Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All-Time
No. 3: Raging Bull (172 points)
Year released: 1980.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty. Directed by Martin Scorsese.
What we like: De Niro, as former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta, was totally believable as the slim young psychotic Jake and the fat old contemplative Jake (he famously gained 45 pounds -- no special effects -- for the latter, which meant that the picture had to be shot during two different time sessions, months apart); Pesci's breakout role as De Niro's younger brother; the eerie opening-credits scene, with a hooded De Niro shadow-boxing in slow motion.
What we're willing to overlook: Moriarty, who came out of nowhere to play Vicki La Motta ... and almost as quickly returned to nowhere.
A definitive movie about any sport has yet to be made, but this one comes closest. There's nothing formulaic or feel-good as a false quality. The re-creations of Bronx Italian nabes in the '50s are exact. The fight sequences have great detail -- the actor playing Sugar Ray Robinson (Johnny Barnes) didn't have a line, but his eloquence of movement gave Sugar life. Pauline Kael didn't overly adore Scorcese's riveting effort, saying "He is a great director when he doesn't press so hard at it, when he doesn't suffer so much. He's got moviemaking and the Church mixed up together; he's trying to be the saint of cinema." -- Page 2 columnist Ralph Wiley
Just amazing to look at. -- Page 2 columnist Eric Neel
I guess I like black and white. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, but I just remember being completely entranced. It was like watching a great old movie, but with original ideas and modern techniques. De Niro and Scorsese team up once again to bring us great drama and great fight scenes (in and out of the ring). -- Page 2 columnist Bob Halloran
Captured the ultimate essence of the sport, both in and out of the ring, in all its lyrically gore and glory. From championship to corruption, what else sums up boxing better? -- Page 2's Hollywood insider, Jeff Freedman