Movie Name: Who’s That Knocking at My Door
Studio: Trimod Films
Release Date(s): November 15, 1967
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
J.R. (Harvey Keitel) spends his day working in New York City and hanging out with his friends. When he meets a girl (Zina Bethune), J.R.’s life turns around. J.R. can see a future with this girl and he begins to imagine what life would be like with her. When the girl reveals a secret to J.R., J.R. finds his perfect future might be something that cannot be attained.
Written and directed by Martin Scorsese, Who’s That Knocking at My Door is Scorsese’s first film. The film was shot over a number of years and was known by I Call First, J.R., and Bring on the Dancing Girls over the course of the production which lasted a number of years. The movie was released to relatively positive reviews.
Scorsese has a style and even back in this movie, you can see it starting. The look and feel of movie feels like Scorsese (in addition to being the first film of Scorsese favorite Harvey Keitel). While Scorsese’s later films might be more developed, Who’s That Knocking at My Door is a good start to a long career.
The story is pretty minimal and was even extended with dream sequences (so it could be promoted as a sexploitation film). The movie reminds me a bit of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The “girl” (unnamed in the film) has a secret as a victim of rape, but the J.R. character can’t handle this but still blames her even when he comes to terms with what she told him…this ends in a rather negative resolution when he can’t understand why she won’t accept that he forgives her for something of which she had no control.
Low-budget films often have low-budget actors, but Keitel is good as the young J.R. Keitel often plays a heavy in films so it is nice to see him in a different light here. He has a lot of range in the character and does a good job with the sensitive parts in addition to scenes where his friends are goofing around. Though her role is small, Zina Bethune also does a good job as the girl tortured by her part and she works well with Keitel.
The black-and-white movie has some of the style of Scorsese’s later films. The movie looks good despite its budget, and it does have some style to it. The movie has gratuitous nudity, but as mentioned, it was to attract a bigger (and different) audience.
Who’s That Knocking at My Door is an interesting first film that carries the themes of the director. Scorsese is just starting out here and has a long path ahead of him. The whole New York, Catholic world that J.R. inhabits feels similar to other Scorsese movies so if you like Scorsese, Who’s That Knocking at My Door is worth seeking out.