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Although some modern sources list a working title of The Life of Jake La Motta , and a 1976 LAT news item referred to the film as The Prizefighter , all other sources from 1975 onward used the title Raging Bull or, occasionally, The Raging Bull . The opening credits are presented in black-and-white, except for the film's title, which appears in bold red letters. The credits roll over shots of "Jake La Motta" (Robert De Niro) as he shadowboxes in the ring before La Motta's 1949 middleweight championship victory against Marcel Cerdan.
       In the opening cast credits, Floyd Anderson, Johnny Barnes, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Kevin Mahon, Louis Raftis and Johnny Turner are all listed under the heading "Fighters," with their respective character names. In the end credits, each name is listed alongside its respective character name, grouped, along with other actors, under headings for specific fights.
       Just before the end credits, a quotation from The New English Bible John IX, 24-26 is presented, with each line illuminated as it appears onscreen: "So, for the second time, [the Pharisees] summoned the man who had been blind and said: 'Speak the truth before God. We know this fellow is a sinner.' 'Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,' the man replied. 'All I know is this: once I was blind and now I can see.'" The quotation is followed by a written remembrance to Haig P. Manoogian, "with love and resolution, Marty." Manoogian, who died on 26 May 1980, was director Martin Scorsese's film professor at New York University. ... More Less

Although some modern sources list a working title of The Life of Jake La Motta , and a 1976 LAT news item referred to the film as The Prizefighter , all other sources from 1975 onward used the title Raging Bull or, occasionally, The Raging Bull . The opening credits are presented in black-and-white, except for the film's title, which appears in bold red letters. The credits roll over shots of "Jake La Motta" (Robert De Niro) as he shadowboxes in the ring before La Motta's 1949 middleweight championship victory against Marcel Cerdan.
       In the opening cast credits, Floyd Anderson, Johnny Barnes, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Kevin Mahon, Louis Raftis and Johnny Turner are all listed under the heading "Fighters," with their respective character names. In the end credits, each name is listed alongside its respective character name, grouped, along with other actors, under headings for specific fights.
       Just before the end credits, a quotation from The New English Bible John IX, 24-26 is presented, with each line illuminated as it appears onscreen: "So, for the second time, [the Pharisees] summoned the man who had been blind and said: 'Speak the truth before God. We know this fellow is a sinner.' 'Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,' the man replied. 'All I know is this: once I was blind and now I can see.'" The quotation is followed by a written remembrance to Haig P. Manoogian, "with love and resolution, Marty." Manoogian, who died on 26 May 1980, was director Martin Scorsese's film professor at New York University. The credit for The Big Fights, Inc. was an acknowledgment for providing "Jake La Motta screening material and the voice of Ted Husing announcing the actual La Motta-Robinson fight (February 14, 1951)." The end credits also acknowledge the use of excerpts from the soundtrack of the 1939 Hal Roach production of Of Mice and Men (see above), directed by Lewis Milestone, with music by Aaron Copland and excerpts from the screenplay for On the Waterfront (1954, see above) written by Budd Schulberg.
       Following the opening credits, a title card reads "New York City 1964," during which a visibly overweight De Niro, as La Motta, is rehearsing for a performance at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel in New York City. After the words "Jake La Motta, 1964" are superimposed over a freeze frame of De Niro's face, the frame dissolves into a thinner, younger looking De Niro, with a superimposed title reading "Jake La Motta, 1941." The action then proceeds in chronological order, with frequent inter-titles announcing the year and place. Throughout the film, the various boxing matches are preceded by title cards announcing the respective fights, as well as the city and year in which they took place.
       For the years between 1943 and 1947, the passage of time is presented through a montage of title cards, still photographs of various boxing matches and grainy color "home movies" of La Motta, his brother "Joey" (Joe Pesci), Jake's second wife "Vickie" (Cathy Moriarty) and their respective families. The home movies are the only color sequences in the otherwise black-and-white film. At the end of the film, the action returns to 1964, when La Motta is once again in his dressing room, rehearsing for his Barbizon Plaza act, which is advertised as dramatic readings from "Paddy Chayefsky, Rod Serling, Shakespeare, Budd Schulberg and Tennessee Williams." Sitting at his dressing table, he looks at himself in the mirror and begins to recite the "I could’ve been a contender" speech from Schulberg's screenplay for On the Waterfront . The scene ends with La Motta shadowboxing in front of the mirror before going onstage.
