Raging Bull (1980)
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Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin from Jake LaMotta‘s 1970 memoir Raging Bull: My Story. The film, distributed by United Artists, stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American middleweight boxer whose self-destructive and obsessive rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic appetite destroyed his relationship with his wife and family. Also featured in the film are Joe Pesci as Joey, LaMotta’s well-intentioned brother and manager who tries to help Jake battle his inner demons, and Cathy Moriarty as his wife. Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, and Frank Vincent all play supporting roles in the film.
Scorsese was initially reluctant to develop the project, though he eventually came to relate to LaMotta’s story. Schrader re-wrote Martin’s first screenplay, and Scorsese and De Niro together made uncredited contributions thereafter. Pesci was an unknown actor prior to the film, as was Moriarty, who was suggested for her role by Pesci. During principal photography, each of the boxing scenes was choreographed for a specific visual style and De Niro gained approximately 60 pounds (27 kg) to portray LaMotta in his later post-boxing years. Scorsese was exacting in the process of editing and mixing the film, expecting it to be his last major feature.
Raging Bull premiered in New York on November 14, 1980 and was released in theaters on December 19, 1980. The film had a lukewarm box office of $23.4 million against its $18 million budget. The film received mixed reviews upon its release; while De Niro’s performance and the editing were widely acclaimed, it garnered criticism due to its violent content. Despite the mixed reviews, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 53rd Academy Awards (tying with The Elephant Man as the most nominated film of the ceremony), including Best Picture and Best Director, and won two: Best Actor for De Niro (his second Oscar) and Best Editing.
After its release, Raging Bull went on to garner a high critical reputation, and is now often considered Scorsese’s magnum opus and one of the greatest films ever made. In 1990, it became the first film to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility.