” premieres Friday, April 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.
Check out the trailer below.