When Robert De Niro first burst onto the scene, his legendary status was far from certain. Not until collaborating with Martin Scorsese on “Mean Streets” in 1973 did audiences get to see his potential. When he worked with Francis Ford Coppola on “The Godfather: Part II” in 1974, he became an icon.
“The Godfather: Part II” is what earned De Niro his first Oscar, a win for Best Supporting Actor. But it may surprise you to learn that one of the most influential actors has only won one Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. And De Niro won that for “Raging Bull” in 1981.
Take a look at this photo of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in “Raging Bull” by Martin Scorsese. In De Niro’s lap is the child actor in the scene, who De Niro is helping to work the slate.
“Raging Bull” is often considered Scorsese’s finest film, but interestingly, he wasn’t originally interested in making a sports movie. And he distinctly avoided falling into the trappings of a typical sports film. “Raging Bull” is not about boxing. In fact, actual fighting makes up about 10 minutes of the entire runtime.
It’s a film about redemption, and with Scorsese’s career in the balance at the time, this film was a triumphant resurgence for cinema’s most decorated director. The film is also able to take one of the more unlikeable characters of Jake La Motta and still make audiences care.
Look below for the opening credits of “Raging Bull,” one of the great openings of cinema.