       New York boxer Jake La Motta (1921--), a tough, former juvenile delinquent known as the "Bronx Bull," fought over 100 professional fights and was the Middleweight Champion of the World from 16 Jun 1949 to 14 Feb 1951. As shown in the film, La Motta took the title from Marcel Cerdan when the French champion was unable to start the 10th round of their match. La Motta lost the title to famed boxer and frequent opponent Sugar Ray Robinson in the 13th round of their 1951 bout. Although technically knocked out, La Motta never fell to the mat, a feat he often bragged about and which was recreated in the film.
       After La Motta quit the ring in 1954, he had several unsuccessful business ventures, including a Florida nightclub, and eventually became a stand-up comedian and nightclub performer. As depicted in the film, he had a violent marriage to his second wife, Vickie Thailer La Motta (1930--2005), which was characterized by jealousy and physical abuse that eventually led to their divorce. In his 1970 autobiography, written by Joseph Carter and Peter Savage (who also served as the film's associate producer), La Motta publicly admitted what he often had denied over the years, that he threw his 1947 match against Billy Fox. As in the film, La Motta stated that the reason he threw the fight was to have a chance to go against reigning champion Cerdan.
       According to several contemporary sources, the idea for a film based on La Motta's life began in 1973 while De Niro was filming The Godfather Part II (1974, see above) in Sicily. When the actor read La Motta's autobiography, he thought that it would make an engrossing movie and brought the book to Scorsese, with whom he had worked on Mean Streets (see above, 1973), and suggested that he direct it. According to a 1 May 1975 DV news item, Dino De Laurentiis initially planned to produce the film, but by 1976, Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler were the producers. In an interview for a 15 Nov 1996 LAT article on the 20th anniversary of another successful Chartoff-Winkler production, Rocky (see below), Winkler stated that he and his partner agreed to produce Rocky II (1979) for United Artists only if UA also agreed to finance Raging Bull .
       Various news items from 1976 through 1978 referred to several announced production dates, with shooting initially scheduled for late 1976, after Scorsese completed New York, New York (1977), then Nov 1978 and finally, spring 1979. A 19 Apr 1978 DV news item reported that the film's budget was to be in the "$6,000,000 range" and that screenwriter Paul Schrader was at that time in the process of rewriting the script prepared by Mardik Martin. Numerous contemporary and modern sources confirm that Schrader extensively re-wrote the script submitted to Scorsese by Martin, who shared screenwriting credit with Schrader. According to modern sources and interviews with the filmmakers, the production was nearly dropped by Scorsese, who had initially expressed disinterest in doing a boxing movie. However, when De Niro visited Scorsese while he was hospitalized in 1978, he convinced his friend to re-start the project, and the two spent three weeks together working on the script's dialogue and characterizations, according to modern interviews.
       Prior to the start of filming, as reported in a 23 Nov 1980 NYT feature article, De Niro trained for over twelve months [other sources reported six or eight months] with La Motta at the Gramercy Gym in New York City. In various interviews, La Motta complimented De Niro for his tenacity and mastery of boxing techniques. According to many sources, because he had trained so well, De Niro did not need a boxing double for any of the picture's fight scenes.
       Principal photography began on the MGM lot in Culver City on 16 Apr 1979, where interiors were shot. According to trade publication news items, the production moved to New York City in Jun, where the some exteriors and additional interiors were shot. The production went on hiatus in early Aug to allow De Niro to gain weight for the later portions of the film in which he portrayed La Motta as older and much heavier. Contemporary and modern sources variously report De Niro's weight gain as 40, 50, 55 and 60 pounds, with most reporting it as 55. Virtually all reviews of Raging Bull commented on De Niro's weight gain, which through the years has remained a touchstone for an actor's dedication to realism.
