The next title on the What Else to Watch list in DK Canada’s The Movie Book following its recommendation of Taxi Driver is this Scorsese classic starring Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lewis.
The film didn’t do well at the time, but I also remember it being marketed as a comedy and for me it was definitely more of a drama. Yes there are comedic moments, but the things that happen in this are better perceived as terrifying drama, and something a number of public figures can relate to.
Lewis plays Jerry Langford, a late night talk show host who is riding high, recognized everywhere (but seems to live a lonely life as hinted at in spare moments in the film). DeNiro is Rupert Pupkin an aspiring comic, but there’s also something a little wrong with him. He’s obsessive (lonely too), a little socially challenged, lives with his mother, and has a vibrant fantasy life (which does bring up questions about the end of the film).
After meeting his idol once, Pupkin won’t let it go, or let Jerry be. He’s determined to be a star in his own right, and fervently pursues a perceived relationship with Langford spurred on by their friendship in his fantasy life.
He tries for meetings, and while he’s polite, his presence is subtly unnerving, and puts those around him on alert. Something he doesn’t quite realize. He just wants his shot, and believes Jerry is the key to it.
Jerry wants nothing to do with him, and when Pupkin ups his approaches, including showing up at the comedian’s private house, things definitely play with a current of tension under them.
A final act may be the only way Pupkin gets his big break, and he recruits fellow Jerry-obsessive, Masha (Sandra Bernhard) to help him.
Scorsese lets the film tell its story in its own way, and I think that’s what threw some people, some no doubt thought it was kind of a funny film, some probably thought it was a look at a troubled mind who thought fame would solve all of his problems. I think, in today’s day and time, the story definitely plays towards the latter version, and resonates with a number of people.
Both DeNiro and Lewis are fantastic in their roles, and it’s something to see watching the two share a screen together, and that Lewis can hold his own with a method actor like DeNiro.
This Scorsese film may find its way to being my favorite, I love the performances, the editing, the story, and it’s just put together so well.
Don’t believe me? Check it out! Or pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a new or old classic to watch tonight!