|Polish poster for Raging Bull|
That would be near heresy for a filmmaker to say but I just wasn't interested for a long time. And it wasn't because I dislike DeNiro or Scorcese or boxing. It was simply I didn't like how Sugar Ray Robinson (my favorite boxer of all time) was depicted. In the stills I saw of the movie, Sugar Ray looks scrawny, unkempt and plain wack; not an image befitting the man, the legend who was so good they had to create the phrase "greatest pound-for-pound" to describe how good he was across the board and in comparison to everyone from flyweights to heavyweights.
I mean see for yourself...
|The "real" Sugar Ray|
|The "Raging Bull" Sugar Ray|
Since we learn from our betters, I figure it's a good idea to delve into how this classic was made. And so, this behind the scenes look into Raging Bull has been brought to you by Wikipedia with minor italicized/underlined commentary from yours truly:
CastingIt's ok to trust a newbie if your gut tells senses talent in the air
While in the midst of practicing a Bronx accent and preparing for his role, De Niro met both LaMotta and his ex-wife, Vikki, on separate occasions. Vikki, who lived inFlorida, would tell stories about her life with her former husband and also show old home movies (that would later inspire a similar sequence to be done for the film). Jake LaMotta, on the other hand, would serve as his trainer, accompanied by Al Silvani as coach at the Gramercy club in New York, getting him into shape. The actor found that boxing came naturally to him; he entered as a middleweight boxer, winning two of his three fights in a Brooklyn ring dubbed "young LaMotta" by the commentator. According to Jake LaMotta, he felt that De Niro was one of his top 20 best middleweight boxers of all time.
Paula Petrella, heir to Frank Petrello whose works were allegedly sources for the film, filed for copyright infringement in 2009 based on MGM's 1991 copyright renewal of the film. In 2014, the Supreme Court held that Petrella's suit survived MGM's defense of "laches", the legal doctrine that protects defendants from unreasonable delays by potential plaintiffs. The case was remanded to lower courts, meaning that Petrella may now receive a decision on the merits of her claim.
And for more insight on Raging Bull's post production process check out NoFilmSchool's interview with editor, Thelma Schoonmaker.