In 1978, Martin Scorsese shot a brief and casual documentary about his friend Steven Prince called American Boy. Prince was a character. While barely out of his teens, he had worked as a road manager for Neil Diamond, and developed a major heroin dependency. After getting clean (or thereabouts), Prince drifted into Scorsese’s orbit, making a brief cameo appearance as Easy Andy the gun salesman in Taxi Driver. Prince was a weirdly compelling story-teller and raconteur – a figure who wouldn’t be out of place in the loquacious, street-savvy milieu of Scorsese’s pictures – and in American Boy, Marty simply placed him in a casual, party-like environment, and let him tell his stories. The result is a fascinating little film – Prince’s stories turn on a dime from hilarious to harrowing, with a dark edge of urban desperation and self-destructiveness runing through most of them. The film as a whole has the atmosphere of an amphetamine-fuelled all-nighter – the energy and fun tinged with the edgy awareness of hell to be paid somewhere down the pike. Scorsese himself suffered a near-fatal cocaine overdose that same year. Prince’s story of giving an overdosing female friend an impromptu adrenaline shot, which you can hear in the clip below, was subsequently immortalized in the popular culture of the 90s via Quentin Tarantino’s iconic re-telling in Pulp Fiction.
Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6.