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The King of Comedy

  • Film
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Time Out says

Scorsese and De Niro have been pushing each other so far for so long that audience polarisation now automatically accompanies the risk of their major-league collaboration. The King of Comedy guarantees a split even at the level of expectations: it's definitively not a comedy, despite being hilarious; it pays acute homage to Jerry Lewis, while requiring of the man no hint of slapstick infantilism; its uniquely repellent prize nerd is De Niro himself. The excruciating tone is set by an early freeze-frame of fingernails frantically scraping glass. Flinch here, and you're out, because Scorsese never does while detailing fantasist Rupert Pupkin's squirmily obsessive desperation to crash TV's real-time as a stand-up comic on the Carson-modelled Jerry Langford Show. Buttonholing its star (Lewis), then rebounding from brush-offs to hatch a ludicrous kidnap plot, De Niro's Pupkin isn't merely socially inadequate; he's a whole dimension short - happily rehearsing with cardboard cut-outs, choosing the flatness of videoscreen space for his schmucky jester's tilt at being 'king for a night'. Whereas the film itself is all unexpected dimensions and unsettling excesses, with the ambiguous fulfilment of Pupkin's dream frighteningly echoing the news-headline coda of Taxi Driver. Creepiest movie of the year in every sense, and one of the best.

Written by PT

Release Details

  • Duration:109 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Martin Scorsese
  • Screenwriter:Paul D Zimmerman
  • Cast:
    • Jerry Lewis
    • Diahnne Abbott
    • Robert De Niro
    • Sandra Bernhard
    • Martin Scorsese
    • Lou Brown
    • Catherine Scorsese
    • Ed Herlihy
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