It’s been a while since my last Scorsese film Taxi Driver (1973) which blew my mind with what was built up on-screen. Here I saw the pairing of Robert DeNiro again and the skilled director in The King of Comedy (1982). a disturbing portrait of a fanatic fan, real emphasis on the fanatic.
Following the live and day-dreams of wannabe stand-up comic Rupert Pupkin (DeNiro) which often said and pronounced wrong, has a fascination with stand-up comedian Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) who is tired of the attraction of fame, just wanting to do his job without harassment. Something that constantly plaques him in the form of the adoring public that sometimes never keeps its distance for long enough.
We are invited into the screwed world of the fanatic and the extremes that they go to. First we see the casual fan trying to catch a glimpse of a the comedy star Jerry Langford, which soon turns into a more dark a serious tone when one fan saves him from another Marsha (Sandra Bernhard) who personifies the other extremes that we associate with the unstable characters who stalk the rich and famous. As we learn this is all part of a carefully worked plan to get to the comedian who wants to be left alone, whilst an aspiring Pupkin wants to learn and get near to him. We are let into his dreams and the sad life he really lives. Harassing Langford’s team, all to get his big break. A careful balance between reality and fantasy is on display, throwing the audience into confusion, just as Pupkin tries to make his fantasy a reality, a goal that is slowly slipping away from his grasp. DeNiro is taken a break from his heavy gangster roles to gives us another intense performance which sees him become what he may indeed fear himself at times, the super-fan, who has for some famous people has cost them their privacy or even lives. Playing opposite Sandra Bernhard who strangely suits her role down to the ground, on a different level of delusion, wanting other things from the comedian.
A symptom of modern western life, that for those who want and achieve fame comes the darker side, those who are loved by the fans can become some dark and dangerous, as the seemingly sad man who stalks Langford seeing him as more than an inspiration, but the way to fame and fortune. To access him is to achieve his goal of being a stand-up comedian. Going to extremes that most would never dream of. Of course we all have moments where we would want to meet a famous person, even do more, but then dreams can take on a more dangerous form, reality for those who want only to do their job.
A very contemporary film that will never lose its edge, with serious performances by DeNiro and Bernhardwho together paint a dark picture of modern life, how fame can create desires and mental instability that is fuelled by the media, that used to be good for the famous, even protect them. Which now has taken a new form to be able to communicate on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, we want to know more, to know what they are doing. Magazines dedicated to what they eat, wear and go on holiday. The final touch in the whole film is turned on its head, becoming a fictional account of the film we have just seen. Making a fictional biopic of a fictional account, a false fact, a confusing and intelligent thing to do at the end.
- The King of Comedy (1982) (myfilmviews.com)
- Top Ten Robert De Niro Roles (billstoptenlists.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films (jordanandeddie.wordpress.com)
- Sandra Bernhard Glee-fully disses hit TV show on her way to Miami for shows at Prelude by Barton G. (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- The 5 best movie cameos (atlmalcontent.wordpress.com)
- Robert De Niro: At 70th birthday, he remains a man of many facets (cnn.com)