       Production resumed on 3 Dec 1979 in the Los Angeles area, where both interior and exterior scenes set in Florida were shot, as were the dressing room and some additional interiors. The company then moved back to New York City, where some interiors and the night scenes of the older La Motta were shot. Filming wrapped in New York in late Dec 1979, more than eight months after principal photography began.
       Although news items reported that the picture was to be released in time for Memorial Day weekend 1980, according to a 9 Jan 1980 HR news item, editing and post-production delays caused it to be pulled from UA's summer releasing schedule. A 4 Nov 1980 HR article reported that the picture was to have been the closing night event for the Nov 1980 London Film Festival, and had already been included in the festival's printed program, but was withdrawn at the last minute. The picture eventually opened in three cities, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, on 14 Nov 1980. Several trade paper news items in Jan 1981 reported that the J. Arthur Rank Organisation circuit refused to book playdates for Raging Bull in its London cinemas so that, when the picture was finally released in Britain, it played in only a few independent houses in London. The picture was, however, the opening night feature for the Berlin Film Festival on 13 Feb 1981.
       Music and sound are prominent aspects of the film, as acknowledged by Scorsese and many contemporary and modern critics. The only sound during the credits is the film's primary thematic music, the "Intermezzo" from the 1890 opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, played by the Orchestra of Bologna Municop Thetra, conducted by Arturo Basile. The film's score did not include any original music, but consisted of various musical passages from the works of Mascagni, interwoven with popular songs and melodies that represented the passage of time, as well as the picture's various moods.
       Many of the songs included in the screen credits are barely audible within the film, with some numbers heard in the background as if being played on radios or in clubs as the characters pass in and out of a scene. Many critics commented on the effectiveness of the score, which film historians have pointed to as a pioneering work in the effective mix of classical and contemporary music. As noted in a feature article in HR in Jan 2005, the Raging Bull soundtrack was not released until 2005. According to Robbie Robertson, who was the music producer for the score, the soundtrack release was delayed because of rights and clearances issues complicated by the large number of songs and performers.
       In addition to the music track, various tracks of sound enhanced the film's overall impact. In many scenes background noises almost overpower the dialogue spoken by the main characters. In other scenes, especially the fight scenes, there is no sound, followed by intermittent bursts of sound. During some more intimate scenes, the dialogue is low, with additional, ambient sounds reflecting outside noises or, in one scene, the hum of static on a television set.
       Michael Westmore, a member of the famous Westmore of Hollywood family of cosmeticians, created the makeup for the film. Reviews and feature articles praised Westmore's work, which transformed De Niro's face to resemble La Motta's, including the characteristic broken fighter's nose, and aged him from the fit young man of the early 1940s to the haggard, overweight man of the mid-1960s. Westmore also created the prosthetic nose for actor Kevin Mahon, who portrayed Tony Janiro, a boxer whose face was mercilessly battered by La Motta in one of the film's most brutal scenes, the result of La Motta's unwarranted fit of jealousy over a casual remark made by Vickie about Janiro's good looks.
       Critical praise was also high for editor Thelma Schoonmaker, as well as for cinematographer Michael Chapman, a frequent Scorsese collaborator. In an article in Millimeter , Chapman described the various techniques he used to give the film both its period feel and realism, particularly in the boxing scenes which are central to the story but encompass little more than ten minutes of screen time. Among other things, Chapman described building a device that could be used to hold numerous old-fashioned flashbulbs that would give the distinctive "pop" and flash of light needed for the scenes in the ring.
       In interviews, Scorsese stated that the original idea to film in black-and-white was actually the result of a discussion Scorsese had with famed British director Michael Powell, who watched 8mm rehearsal shots of a fight scene and suggested that the color of the boxing gloves looked wrong. According to Scorsese, it was then that he decided to have the film shot in black-and-white.
       Raging Bull marked the motion picture debut of Moriarty, who was only twenty at the time of the film's production and had never acted before. Some feature articles reported that she was selected after Pesci, who had worked in New York's garment district, where she was a model, brought her to Scorsese's attention. Her selection followed a pre-production publicity campaign to fill the role of Vickie that included, according to a 21 Aug 1978 HR ad, an open casting call for "Young woman to play 15-30 years old. Must be blonde and have excellent figure. No regional accents except New York." Raging Bull was only the second film role for Pesci, who had been a theatrical child actor, but had quit acting after appearing in the 1976 film The Death Collector . Raging Bull also marked the screen debut of actor John Turturro, who had a bit role as one of the young men sitting with Jake and Joey at the dance when the priest comes to their table. Modern sources add Joseph Bergmann, Bruno DiGiorgi, Marty Farrell, Tony Lip, Dennis O'Neill, McKenzie Westmore and Jimmy Williams to the cast.
