Raging Bull

Raging Bull

4.5 11
Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci

     
 

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Martin Scorsese's brutal character study incisively portrays the true rise and fall and redemption of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, a violent man in and out of the ring who thrives on his ability (and desire) to take a beating. Opening with the spectacle of the over-the-hill La Motta (Robert De Niro) practicing his 1960s night-club act, the film flashes back to… See more details below

Overview

Martin Scorsese's brutal character study incisively portrays the true rise and fall and redemption of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, a violent man in and out of the ring who thrives on his ability (and desire) to take a beating. Opening with the spectacle of the over-the-hill La Motta (Robert De Niro) practicing his 1960s night-club act, the film flashes back to 1940s New York, when Jake's career is on the rise. Despite pressure from the local mobsters, Jake trusts his brother Joey (Joe Pesci) to help him make it to a title bout against Sugar Ray Robinson the honest way; the Mob, however, will not cave in. Jake gets the title bout, and blonde teenage second wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarity), but success does nothing to exorcise his demons, even as he channels his rage into boxing. Alienating Vickie and Joey, and disastrously gaining weight, Jake has destroyed his personal and professional lives by the 1950s. After he hits bottom, however, Jake emerges with a gleam of self-awareness, as he sits rehearsing Marlon Brando's On the Waterfront speech in his dressing room mirror: "I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody." Working with a script adapted by Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader from La Motta's memoirs, Scorsese and De Niro sought to make an uncompromising portrait of an unlikable man and his ruthless profession. Eschewing uplifting Rocky-like boxing movie conventions, their Jake is relentlessly cruel and self-destructive; the only peace he can make is with himself. Michael Chapman's stark black-and-white photography creates a documentary/tabloid realism; the production famously shut down so that De Niro could gain 50-plus pounds. Raging Bull opened in late 1980 to raves for its artistry and revulsion for its protagonist; despite eight Oscar nominations, it underperformed at the box office, as audiences increasingly turned away from "difficult" films in the late '70s and early '80s. The Academy concurred, passing over Scorsese's work for Best Director and Picture in favor of Robert Redford and Ordinary People, although De Niro won a much-deserved Oscar, as did the film's editor, Thelma Schoonmaker. Oscar or no Oscar, Raging Bull has often been cited as the best American film of the 1980s.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bruce Kluger
Four years after Sylvester Stallone's Rocky had elevated the art of boxing to mythic, even romantic heights, Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull -- a biography of middleweight fighter Jake La Motta -- pulled the canvas from beneath the sport, revealing a dark and dangerous world inhabited not by punchy, loveable wannabes, but by brutes and bullies. Scorsese opted to shoot the film in black-and-white, effectively evoking the documentary grittiness so essential to the movie's feel, and his screenplay (cowritten by Paul Schrader) makes no apologies for La Motta's violent, abusive behavior, which was primarily directed at his wife (played superbly by newcomer Cathy Moriarity) and brother (Joe Pesci). Thelma Schoonmaker's Oscar-winning editing depicts boxing not as a graceful, slo-mo ballet of swinging arms, but instead as a sport whose punches and uppercuts draw blood and actually hurt. The true heart and soul of Raging Bull though, is Robert De Niro, whose La Motta boils over with the raw anger of a man possessed. So conscientious was De Niro's approach to the role that he even called a halt to the filming so he could gain 50 pounds to play the boxer in his later years. It is a tour-de-force performance that set a new standard for acting, and helped make Raging Bull among the most revered movies of the 1980s.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
In Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro explore the soul of a profoundly violent man and search for the human core buried deep inside him. In many ways, De Niro's performance as Jake does make him seem more like an animal than a human being; he's ruled by a volatile mixture of arrogance, paranoia, sexual confusion, and fear, and he can deal with his emotions only through violence. The physical brutality that makes Jake a champion in the boxing ring cripples his relationships with his wives, his business associates, and his brother. But even though La Motta is in many ways controlled by the worst parts of his nature, he's also aware of it on some primal level. When he commands his brother to hit him as hard as he can, it's almost as if he wants someone to knock the fight out of him (while believing, arrogantly but accurately, that it can't be done), and as Jake literally beats his head against a wall in a Florida jail cell, shouting "Why? Why? Why?" it sounds as if he's begging for an explanation of his entire life. In nearly any other film, a performance as strong and intricately detailed as De Niro's would control the entire show, but here Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty both offer superb, career-making support, while Scorsese's peerless visual sense makes this more than just another star vehicle. The boxing sequences are shot, choreographed, and edited with such audacious power and impact that it's hard to believe that they occupy only ten minutes of screen time; the beautifully designed tracking shots, the use of slow motion, and Michael Chapman's excellent black-and-white photography lend the film a stylized edge while sharpening its visceral emotional impact. With screenwriters Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin, Scorsese tells the story not of a boxer or a bad man, but of a lost soul struggling for a way out of the emotional damnation of his own brutal nature; and he tells it with such unblinking horror and understated compassion that Raging Bull has been widely acknowledged as one of the most powerful films of its era.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/08/2005
UPC:
0027616915122
Original Release:
1980
Rating:
R
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:09:00
Sales rank:
68,145

