Scorsese and De Niro's Caribbean Adventure Saved 'Raging Bull'
Despite the fact that it stars those hilarious cut-ups from movie farces such as Gone Fishin’ and Dirty Grandpa, the 1980 classic Raging Bull is profoundly unfunny. The last gasp of the artistic renaissance of New Hollywood chronicles boxer Jake LaMotta’s downward spiral of self-destruction in glorious black and white, directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese -- the director known best to the kids today as that old crank can’t enjoy the high-art of a series that features both a talking raccoon and Jeremy Renner.
Well, it turns out that the writing of this dramatic, painful story was … shockingly fun?
The project, which was initially championed by Robert De Niro, was eventually penned by screenwriter Mardik Martin, whose script was then rewritten by Paul Schrader of Taxi Driver (and later The Canyons) fame. The script still wasn’t quite right, so De Niro, not unlike a desperate spouse trying to save a dying romance, took Scorsese to the Caribbean for two and a half weeks. They hammered out the script using handwritten notes and a tape recorder, the audio from which was later typed up by a lone assistant. The pair wrote “ten pages a day” and were in total isolation -- but they did have a golf cart for driving into town for dinner and, not surprisingly, cocktails. Judging from the surviving photos, these guys were having the time of their goddamn lives.
Yup, what looks like the lost ‘70s arthouse version of Weekend at Bernie’s was actually the artistic process that gave us goddamn Raging Bull. This is like finding out that Goodfellas was written while downing daiquiris on a booze cruise or The Last Temptation of Christ was hammered out during an all-inclusive weekend at a Sandals resort.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.
Top Image: United Artists