       Reviews were mostly laudatory, with critics lavishing praise on De Niro's performance and the film's startlingly realistic and violent fight scenes. The Var critics wrote that "Not since The Harder They Fall in 1956 have boxing scenes been filmed with such terrific intensity," a sentiment that was echoed in many contemporary reviews, which frequently wrote about the numerous slow motion shots that added to the brutality of the fight sequences. Contemporary critics had mixed opinions of the overall effectiveness of Scorsese's direction, although LAT critic Charles Champlin, one of the film's principal supporters, called it "Scorsese's most perfectly shaped film."
       The film was one of the top box-office films of 1981, having gradually opened in a greater numbers of cities in North America in early 1981. News items reported that, following the picture's eight Academy Award nominations, UA released it in many additional venues.
       Raging Bull received two Academy Awards, one for De Niro as Best Actor and the other for Schoonmaker for Film Editing. The film also received the following six nominations: Best Picture, Directing, Supporting Actor (Pesci), Supporting Actress (Moriarty), Cinematography (Chapman) and Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Bill Nicholson, David J. Kimball and Les Lazarowitz). In addition, De Niro won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Dramatic role, as well as being named Best Actor by many major critics. Scorsese was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Director and for the Best Director award by the Directors Guild of America, but failed to win either award, which, like the Oscar for Best Director, eluded him until 2007, when he won for The Departed .
       In the wake of the popularity of Raging Bull , La Motta and ex-wife Vickie became celebrities, often appearing at New York social gatherings, occasionally together. According to contemporary articles about the film, they went to one screening of the film together and when La Motta asked his former wife if he was as bad as he appeared in the movie, she replied that he was worse. According to a 6 Jan 1981 HR news item, Stephanie La Motta, one of Jake and Vickie's three children, disliked the film's violent portrayal of her father, whom she was quoted as calling "a very meek and mild-mannered man."
       In Dec 1981, Vickie, who was then fifty-one, appeared in a nude centerfold spread in Playboy , and in 1986, another La Motta autobiography, Raging Bull II , was ghostwritten by Chris Anderson and Sharon McGhee. A New York magazine article on 8 Dec 1980 reported that La Motta's brother Joey was planning a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Scorsese, De Niro and United Artists, charging defamation of character, but no additional information about such a suit has been located. Jul 1981 news items in LAT and DV reported that Joseph Carter, who co-authored La Motta's autobiography, was suing him for nonpayment of revenues based on La Motta's profits from the movie rights to the book, but the disposition of that dispute is undetermined.
       Over the years since its release, the critical reputation of Raging Bull has increased. It was re-released in 1990 on the heels of several polls of national film critics, including Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, and the staffs of Premiere and American Film magazines, who named it the best film of the decade. On the film's 25th anniversary, it had a gala anniversary screening at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre that was attended by Scorsese, De Niro, La Motta and many of the film's principals. A two-disc 25th anniversary DVD was also released a few weeks later. In 2007, Raging Bull was ranked 4th on AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 24th position it occupied on AFI's 1997 list. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 May 1975
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
10 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1976
p. 1.
Daily Variety
19 Apr 1978.
---
Daily Variety
19 Mar 1979.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1979.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1979.
---
Daily Variety
10 Nov 1980
p. 3, 6.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1981.
---
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1981.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1979
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1979
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 1980
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
Jan 2005
p. 88.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 2005.
---
Life
Nov 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jan 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Nov 1980
Calendar, p. 1, 28.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1996.
---
Millimeter
Feb 1981.
---
Motion Picture Herald
3 Dec 1980
p. 49.
New Republic
6 Dec 1980
pp. 26-27.
New West
1 Dec 1980
p. 125.
