With no surprise here, Robert De Niro plays the lead role in Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy (1982) as another obsessive and delusional character in the form of Rupert Pupkin. Pupkin is an aspiring stand-up comedian who fantasies about being on the big stage. These urges eventually grow after he meets an actual comedian and talk show host, Jerry Langford, played by Jerry Lewis. Pupkin believes Langford will provide his big break, but the show host wants nothing to do with the failing comedian. Pupkin’s crazed, initial instinct is to stalk Langford, which leads to the kidnapping of the celebrity as collateral, in exchange for a guest spot on Langford's show.
Scorsese takes another turn, continuing to change and vary his filmography with The King of Comedy. Although the themes of obsession/addiction, crime, and a skewed vision of the world all remain true through this film like the ones before it, The King of Comedy feels different from the rest. Coming off of Raging Bull, a beautifully crafted film, creating the sense that “you could take every frame and put it on the wall” (Christie and Thompson 88) for just how perfect the compositions are, The King of Comedy does not express the same impression. The camera feels stale throughout the course of this film. The cinematography is not awful, yet there are no dynamic camera movements that we are used to seeing from Scorsese.
Putting the camera aside, the talent throughout this film is impeccable. The combination of Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro’s performances make for an exciting watch that is filled with comedic undertones while not being a comedy-genre, despite the film’s title. Most of the time is spent laughing at the embarrassment curated by De Niro’s character… something different from the usual sympathy aligning with Scorsese’s traditional anti-hero (88). The King of Comedy provides stranger aspects than what is expected from Scorsese. Moments will feel uncomfortable and make you cringe, generating a different emotion being pulled from the director, ultimately creating a fascinating film!
Story/Plot – 18/20 Direction – 17/20 Acting - 19/20
Cinematography – 16/20 Score/Soundtrack – 16/20
The Founder of @HennionProductions,