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Trivia / Raging Bull

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Cast the Expert: Inverted. The home movie footage was directed by a random crew member because attempts made to shoot it by Scorsese or cinematographer Michael Chapman ended up looking too professional.
  • Creator Backlash: Not Scorsese, but Paul Schrader is not as happy with this film as he is with Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ (among his collaborations with Martin Scorsese). He personally feels that the film's attempt to put on a Redemption Quest at the end was unconvincing and he likewise felt that the film gave LaMotta too much credit as a boxer and sportsman and that ultimately it amounted to a lot of great talent and hard work making someone more famous then he would merit.
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  • Creator Breakdown: Martin Scorsese was struggling with a cocaine addiction at the time and planning on retiring as a director. Robert De Niro specifically brought the project to Scorcese in hopes that its themes of self-destruction would help Scorcese overcome his problems.
  • The Danza:
    • Joe Pesci as Joey LaMotta, though the shared names were just a coincidence.
    • Charlie Scorsese (Martin's dad) as Charlie, the balding bespectacled mobster who shows up in a few scenes.
  • Darkhorse Casting: Robert De Niro helped Martin Scorsese track down unfamiliar names to play Joey and Vikki.
    • De Niro cast Joe Pesci after seeing him in a low-budget television thriller The Death Collector. For one thing, Pesci had a remarkable resemblance to the real Joey. Prior to being cast, Pesci had not worked in film for four years and was running an Italian restaurant in New Jersey. Frank Vincent, who'd been part of a nightclub comedy team with Pesci, was also in The Death Collector and got cast as Salvy.
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    • Pesci suggested Cathy Moriarty from a picture he once saw at a New Jersey disco. The fact that she looked a lot like Vikki LaMotta was a major consideration (for proof, see this pic of Moriarty and LaMotta together around the time of the film's release). She was working as a waitress when she got cast, and it was her first film.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Cathy Moriarty playing a fifteen year old version of her character at the beginning (she was 20). Somewhat justified, as she portrays the character from her teens until her late 20's.
    • There's also the fact that Robert De Niro was 36 or 37 at the time of filming, and in the early scenes played a 19-year-old Jake LaMotta.
  • Doing It for the Art: For Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. It took over four years for De Niro to convince everyone, including Scorsese, to get on board for this film. The final draft of the screenplay, after Mardik Martin and Schrader finished most of the early work, was in fact written by an uncredited Scorsese and DeNiro.
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  • Dueling Movies: With The Elephant Man, another Deliberately Monochrome biopic involving special physical performance from the lead actor. Both films also competed in Best Actor nomination.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • Robert De Niro trained with the real Jake LaMotta to get in shape. They spent the entire shoot together so De Niro could portray his character accurately. La Motta said that De Niro has the ability to be a contender, and that he would have been happy to be his manager and trainer.
    • Even more remarkable is that for the Older Formerly Fit Jake, rather than put on a fat-suit and resort to camera-tricks, DeNiro insisted that he put on 60 pounds to shoot the Epilogue (a mere third of the film). To accommodate this, the film's production had to be divided into two sections divided by an interval of a few months while DeNiro put on weight. He achieved it by travelling to Europe and eating out in restaurants. After filming ended, DeNiro exercised and lost the weight he had gained, proving if nothing else, his remarkable personal discipline.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Joe Pesci never knew the script called for him to be attacked, so the scene where Robert De Niro beats him up at dinner came completely out of nowhere.
    • Martin Scorsese didn't think that Pesci's reaction was strong enough, so he asked De Niro to say "Did you fuck your mother?".
  • In Memoriam: The film is dedicated to Martin Scorsese's New York University film professor, Haig P. Manoogian.
  • Playing Against Type: Joey LaMotta is played by Joe Pesci. Yes, that Joe Pesci. Of course, it was before he was typecast. Pesci still manages to start a fight by breaking a glass over someone's head, and ending it by slamming their head and shoulders repeatedly in a car door. He does apologize after, but only at the insistence of an old mobster. It still counts, because compared to DeNiro, he's really the collected one. It's Jake that has the Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Production Posse: Scorsese's old NYU film school friend Mardik Martin wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and his frequent collaborator Paul Schrader did the later drafts. His longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker was also on board. This was the first Robert De Niro/Joe Pesci film, and the future Scorsese/De Niro/Pesci films also all featured Frank Vincent (Salvy) in a supporting role.
  • Real-Life Relative: Martin Scorsese's father is one of the mob wiseguys crowding the LaMotta brothers at a Copa nightclub table.
  • Star-Making Role: For Joe Pesci.
  • Those Two Actors: This was the first of six films that Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci made together.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Michelle Pfeiffer and Sharon Stone auditioned for Vicki LaMotta. Jodie Foster also wanted the role, but she didn't get to audition, as the producers thought she was too young and tomboyish.
    • When Paul Schrader was working on the script, he put in numerous shocking moments such as Jake LaMotta masturbating and dipping his penis into a bucket of ice. Schrader later admitted that the film held less personal significance to him than it did for Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese and he added the shocking material just to see what he could get past the studio. Ultimately, the masturbation was cut and, instead of putting his penis into the ice, La Motta pours the ice down his underwear.


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