New York
1 Dec 1980.
---
New York
8 Dec 1980.
---
New York Post
12 Jan 1990.
---
New York Times
14 Nov 1980
Section 3, p. 11.
New York Times
16 Nov 1980.
---
New York Times
23 Nov 1980
Section 2, p. 1, 28-29.
New Yorker
8 Dec 1980
pp. 217-18.
Newsweek
24 Nov 1980
pp. 128-29.
Playboy
Dec 1981
p. 115+.
Sports Illustrated
1 Dec 1980
p. 87.
Time
24 Nov 1980
p. 26.
Variety
9 May 1979.
---
Variety
12 Nov 1980
p. 26.
Variety
9 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
13 Dec 1989.
---
Village Voice
25 Feb 1980.
---
Village Voice
25 November 1980
p. 55.
Village Voice
12 Jan 2005.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
First Robinson fight:
Second Robinson fight:
Jimmy Lennon
Janiro fight:
"Sweet" Dick Whittington
Cerdan fight:
Dauthuille fight:
Jimmy Lennon
Third Robinson fight:
Walt LaRue
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PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Robert Chartoff-Irwin Winkler Production
A Robert Chartoff-Irwin Winkler Production; A Martin Scorsese Picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod in assoc with
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Best boy
Best boy
Best boy
Key grip
Key grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des in New York
Art dir in New York
Art dir in Los Angeles
Art dir in Los Angeles
Visual consultant in Los Angeles
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Scenic artist
Const foreman
Chief carpenter
Head const grip
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Recordist
Recordist
SOUND
Sd eff supv ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Cableman
Re-rec eng
Re-rec eng
Re-rec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Title des
Opticals by
Opticals by
Opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Consultant
Casting
Bits and extras [casting] in New York
Extra casting in Hollywood
Casting asst
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Boxing tech adv
Tech adv
Craft service
First aid
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Asst to prod
Asst to prod
Asst to assoc prod
Asst to assoc prod
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. De Niro
Asst to Mr. De Niro
Research
Prod office coord
Prod office coord
Prod office coord
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Spec assistance
Spec assistance
[Fight screening material]
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Double for Robert De Niro
COLOR PERSONNEL
Black and white timing
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Raging Bull by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1970).
MUSIC
"Intermezzo" from Cavalleria Rusticana , "Intermezzo" from Guglielmo Ratcliff and "Barcarolle" from Silvano by Pietro Mascagni, performed by Orchestra of Bologna Municop Thetra, Arturo Basile, Conductor, courtesy of RCA S.p.A.
"Two O'Clock Jump (1939)" by Count Basie and Harry James, as performed by Harry James
"Flash (1939)" by Harry James, as performed by Harry James, courtesy of CBS Records
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MUSIC
"Intermezzo" from Cavalleria Rusticana , "Intermezzo" from Guglielmo Ratcliff and "Barcarolle" from Silvano by Pietro Mascagni, performed by Orchestra of Bologna Municop Thetra, Arturo Basile, Conductor, courtesy of RCA S.p.A.
"Two O'Clock Jump (1939)" by Count Basie and Harry James, as performed by Harry James
"Flash (1939)" by Harry James, as performed by Harry James, courtesy of CBS Records
"Jersey Bounce (1942)" by Bobby Plater, Tiny Bradshaw, Edward Johnson and Robert B. Wright, as performed by Benny Goodman
"Drum Boogie (1941)” by Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge, as performed by Gene Krupa.
