Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are the most famous working directors of the last several decades, but that doesn't mean that they're in competition. In fact, the two filmmakers are fans of each other's work. Spielberg is particularly fond of Scorsese's 1990 mob movie, the widely acclaimed modern classic, "Goodfellas." And who can blame him? What's not to like? But "Goodfellas" is more than just a good movie to Spielberg — it's a master class in directing.

"Henry Hill, Jimmy the Gent, Tommy DeVito, Paulie, Karen, Billy Batts, the Lufthansa heist … all someone has to do is mention some of these names and I get the sudden and irresistible urge to watch Martin Scorsese's 'Goodfellas' again," the director reminisced in an interview with Variety. "I've lost count of how many times I've experienced this epic cinematic masterpiece, which includes a brilliant screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese, and one of cinema history's greatest acting ensembles."

The "Jaws" director goes on to list some of the greatest actors in Hollywood history, including Robert De Niro, a Scorsese movie regular. He also points out the abundance of talent in the supporting cast members, from "Pulp Fiction" star Samuel L. Jackson to "The Sopranos" veteran Michael Imperioli.

If you're interested in making movies, don't let the film's long runtime deter you from watching it. Spielberg insists that "Goodfellas" will not be a waste of your time.

"It's no longer a guilty pleasure to sit for 2 hours and 26 minutes," the three-time Academy Award winner explained, "but rather a master class for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to see a breathtaking balancing act of multiple storylines, timelines, shocking violence and violent humor."

Goodfellas Is Spielberg's Favorite Scorsese Film

"Goodfellas" may not have made Spielberg's list of favorite movies in IndieWire, but it did earn a comparison to some incredible Hollywood classics, including one of the names on Spielberg's list.

Scorsese's 1990 film had "the greatest needle-drop score since 'American Graffiti,'" Spielberg told Variety, "and the best spoken narrative since Billy Wilder's 'Double Indemnity.'" The "E.T." director also compared "Goodfellas" to "The Godfather," one of his favorite films of all time.

"Everyone has a favorite Scorsese picture, and this is the one for me," Spielberg concluded, "in a photo finish with my other favorite picture of his, 'Raging Bull.'"

Scorsese and Spielberg started making films around the same time and achieved major success within a few years of one another. They were friends early on in their careers and have remained friends to this day. They discussed Spielberg's newest venture, "The Fabelmans," in an interview at the DGA Theater in 2022.

The "Taxi Driver" director, meanwhile, was friends with Spielberg when he was making his breakout horror film, "Jaws," and he remembers the obstacles that the young filmmaker was up against. "I remember when Steven was in production on 'Jaws,' the word around town and in the L.A. Times was that it was folly and that it was gonna be a disaster," Scorsese recalled in the 2017 documentary "Spielberg."

"I remember the night 'Jaws' opened I was with Steven," Scorsese recalled. "I said, 'Let's go and see the lines.' And we were looking and going by all the lines by Westwood and places like that, and I said 'This is it. This is gonna be a major change.'"

Scorsese Has A Lot Of Respect For Spielberg, Too

The two filmmakers have a mutual adoration and respect for one another. Scorsese is as much a fan of Spielberg's directorial talents as Spielberg is a fan of his. "Steven's able to walk into a room, look for a second or two say 'Here, here, move that here, give me a 25mm here, put it this way, face forward, move it, silhouette here. Two takes, three takes, that's enough thanks, let's move on,'" the "Goodfellas" director recalled. "It was amazing."

They may be peers, but Scorsese believes that Spielberg is one of the greatest directors in Hollywood history. "He has a dynamic sense of real filmmaking," Scorsese insisted. "I'm talking about narrative filmmaking in the great narrative tradition of American cinema."

Just as Spielberg wasn't afraid to compare "Goodfellas" with "The Godfather," Scorsese has no qualms about putting Spielberg in the same class as cinematic legends like John Cassavetes, best known for starring in "Rosemary's Baby" and directing gritty New Hollywood films like "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie." "Cassavetes has said, if you want to be a real filmmaker, you can't be afraid of anything or anybody," said Scorsese, "and Steven isn't."

Spielberg's latest work has taken a more autobiographical turn, but Scorsese has always appreciated the more "personal" elements of Spielberg's work. One of Scorsese's first films was "Italian-American," a documentary about his own two parents. In many ways, it mirrors the sentiments of Spielberg's latest production, "The Fabelmans," a story about his own family life. "I don't think there's any doubt that Steven's work deals with specific themes in his life, which makes him a real personal filmmaker," Scorsese concluded.

The way that these two filmmakers speak about one another's work is proof that, no matter how talented you are, you can still learn from your peers.

Read this next: Every Martin Scorsese Feature Ranked From Worst To Best

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