'Raging Bull': Overrated 1980s Classic?

Robert De Niro in Raging Bull by Martin ScorseseMartin Scorsese's 1980 Best Picture nominee Raging Bull will be screened as the next feature of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated” series on Monday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Oscar winner Thelma Schoonmaker will join producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, cinematographer Michael Chapman, make-up artist Michael Westmore, and title designer Dan Perri in a post-screening discussion.

In my view, along with Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is the most overrated American movie of the last 30 – or 40 or 50 – years. (I'm not quite sure how far back one must go to find so much praise bestowed upon so much artifice.) In any case, Scorsese's overlong drama, based on Jake LaMotta's autobiography (credited to LaMotta, Joseph Carter, and Peter Savage), revolves around the drab, mundane existence of the self-destructive middleweight boxing champion.

Despite attempts at psychological and social insights, the film barely manages to scratch the surface of LaMotta's character and of the world in which he lived. But if Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin's screenplay leaves much to be desired (surprisingly, it failed to get an Oscar nod) and much of the acting is as out of control as a bull running through the streets of Pamplona, Michael Chapman's gritty black-and-white cinematography is first-rate.

Raging Bull won Oscars for Actor in a Leading Role (Robert De Niro – quite possibly less for his acting than for his eating; DeNiro gained a ton or two for the role) and Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker). It received six additional nominations: Best Picture (Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, producers), Actor in a Supporting Role (Joe Pesci), Actress in a Supporting Role (Cathy Moriarty), Cinematography (Michael Chapman), Directing (Martin Scorsese) and Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Bill Nicholson, David J. Kimball, Les Lazarowitz).

Michael Mills' Oscar-nominated animated short History of the World in Three Minutes Flat will be screened prior to the feature.

Passes for the remaining screenings in part four of “Great To Be Nominated” are $30 for the general public and $25 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. A $5 discount is available for those who wish to renew their passes from parts one, two or three of the series. Individual tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Passes and tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for all features is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

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1 Comment to 'Raging Bull': Overrated 1980s Classic?

  1. Occams Tool

    One of the greatest boxing movies ever, about a man who has turned his life around. Sorry, gotta disagree.