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  King of Comedy, The Laugh and the World Laughs With You
Year: 1983
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bernhard, Diahnne Abbott, Tony Randall, Shelley Hack, Ed Herlihy, Lou Brown
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 4 votes)
Review: Aspiring stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is looking for his big break, so decides to engineer it himself – by kidnapping his idol, talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) and holding him to ransom for a ten minute appearance on his show.

This brilliant, horribly funny film features two career-best performances from De Niro and Lewis. Oddly plausible, I'm surprised this hasn't happened in real life yet. This is a rare film with no sympathetic characters, making it a disturbing experience for some viewers, but it can also be very amusing watching Pupkin drive everybody else up the wall as he won't take no for an answer, not even from Langford's cold-hearted showbiz dinosaur. As Pupkin's best friend Masha, Sandra Bernhard manages to be almost as unsettling as he is, with her ill-disguised steely fixation about celebrity.

Paul D. Zimmermann's script had reputedly been around for years before Scorsese filmed it; it appears to be predicting that in the future even the least deserving nobody will make it as a star - and it could be argued we're living in that future now. Top creepy moment: Pupkin acting out his chat show fantasy with cardboard cut-outs of Lewis and Liza Minelli. Most uncomfortable moment (and there are plenty to choose from): either when Pupkin turns up at Jerry's house, or Pupkin's stand up routine, which basically describes a childhood of abuse. The very ending is reminiscent of the final shot of The Shining: both men have been trapped by their obsessions. Watch for: Tony Randall (standing in) and a chuckling Martin Scorsese as the TV director.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Martin Scorsese  (1941 - )

American writer and director who emerged as one of the brightest and most vital of the generation of filmmakers who came to prominence during the 1970s with his heartfelt, vivid and at times lurid works. After deciding against joining the priesthood, he turned to his other passion - movies - and started with short efforts at film school until Roger Corman hired him to direct Boxcar Bertha.

However, it was New York drama Mean Streets that really made Scorsese's name as a talent to watch, and his succeeding films, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (which won Ellen Burstyn an Oscar and is the only Scorsese movie to be made into a sitcom) and the cult classic Taxi Driver (starring Robert De Niro, forever associated with the director's work) only confirmed this.

Unfortunately, his tribute to the musical New York, New York was a flop, and he retreated into releasing concert movie The Last Waltz before bouncing back with boxing biopic Raging Bull, which many consider his greatest achievement. The rest of the eighties were not as stellar for him, but The King of Comedy and After Hours were cult hits, The Color of Money a well-received sequel to The Hustler and The Last Temptation of Christ kept his name in the headlines.

In the nineties, Scorsese began with the searing gangster saga Goodfellas, and continued with the over-the-top remake of Cape Fear before a change of pace with quietly emotional period piece The Age of Innocence. Casino saw a return to gangsters, and Kundun was a visually ravishing story of the Dalai Lama. Bringing Out the Dead returned to New York for a medical tale of redemption, and Gangs of New York was a muddled historical epic.

Still the Best Director Oscar eluded him, but the 2000s gave what many saw as his best chance at winning. Slick Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator didn't make it, but remake of Infernal Affairs The Departed finally won him the prize. Outlandish thriller Shutter Island then provided him with the biggest hit of his career after which he surprised everyone by making family film Hugo - another huge hit.

This was followed by an even bigger success with extreme broker takedown The Wolf of Wall Street, and a return to his religious origins with the austere, redemption through torture drama Silence. Despite being an advocate of the theatrical experience, he joined forces with Netflix for The Irishman, reuniting him with De Niro for one last gangster epic. He also directed Michael Jackson's Bad music video.

 
Review Comments (1)
Posted by:
Tom Raymond
Date:
22 Feb 2007
  A fantastic film, very close to the truth. Comedy is definitely 'the lonely art'.
       


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