Program Notes: Raging Bull (USA; 1980)

Just how bad must a man be for us to no longer care about him?

That’s the question at the heart of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull.

Raging Bull is the violent, profane, angry story of real-life professional fighter Jake LaMotta, who was a champion in the ring and a driven, jealous, impetuous monster in his private life.

Propelled by Robert DeNiro’s Oscar-winning performance (he gained 60 pounds to portray the retired, broken-down LaMotta) and a level of cinematic craftsmanship rarely surpassed, Raging Bull is widely regarded as the best American film of the 1980s.

Among its eight Oscar nominations were those for best supporting actor (Joe Pesci) and supporting actress (Cathy Moriarty, only 19 at the time), picture, cinematography, and director.

Film Screening:
Raging Bull (1980)
Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1:30 p.m.
Plaza Branch

Above all, Raging Bull tests the limits of our compassion and tolerance. It just might be the most Christian movie of Scorsese’s career.

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.

Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on Flickr  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest  Film Blog RSS feed