“Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.”
- Title: The King of Comedy
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Release date: 18th December
The King of Comedy. The film without a “finish”.
As many of you may or may not know from my previous post, I am very much a huge fan of both De Niro and Scorsese so in my attempt to watch all of their film collaborations, I realised that The King of Comedy was one of the few that I had left. Unlike some of their other masterpieces that focus solely on New York gangs and violence, this film went much deeper. Unfortunately, its ending made me wish that maybe they had created another gangster masterpiece instead.
In the film, De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin. Just like the name, Rupert is a strange and quite complex character, allowing De Niro to show us that he can play much more than the New York gangster he often portrays. Pupkin is the crazed fan of stand-up comedian Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis) and in hope of making a breakthrough into the industry, Pupkin does everything he can to get Jerry to notice him. But it soon becomes clear that his obsession has gone way too far…
Although I started this review with a sombre tone, I do have to give credit when it’s due. For the most part, The King of Comedy was actually quite impressive. Despite being a flop at the box office upon its release, one thing I can say is that above everything else, its acting was outstanding.
As De Niro is my favourite actor (this may or may not be a bias opinion), I loved seeing him play a character so contrasting to his other roles. He really embodied the essence of Rupert Pupkin and went to extreme lengths to do so such as stalking his own stalkers! He even met up with one of them to try and understand what it is really like to be a crazed fan (method acting at its finest once again).
As well as De Niro’s stellar performance, Sandra Bernhard who played Masha, another one of Jerry’s crazed fans and an acquaintance to Pupkin, also shone in her role. Scorsese mentioned in an interview that many of the scenes in the film were improvised, but I do have to say Bernhard’s scene was the best. In this scene, she has just kidnapped Jerry and has him locked away in her flat. Finally, she gets the chance to be alone with her celebrity obsession, so what does she decide to do. Seduce him! If there is one scene to remember from this film, this is certainly it!
So, here’s the but.
Throughout the whole film, I was hooked. The dark humour, the acting, the directing. Everything. Everything was going so well. Until the ending…
As I sat there and watched the credits begin to roll on the screen, I thought to myself “is this is?”. I had such high hopes for how Scorsese was going to wrap this film up perfectly, but for the first time, he disappointed me. Without giving away any spoilers, the best way for me to describe it is this.
Jerry Lewis once said he thought the film was good but didn’t have a “finish”.
I agree with him on that one.