A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies is a documentary film of 225 minutes in length, presented by Martin Scorsese and produced by the British Film Institute.
In the film Martin Scorsese examines a selection of his favorite American films grouped according to four different types of directors: the director as storyteller; the director as an illusionist: D.W. Griffith or F. W. Murnau, who created new editing techniques among other innovations that made the appearance of sound and color possible later on; the director as a smuggler— filmmakers such as Douglas Sirk, Samuel Fuller, and Vincente Minnelli, who used to hide subversive messages in their films; and the director as an iconoclast, those filmmakers attacking social conventionalism — Charles Chaplin, Erich von Stroheim, Orson Welles, Elia Kazan, Nicholas Ray, Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Penn, and Sam Peckinpah.
The documentary is structured in segments:
The director's dilemma
The director as storyteller
The Gangster film
The director as illusionist
The director as smuggler I
The director as smuggler II
The director as iconoclast
It was originally shown in three parts on Channel 4 in the UK in 1995.