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Outdoor Movie Series-Raging Bull
June 10 @ 9:00 pm - 11:30 pmFree
Join us in an outdoor screening and discussion of Raging Bull and how it relates to our Carlos Rolón/Dzine:50 GRAND exhibit.
“It’s the movie that won Robert De Niro his Oscar for Best Actor. It’s the movie that earned Martin Scorsese his first nomination for Best Director. It’s the movie where the guy who would later play Coach on Cheers sees a handsome boxer get mutilated and says, “He ain’t pretty no more.” It’s Raging Bull, it came out 37 years ago this year, and it will punch you in the face. Here are 5 facts to enhance your next viewing of one of the best sports dramas ever made.
1. IT PARTIALLY OWES ITS EXISTENCE TO ROCKY.
Comparisons to that other Oscar-winning boxing movie from four years earlier were inevitable, but the two were actually connected. Rocky was produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, and released by United Artists. When those same producers approached that same studio about doing another boxing movie, the studio said, “A sequel to Rocky? Sure!” That wasn’t what they had in mind (though they did soon enough), but in the meantime, Rocky’s huge success was enough to sell UA on another boxing movie.
2. IT WAS ONE OF SEVERAL BOXING MOVIES BEING SHOT AROUND THE SAME TIME.
Rocky started a trend, as movies that win Best Picture often do. In late 1978 and early 1979, when Scorsese was getting started on Raging Bull, there were at least four others in the works: Rocky II, The Main Event, The Champ, and Matilda (the boxing kangaroo). This glut actually helped Scorsese convince United Artists to let him shoot Raging Bull in black-and-white, as it would make his boxing movie stand out visually from the others. Hey, whatever works, right?
3. FOR RESEARCH, SCREENWRITER MARDIK MARTIN LIVED WITH JAKE LAMOTTA’S EX-WIFE FOR A FEW DAYS.
“Lived with” is how he phrased it on the 30th anniversary Blu-ray. Vickie LaMotta was open enough to the idea of a movie about her ex-husband that she let Martin visit her in Florida and pick her brain about her relationship with the volatile pugilist.
4. DE NIRO WANTED TO DO IT AS A PLAY, TOO.
This was in early 1978, before it was even written as a movie yet, when De Niro was collaborating with Mardik Martin to adapt LaMotta’s memoir, while simultaneously trying to convince a noncommittal and increasingly drug-addled Scorsese to take on the project. De Niro’s idea was to stage it as a Broadway play (to be directed by Scorsese), and then, during the run of the show, spend the daylight hours shooting the movie. De Niro liked the idea of the day’s filming influencing the way they performed the play that night. But Martin’s script wasn’t yet ready for either medium, and Scorsese was in no shape to do it then anyway.
5. PAUL SCHRADER FIXED THE SCREENPLAY BY ADDING JAKE LAMOTTA’S BROTHER, JOEY.
It’s strange to imagine Raging Bull without the Joe Pesci character, but that’s how Mardik Martin’s first drafts had it. He was adapting LaMotta’s 1970 memoir, Raging Bull: My Story, co-authored by LaMotta’s lifelong friend Peter Savage (born Peter Petrella). The book didn’t feature Joey as a prominent character, and it had Savage doing most of the things that Joey would eventually do in the movie. When Schrader was hired to build on the work Martin had done and take another stab at the screenplay, he decided the story would be more compelling if it involved brothers rather than friends (blood ties and all that), so he introduced the Joey character and excised poor old Pete. This creative license proved problematic later, when Joey LaMotta sued for defamation because the movie had attributed to him a number of unwholesome deeds (like beating the crap out of a neighborhood mobster) that had actually been perpetrated by Savage. “– Eric D Snider via Mental Floss
Due to violence and language this film is probably best for mature 13-14+.