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Raging Bull Movie Review

film niro scorsese actor

1980 – Martin Scorsese –

What supplied this film with much of its punch when it first appeared was its language. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro had talked about making a prizefighting film based on middleweight Jake La Motta's autobiography since the early 1970s. The original script by Mardik Martin and the rewrite by Paul Schrader employed a more grammatical, literary dialogue. Scorsese and De Niro revised the script again and made the language more colloquial, fragmented, and, above all, profane. In addition, the lines in the film are often delivered in jumbled, overlapping, indistinct ways. The violence of Jake La Motta (De Niro) is shown to erupt in a flurry of verbal attacks as likely as in a volley of punches. When Steven Spielberg saw Raging Bull, as he explains in the short film Martin Scorsese Directs, the spontaneous-seeming speech gave him a sense of embarrassment and a feeling of eavesdropping “on real situations with real people whose dignity and privacy I should respect.” Since 1980, however, explicit profanity has become such a staple of mainstream films that it may be hard to watch Raging Bull with the same voyeuristic feelings that Spielberg had of observing privileged moments. Of course, the parallels to the Mike Tyson story add an extra jolt.

Although the verbal rhythms may not stand out as distinctively as they did in 1980, the shock of observing the behavior of La Motta still remains. He seems to be at peace only in the ring; elsewhere, the ease with which he turns an everyday situation into an occasion for rage is chilling. Waiting for dinner, he berates his first wife for taking too long with his steak and then overturns the table in fury. Later, he lets a simple kiss of greeting from his second wife (Cathy Moriarty) to his brother (Joe Pesci) fuel his suspicions that she has betrayed him. His self-destructive nature alienates his brother and motivates his wife to divorce him. When he is arrested for selling liquor to a minor at his nightclub, he tries to pawn his middleweight championship belt to make bail, but like so much of his life he botches even that by prying out the jewels from the belt rather than recognizing the belt's greater worth as a unique, intact trophy.

Jake's tragedy may lie somewhere in his brutish, animal-like nature that carries him to the top of his profession while tearing apart his private life. Scorsese has said that he intends the ending of the film (after Jake's release from prison) to show a man who has finally reached a sense of peace. Many viewers disagree and find in Jake's cryptic dressing-room recitation of Marlon Brando's speech from On the Waterfront yet another low point in his continuing downward slide.

Cast: Robert De Niro (Jake La Motta), Cathy Moriarty (Vickie La Motta), Joe Pesci (Joey La Motta), Frank Vincent (Salvy), Nicholas Colasanto (Tommy Como), Theresa Saldana (Lenore), Frank Adonis (Patsy), Mario Gallo (Mario), Frank Topham (Toppy), Lori Anne Flax (Irma), Joseph Bono (Guido), James V. Christy (Dr. Pinto), Bill Mazer (reporter), Bill Hanrahan (Eddie Egan), Rita Bennett (Emma), Mike Miles (sparring partner), Kevin Mahon (Tony Janiro), Johnny Barnes (Sugar Ray Robinson), Ed Gregory (Billy Fox), Louis Raftis, (Marcel Cerdan), Johnny Turner (Laurent Dauthuille), Charles Scorsese (man with Tommy Como), Martin Scorsese (Barbizon stagehand) Screenwriter: Mardik Martin, Paul Schrader Cinematographer: Michael Chapman Composer: Robbie Robertson Producer: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler for United Artists MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 129 minutes Format: VHS, LV, DVD Awards: Academy Awards 1980: Editing, Actor (Robert De Niro); Nominations: Cinematography (Michael Chapman), Director (Martin Scorsese), Picture, Sound, Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci), Supporting Actress (Cathy Moriarty); Golden Globe Awards 1981: Actor—Drama (Robert De Niro); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1980: Actor (Robert De Niro), Film; National Board of Review Awards 1980: Actor (Robert De Niro), Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci); New York Film Critics Awards 1980: Actor (Robert De Niro), Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci); National Society of Film Critics Awards 1980: Cinematography (Michael Chapman), Director (Martin Scorsese), Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci) Budget: $14M.

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