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SONGS
"At Last (1942)," lyrics by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren
"[You Brought] A New Kind of Love [to Me] (1930)" and "Just One More Chance (1931)," music and lyrics by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman, courtesy of RCA Records
"Webster Hall," composed by Garth Hudson, musicians: piano & sax, Garth Hudson, drums, Richard Manuel, bass, Larry Klein, trumpet (Oingo Boingo Band) Dale Turner, produced and arranged by Robbie Robertson
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SONGS
"At Last (1942)," lyrics by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren
"[You Brought] A New Kind of Love [to Me] (1930)" and "Just One More Chance (1931)," music and lyrics by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman, courtesy of RCA Records
"Webster Hall," composed by Garth Hudson, musicians: piano & sax, Garth Hudson, drums, Richard Manuel, bass, Larry Klein, trumpet (Oingo Boingo Band) Dale Turner, produced and arranged by Robbie Robertson
"Vivere," music and lyrics by Cesare Andrea Bixio and "Stornelli fiorentini," composer undetermined, as performed by Carlo Buti, recordings by EMI Italiana
"Scapricciatiello (Infatuation, 1956)," music by Fernando Albano, lyrics by Pacifico Vento, as performed by Renato Carosone, courtesy of Capitol Records
"Turi Giuliano," music and lyrics by Orazio Strano and S. Bella, as performed by Orazio Strano, courtesy of Carmelo Feliciotto, RCA S.p.A.
"Cow Cow Boogie," music and lyrics by Benny Carter, Don Raye and George DePaul, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and The Ink Spots
"Whispering Grass [Don't Tell] (1940)," music and lyrics by Doris Fisher and Fred Fisher, as performed by The Ink Spots
"Stone Cold Dead in the Market (1946)," music and lyrics by Frederick W. Hendricks, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan
"Till Then (1944)," music and lyrics by Sol Marcus, Edward Seiler and Guy B. Wood, as performed by The Mills Brothers, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"Big Noise from Winnetka (1938)," music and lyrics by Gil Rodin, Robert Haggart, Ray Bauduc and Bob Crosby, as performed by Bob Crosby and The Bobcats
"Heartaches (1947)," music and lyrics by John Kleaner and Al Hoffman, as performed by Ted Weems
"Do I Worry (1940)," music and lyrics by Bobby Worth and Stanley Cowan, as performed by The Ink Spots, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"All or Nothing at All (1940)," music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence and Arthur Altman, as performed by Harry James, courtesy of CBS Records
"Blue Velvet (1951)," music and lyrics by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne, as performed by Tony Bennett
"Come Fly with Me (1957)," music and lyrics by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn
"Mona Lisa (1950)," music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, as performed by Nat King Cole
"I Ain't Got Nobody (1956)," music by Spencer Williams and Dave Peyton, lyrics by Roger Graham, as performed by Louis Prima and Keely Smith, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Nao tenho lágrimas (1947)," music and lyrics by Max Bulhoes and Mílton de Oliveira, as performed by Patricio Teixeira, courtesy of RCA Electronica Ltda--Brazil
"Prisoner of Love," music and lyrics by Al Georing, Ben Bernie and Walter Hirsch, as performed by Perry Como (1946) and Russ Colombo (1934)
"Frenesi (1940)," music and lyrics by Alberto Dominguez and Leonard Whitcup, as performed by Artie Shaw, courtesy of RCA Records
"My Reverie (1939)," music and lyrics by Larry Clinton, as performed by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra
"That's My Desire (1947)," music and lyrics by Carroll Loveday and Helmy Kresa, as performed by Frankie Laine, courtesy of Phonogram, Inc
"Bye, Bye, Baby (1953)," music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Leo Robin, as performed by Marilyn Monroe from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes , courtesy of DRG Records Incorporated
"Lonely Nights (1955)" music and lyrics by Zell Sanders, as performed by The Hearts, courtesy of Dare Music, Inc.
"Tell the Truth (1956)," music and lyrics by Lowman Pauling, as performed by Ray Charles, licensed by Atlantic Recording Corporation.