Special Features

Closed Caption; 3 audio commentaries featuring director Martin Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, producer Irwin Winkler, Jake La Motta and more; 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes; "The Bronx Bull" making-of documentary; De Niro vs. La Motta shot-by-shot comparison; "La Motta Defends Title" newsreel footage; Original Theatrical Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert De Niro Jake LaMotta
Cathy Moriarty Vickie LaMotta
Joe Pesci Joey LaMotta
Frank Vincent Salvy
Nicholas Colasanto Tommy Como
Theresa Saldana Lenore
Frank Adonis Patsy
Mario Gallo Mario
Frank Topham Toppy/Handler
Johnny Barnes Sugar Ray Robinson
Kevin Mahon Tony Janiro
Ed Gregory Billy Fox
Louis Raftis Marcel Cerdan
Johnny Turner Laurent Dauthuille
Cis Corman Actor
Bill Mazer Reporter
Joseph Bono Guido
Lori Anne Flax Irma
Charles Scorsese Charlie - Man with Como
Don Dunphy Himself/Radio Announcer (Dauthuille Fight)
Bill Hanrahan Eddie Eagan
James V. Christy Dr. Pinto
Bernie Allen Comedian
Vic Magnotta Fighting Soldier
Kenny Davis Referee (1st Robinson Fight)
Jimmy Lennon Ring Announcer (2nd Robinson Fight/Dauthuille Fight)
Marty Denkin Referee (Janiro Fight)
Shay Duffin Ring Announcer (Janiro Fight)
Jack Lotz Referee (Fox Fight)
Kevin Breslin Heckler
Coley Wallace Joe Louis
Peter Fain Dauthuille Corner Man
Count Billy Varga Ring Announcer (3rd Robinson Fight)
Harvey Parry Referee (3rd Robinson Fight)
Ted Husing Himself (TV Announcer 3rd Robinson Fight)
Michael Badalucco Soda Fountain Clerk
Paul Forrest Monsignor
Peter Petrella Johnny
Geraldine Smith Janet
Mardik Martin Copa Waiter
Peter Savage Jackie Curtie
Daniel P. Conte Detroit Promoter
John Arceri Maitre d'
Robert Uricola Man outside Cab
Allan Malamud Reporter at Jake's House
Richard McMurray J.R.
Mary Albee Underage I.D. Girl
Candy Moore Linda
Noah Young Musician #3
Lou Tiano Ricky
Bob Aaron Prison Guard #1
Martin Scorsese Barbizon Stagehand
John Turturro Man at Table
Wally K. Berns Arresting Deputy #2

Technical Credits
Martin Scorsese Director,Screenwriter
Phillip Abramson Set Decoration/Design
Kirk Axtell Art Director
John Boxer Costumes/Costume Designer
James D. Brubaker Production Manager
Richard Bruno Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Chapman Cinematographer
Robert Chartoff Producer
Cis Corman Casting
Michael Evje Sound/Sound Designer
Jerry Grandey Asst. Director
Sheldon Haber Art Director
Bill Kenney Production Designer
Jake LaMotta Consultant/advisor
Les Lazarowitz Sound/Sound Designer
Alan Manzer Art Director
Mardik Martin Screenwriter
Donald O. Mitchell Sound/Sound Designer
Bill Nicholson Sound/Sound Designer
Jim Nickerson Stunts
Hal W. Polaire Associate Producer
Robbie Robertson Score Composer
Gene Rudolf Production Designer
Peter Savage Associate Producer
Thelma Schoonmaker Editor
Paul Schrader Screenwriter
Al Silvani Consultant/advisor
Fred C. Weiler Set Decoration/Design
Allan Wertheim Asst. Director
Michael Westmore Makeup
Irwin Winkler Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Feature Film
1. Main Title
2. 1964: That's Entertainment
3. 1941: Pounding Reeves
4. A Talk With the Animal
5. "Hit Me in the Face"
6. Unwelcome Spectators
7. Vickie by the Pool
8. A Date With the Champ
9. Sitting a Little Closer
10. 1943: Sugar Ray Robinson
11. Kissing It Better
12. 1943: Robinson for the 3rd
13. Fights and Home Movies
14. 1947: A Win-Win Plan
15. Watchful Eye on Vickie
16. Janiro - Pretty No More
17. "Nothing Goin' On?!"
18. A Lack of Respect
19. "I Just Wanna Catch Her"
20. 1947: Going Down for Fox
21. 1949: Slapped in the Face
22. Attack on Cerdan
23. 1950: A Crazy Question
24. Fat Pig Selfish Fool
25. Dauthuille: The Comeback
26. Last Time With Sugar Ray
27. 1956: Happy and Retired
28. Raging Entertainer
29. "I'm Leaving You, Jake"
30. Not a 14-Year-Old
31. $10,000 From the Belt
32. 1957: Fist on Concrete
33. 1958: A Joke for a Drink
34. No Friend in Joey
35. Coulda Been a Contender
36. "Now I Can See"/Credits

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