New York

Raging Bull, Directed By Martin Scorsese

United Artists

It may not be saying much to call Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull the best Hollywood movie of 1980. (Aside from the scandalous Dressed to Kill, the likeable Melvin and Howard, and isolated passages from Popeye, The Big Red One or The Shining, what else was there?) But it is also the film in which Scorsese finally redeems the promise shown by his 1973 Mean Streets, an earlier composition in New York Italian jive and choreographed hysteria.

Raging Bull is based on the autobiography of the Bronx prizefighter Jake La Motta, an unpleasant character in the film who was apparently even worse in reality. It’s been pointed out that Scorsese doesn’t know much about boxing—virtually every punch in the film is thrown at someone’s head—but, as Mean Streets already demonstrated, what he does know he knows very well. The film’s seven or eight fight scenes are masterfully constructed out of exploding

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