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DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Life of Jake La Motta
The Prizefighter
The Raging Bull
Release Date:
19 December 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles, New York and Toronto openings: 14 November 1980
Production Date:
16 April--early August
3 December--late December 1979 in New York City and Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 December 1980
Copyright Number:
PA-106-047
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo
Black & white with color sequences
Lenses/Prints
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
127-129
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26171
SYNOPSIS

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first loss and igniting a brawl in which audience members are trampled underfoot. Following Jake’s defeat, Salvy Batts, who works for boxing racketeer Tommy Como, informs Jake’s brother and manager Joey that an association with Tommy could advance Jake’s career. Although Joey agrees with Salvy, he observes that his stubborn brother, whom he affectionately calls "Jack," has "a head like concrete" and insists upon remaining independent. Nevertheless, Joey promises to present Salvy’s offer to Jake, and proceeds to his brother’s dreary, run-down apartment, where Jake is in the middle of a screaming match with his wife Irma. Once Joey mollifies his enraged brother, the mercurial Jake laments that his small, girlish hands limit his ability to rise to the top. Suddenly hostile, Jake provokes Joey into hitting him in the face. Later, when Salvy comes to watch Jake in a sparring match with Joey, Jake becomes so angered by Salvy’s presence that he pummels Joey. At the neighborhood swimming pool one day, Jake spots blonde, fifteen-year-old Vickie Thailer, who piques his interest and passion. When Jake questions Joey about Vickie, Joey reminds him that he is a married man. Leaving Irma at home one night, Jake attends a church charity dance with Joey, where he sees Vickie seated across the room with Salvy. Watching Vickie drive off with Salvy, Jake sends Joey to the pool the next day to arrange an introduction to her. When Vickie admires Jake’s shiny convertible, ... +


In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first loss and igniting a brawl in which audience members are trampled underfoot. Following Jake’s defeat, Salvy Batts, who works for boxing racketeer Tommy Como, informs Jake’s brother and manager Joey that an association with Tommy could advance Jake’s career. Although Joey agrees with Salvy, he observes that his stubborn brother, whom he affectionately calls "Jack," has "a head like concrete" and insists upon remaining independent. Nevertheless, Joey promises to present Salvy’s offer to Jake, and proceeds to his brother’s dreary, run-down apartment, where Jake is in the middle of a screaming match with his wife Irma. Once Joey mollifies his enraged brother, the mercurial Jake laments that his small, girlish hands limit his ability to rise to the top. Suddenly hostile, Jake provokes Joey into hitting him in the face. Later, when Salvy comes to watch Jake in a sparring match with Joey, Jake becomes so angered by Salvy’s presence that he pummels Joey. At the neighborhood swimming pool one day, Jake spots blonde, fifteen-year-old Vickie Thailer, who piques his interest and passion. When Jake questions Joey about Vickie, Joey reminds him that he is a married man. Leaving Irma at home one night, Jake attends a church charity dance with Joey, where he sees Vickie seated across the room with Salvy. Watching Vickie drive off with Salvy, Jake sends Joey to the pool the next day to arrange an introduction to her. When Vickie admires Jake’s shiny convertible, he invites her for a ride, and after changing from her swimsuit into a virginal white outfit, she joins him. After a visit to a miniature golf course, Jake takes her to the apartment he purchased for his father and ushers her into the bedroom, where a crucifix perches above the headboard. He nudges her onto the bed, but she quickly rises and walks to the bureau, where she looks at a photo of Jake and Joey sparring, a rosary dangling over its frame. In 1943, Jake scores a major victory against Sugar Ray Robinson, Robinson’s first loss and the beginning of a life-long rivalry between the two boxers. Following the fight, Vickie, who is now living with Jake, kisses his blackened eye, but when he becomes sexually aroused, he pours a pitcher of ice water down his crotch in order to preserve his energy for the next match with Robinson, which is to take place three weeks later. Although Robinson is named winner of the bout by the unanimous decision of the judges, Jake’s career takes off when he wins a series of victories and, now successful, he marries Vickie and buys a new home in the Bronx. Joey has also married and moved into a nearby house with his wife Lenore. In 1947, after having had three babies and living a relatively quiet life in the suburbs, Jake has gained weight and bristles when Joey enters him into a match with newcomer Tony Janiro, for which Jake will have to lose fifteen pounds. When Joey explains that he set up the match because established boxers are afraid to face Jake, Vickie supports Joey, noting that Janiro would be an apt opponent because