best film:  Pulp Fiction by an eyelash over Taxi Driver,  I’m sticking to my top 100 list and I have Pulp Fiction #25 and Taxi Driver #34. Those two masterpieces are so close it’s not worth debating. I’d give the edge to QT’s film. Keitel has been in some of cinema’s greatest films. If you’re looking for films he’s starring in you could go with Mean Streets or The Piano or even Reservoir Dogs. He’s part of the scenery mostly and larger ensemble but other masterpieces he’s in include the Wes Anderson films: Grand Budapest and Moonrise Kingdom. Keitel is only in about 5 minutes of Pulp Fiction but I adore him in it as “The Wolf”. You can’t just have any actor in that role. You need stature. Tarantino is very smart to use Keitel.

best performance:  Mean Streets but it’s actually closer than people think. Bad Lieutenant has had a second and third life thanks to VSH, DVD and now Bluray—he’s incredible in it- such a bold performance (key word with Keitel). It’s Mean Streets though that I think has aged so wonderfully. For decades it’s been De Niro who caught everyone’s eye (and rightly so- he’s a whirlwind) but I prefer Keitel’s performance in the film. It’s the main reason (though he certainly is no one-hit wonder—I mean look at that body of work below) he’s in the top 50.

stylistic innovations/traits: Keitel is an actor unafraid of taking chances. It doesn’t work in Alice (very miscast), who the hell knows what happened with Apocalypse Now, and the accent (or lack thereof) gets poked fun of in both The Duelists and Last Temptation of Christ—but if you’re selling you’re Keitel stock as an all-time actor- I’ll gladly buy it. There’s plenty of times when his risks have paid off. He took a chance on first time filmmakers like Tarantino, Ridley Scott and Schrader, stands on his head in Bad Lieutenant, and continued to work with bold auteurs (Roeg, Spike, Campion, Wes) into the 90’s and beyond. I won’t even play the “what-if” game with Martin Sheen’s role in Apocalypse. There’s too much “good” here to worry about what could have been. Outside of his top 5 performances he’s very good in Bugsy (oddly enough his sole nomination) and Thelma and Louise, too.

directors worked with:   Scorsese (4) and this is key partnership—I think he’s great in Taxi Driver as the “Scar” character. Ridley Scott (2), Tarantino (2), Wes Anderson (2) and then Altman, Roeg, Spike Lee and Jane Campion once

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Mean Streets
  2. Bad Lieutenant
  3. Reservoir Dogs
  4. The Piano
  5. Blue Collar

Archiveable films

1973- Mean Streets
1974- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
1976- Buffalo Bill and the Indians
1976- Taxi Driver
1978- Blue Collar
1978- The Duelists
1980- Bad Timing
1988- The Last Temptation of Christ
1991- Bugsy
1991- Mortal Thoughts
1991- Thelma and Louise
1992- Bad Lieutenant
1992- Reservoir Dogs
1993- The Piano
1994- Pulp Fiction
1995- Clockers
1995- Ulysses Gaze
2012- Moonrise Kingdom
2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel