Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Raging Bull (1980)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Raging Bull (1980)

In this black and white masterpiece (by cinematographer Michael Chapman) from director Martin Scorsese, adapted from LaMotta's 1970 autobiography, with Robert DeNiro's incredible physical transformation throughout the film as he gained 50 lbs:

  • the opening credits sequence: boxer Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro), with his face hidden in the monk-like hood of his leopard-skin robe, warmed up alone in the ring by shadow-boxing into the smoky air, to the melancholy, haunting soundtrack of the "Intermezzo" from Cavalleria Rusticana (an opera by Pietro Mascagni)
  • the next scene: set in New York City, in 1964, twenty-three years later; in stark contrast, La Motta was now a paunchy stand-up comedian at the Barbizon Plaza Theatre, where a sign advertised his appearance; alone in his dressing room, he was rehearsing for his nightclub appearance reciting bits of Shakespearean tragedy, wearing a tuxedo and open shirt; his fantasy of disrobing in the ring presented the film's recurrent theme of sexual anxiety, fear, and confusion; he recited: "...I know I'm no Olivier But if he fought Sugar Ray He would say That the thing ain't the ring It's the play. So gimme a stage Where this bull here can rage And though I can fight I'd much rather recite That's entertainment! That's entertainment"; the remainder of the film was a flashback - a look back at the middle-aged man's life to try to understand why he was reciting lines in his dressing room
1964: Boxer-Entertainer Jake La Motta: 23 Years later
  • the film's many brutal and graphic boxing sequences (often in slow-motion with the spray onto the audience and the violent sounds of impact) - sweat and blood sprayed out of the ring, devastating blows were seen in close-up, and flashing - actually exploding - camera bulbs popped; in the first sequence set in 1941, Jake was declared the loser (it was a Mafia-fixed fight) against his opponent Jimmy Reeves
  • in the bruised-faced Jake's cramped NYC apartment, the famous "steak" scene, a scene that demonstrated his hellish neighborhood life, where he sat in an undershirt eating while mulling over the disastrous fight with his first wife Irma (Lori Anne Flax); soon, he engaged in a sexualized sparring match with his brother/manager Joey (Joe Pesci)
  • the open-air Bronx swimming pool scene with Jake's first view and lustful attraction toward fifteen-year old, blonde "neighborhood girl" Vickie (20 year old Cathy Moriarty); he spoke to her through a fence grating, and then after taking her for a ride in his convertible, they played a game of miniature golf; he pursued her for a relationship even though he was married
First Views of 15 Year-Old Neighbor Girl Vickie at Pool
and Miniature Golf Game
  • their love making after a fight with Sugar Ray Robinson, when he encouraged her: "Touch my boo-boos...Give the boo-boo a kiss - make it better."
  • the intercut candid, color "home movies" of Jake's domestic life, shared with wife Vickie, alternating with some of Jake's victorious boxing matches
  • at the Copacabana Club, Jake was introduced to the audience by another comedian as a "special guest" - "the world's leading middle-weight contender, the Bronx bull, the raging bull"
  • the lengthy and memorable tracking shot of Joey and Jake followed from the locker room for their long walk through the stadium tunnel to the crowd and up into the ring
  • the volatile scene of an ominous-looking Jake with manager-brother Joey - especially Jake's relentless questioning to browbeat Joey to get him to admit that he 'violated' his wife ("You f--ked my wife?"); Joey's refusal to answer the repulsive, perverse questions intensified Jake's suspicions and made Joey look guilty ("I'm not gonna answer. That's a sick question, you're a sick f--k, and I'm not that sick that I'm gonna answer it. I'm not tellin' ya anything...I'm not stayin' in this nuthouse with ya. You're a sick bastard...")
Jake to Joey: "You f--ked my wife!"
  • Jake's physical assault on Vickie in their bedroom - he pulled on her hair, slapped her, and then asked: "Did you f--k my brother?"; she locked herself in the bathroom - and then sarcastically mock-'confessed' to all that he was accusing her of: "I f--ked all of them! What do you want me to say?...I f--ked all of them - Tommy, Salvy, your brother! All of them! I sucked your brother's cock, what do you want me to say?...I sucked his cock and everybody else on the f--king street, too. What do you want? You're nothin' but a fat pig, selfish fool!"
  • the scene of the beserk Jake's additional physical assault on Joey in his brother's dining room - where he dragged him from the table and brutalized him; the two wives tried to pull him off, and then he slugged Vickie (the first time!) and knocked her out, and then charged out; later, he was in his living room in front of his television set without a picture; Vickie returned home, went upstairs, and began packing to leave; he came to her and humbly begged for forgiveness: "I'm a bum without you and the kids. Don't go." At her dresser, she embraced him
  • during Jake's climactic, 5th and final middleweight championship boxing ring battle against Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951, a mangled Jake was defeated by his life-long nemesis, but still cried out and taunted his victorious black rival Sugar Ray in his corner: "Hey, Ray, I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me, you never got me down"
"You never got me down, Ray!"
  • in 1956 after his professional boxing career ended, an older and fatter Jake lived in Miami with Vickie and his children - he was now 50 pounds overweight: "It's over for me. Boxing's over for me. I'm through. I'm tired of worryin' about weight all the time"
  • Jake's performance as a stand-up comedian in his own seedy nightclub on Collins Avenue that he dubbed "Jake La Motta's" - entertaining the audience with rambling, unfunny one-liners and numerous obscenities - also with self-deprecating, pitiable, and partially hostile humor peppered with sexist rude jokes; he also unfaithfully kissed two under-aged young females at the bar to 'prove' that they were twenty-one so that they could order alcohol: "I know what a twenty-one-year old kisses like."
Nightclub Jokes
Divorce from Vickie
Championship Belt
(with Jewels)
  • at dawn while sitting in a Cadillac with the window only slightly cracked open, Vickie announced her divorce to Jake: "Look, Jake, I got a lawyer, we're gettin' a divorce. I'm gettin' custody of the kids...I already made up my mind. I'm leavin'. That's it. The kids are gonna be with me. And if you show your face around, I'm gonna call the cops on you, all right?"
  • Jake's return home to "pick up one thing" - his championship belt (with embedded jewels) from the mantle (propped up in front of the picture of the two brothers 'playing' at boxing), to pawn it for bail (or bribe) money after being arrested and accused of a morals charge for soliciting a client for a young 14 year-old female in his nightclub (one of the females he had kissed)
  • in 1957, the scene of Jake's arrest and jailing in a stockade in Dade County where he was wrestled like a bull; he slammed his head, fists, and then his arms into the cinder-block cell wall ("Why? Why? Why?...Why'd you do it? Why? You're so stupid") - his shadow-boxing with his own self brought pain and suffering and a new self-awareness
Return to Opening Scene
"I coulda been a contender"
"Go get 'em champ!"
  • the 1958 scene of Jake's failed attempt on the street at reconciliation with his brother Joey ("C'mon, be friends. C'mon. You're my brother. Be friends....Kiss me. Give me a kiss...Just kiss me. C'mon, c'mon, c'mon") - but Joey ignored him
  • Jake's pitiful end as an overweight and bloated night-club emcee at the Barbizon Plaza Theatre (a return to the film's beginning in 1964) - including his recitation in front of his backstage dressing room mirror, while wearing a tuxedo and shirt (unbuttoned at the top) and brandishing a cigar; he recited Brando's famous On the Waterfront "I coulda been a contender" speech in the taxi-cab scene; when alerted that he had five minutes, Jake sent himself off with shadow-boxing into the entertainment arena: "Go get 'em, champ"; off-screen, he mumbled to himself: "I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss, I'm the boss...(I'm the) boss, boss, boss, boss, boss, boss"
  • the film's final title:
    "So, for the second time, [the Pharisees]
    summoned the man who had been blind and said:
    "Speak the truth before God.
    We know this fellow is a sinner."
    "Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know,"
    the man replied.
    "All I know is this:
    once I was blind and now I can see."
    John IX. 24-26
    the New English Bible

"Steak" and Sparring Scene with Brother Joey (Joe Pesci)

Picture of the Two Brothers Between Jake and Vickie

Love-Making with 17 Year-Old Vickie

'Home' Movies

At the Copacabana Club - Introduced as "Raging Bull"

Tracking Shot: Tunnel Walk to the Ring - From Two Angles

Jake's Increasing Jealousy and Abuse Toward Vickie

Vickie's Mock-Confession: "I f--ked all of 'em. What do you want me to say?"

Jake's Brutalization of Joey

Asking for Forgiveness From Vickie

50 Pounds Overweight - Miami in 1956

Kissing Underaged Female in Club

Jake Arrested on Morals Charges in 1957

Wrestled and Imprisoned in Dade County Stockade

"Why? Why? Why?"

Failed Reconciliation with Brother


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