he is so good-looking and popular. Vickie’s comment triggers Jake’s obsessive jealousy, and he balks at going to training camp and thus leaving Vickie alone. When Jake asks Joey to keep an eye on Vickie while he is gone, Joey suggests taking her out for a night on the town before he leaves. They all go to the Copacabana nightclub, and when Vickie excuses herself to go the ladies room, Salvy, who is there with Tommy, invites her to join them for a drink. Jake warily watches their encounter, and when Vickie returns to the table, accuses her of flirting with Salvy and Tommy. During his match with Janiro, Jake viciously pummels his opponent in the face, destroying his good looks and winning the bout. Following his victory, Jake returns to training camp, and one night while at a nightclub, Joey spots Vickie enter with Salvy and his friends. Pulling her away from Salvy’s table, Joey orders Vickie to leave with him, then smashes a glass in Salvy’s face. When Salvy follows Joey outside, Joey kicks him, then bangs him in the head with a taxicab door. Afterward, Tommy summons Joey and Salvy, his arm in a sling and his face bandaged, to his headquarters at the Debonair Social Club and orders them to forget their argument and shake hands. After Salvy departs, Tommy warns Joey that Jake is embarrassing him by not accepting his patronage. Although Joey argues that Jake wants to make it on his own, Tommy counters that Jake will never get a chance at the title without his help. Upon Jake’s return from training camp, Joey reports that Tommy has offered him a shot at the title in exchange for throwing a match with Billy Fox. During the fight, Jake offers no resistance to Fox, allowing his opponent to strike him at will until being declared the victor. As Jake later tearfully relates to his cornermen, he did not know any other way to lose. Following the fight, Jake is suspended by the boxing board while the district attorney probes into the possibility of a fixed fight. Two years later, in 1949, Jake faces middleweight champion Marcel Cerdan in a title bout. Before the match, Tommy comes to Jake’s hotel room to wish him good luck, but after Tommy kisses Vickie goodbye and leaves, Jake slaps her and demands to know why she is so friendly with Tommy. After Jake wins the bout on a technical knockout in the tenth round, the referee straps the championship belt around his waist. By 1950, Jake has developed a paunch from his extensive binges of eating and drinking, although he is set to defend his title in a month. Still insanely jealous of Vickie, Jake suspects that she and Salvy had an affair, and when Joey denies it, Jake irrationally accuses him of having an affair with her. In response, Joey advises Jake to indulge in more sex and less food. Jake then goes to Vickie’s bedroom to ask if she had sex with his brother. Offended, she locks herself in the bathroom, after which he breaks down the door and slaps her. Proceeding to Joey’s house, Jake pulls his brother away from dinner with his family and begins to beat him, accusing him of adultery with Vickie. When Vickie arrives, he punches her, prompting her to go home and pack her things. She later tells Jake that she is leaving him, but his more subdued, contrite demeanor causes her to relent and she agrees to stay, although the brothers remain estranged. In 1951 Jake faces Robinson to defend his championship title in the “fight of the year.” As Joey watches the bout on television, Robinson viciously pounds Jake, sending streams of blood trickling down his legs and spewing from his mouth. Even though Robinson is declared the new champion, Jake remains cocky and defiant. Five years later, in 1956, Jake, now living in Florida and grown fat and bloated, announces his retirement from boxing and the opening of his eponymous nightclub. As emcee, Jake tells crude jokes and flirts with underage women customers. Tired of Jake’s abuse, Vickie finally files for divorce and takes custody of the children. One evening, while sleeping in his office, Jake is arrested for pandering to underage customers. To pay his legal fees, Jake smashes his championship belt to pry out the jewels, only to be informed by the pawnbroker that the belt was worth much more intact. Unable to raise the money for his defense, Jake, bellicose and belligerent, is thrown into solitary confinement, where he slams his head against the wall and sobs that he is not an animal. By 1958, Jake, now out of jail and living in New York, has been reduced to introducing his new wife, Emma, a stripper known as "Miss 48's," in a dive bar. One night, he spots Joey walking down the street and runs after him. Although Jake smothers him with hugs and kisses, Joey, still angry, shrugs him off. In 1964, Jake rehearses his lines for his one-night show at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel. As he stands in front of his dressing room mirror, Jake recites the famous speech from On the Waterfront in which “Terry Malloy” accuses his brother, “Charley,” of betraying him, saying “I could have had class. I could’ve been a contender, I could’ve been somebody…instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Before going on stage, Jake gazes into the mirror and sparring with his reflection, declares, “Go get ‘em champ. I’m the boss.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.