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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 2, 2015
I can't recall anything quite like this movie. Rupert Pupkin is an amazing character and De Niro is brilliant. The King of Comedy often derives its best humor from serious situations, where realism and straight-faced delivery somehow lead to hilarity. For example, there are a few scenes where Rupert visits the office of talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). In an effort to speak with Jerry, he must deal with the receptionist, Jerry's assistant, Miss Long (Shelley Hack) and in the end, a tough security guard. On the surface, there is no humor at all. Everybody's behavior is ultra-realistic and rather dry but somehow remarkably funny. Much of the film is like this. Mixed in are some more traditional comedic elements but the dry element pervades and I know that this type of humor is not for everyone.

Aside from being wickedly funny and beautifully acted, it is also an original, satisfying story. In the end, the completely nutty and pathetic Rupert is actually rather good when given the chance. His routine fulfills the role and situation perfectly.

Martin did another movie after this called After Hours, which also derived humor from tense situations.

The King of Comedy Blu-ray includes some decent special features. I highly recommend it.
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on April 8, 2014
Journalist Paul Zimmerman wrote the script for The King of Comedy nearly 40 years ago.

Its concept was so far ahead of its time that even celluloid sooth-Sayer and noted auteur Marty Scorsese could not really get his head around it until the late 1970s, and even then only at the persistent urging of Robert DiNiro who had originally acquired the script not long after it was produced.

Working to craft what may have been the last claustrophobic, quirky character study for a major studio, Scorsese produced a film that was brilliantly cast with Jerry Lewis and the then unknown Sandra Bernhard and featured the early 1980s, grungy New York City as a lead protagonist.

The story of a strange man in his mid 30s, under-employed and who still lived at home in his parents basement-see present day for reference-who believed that he was such a comedic talent that he could go directly from fooling around in his rec room, to headline on a national TV talk show.

DiNiro plays the mentally unbalanced principal character, Rupert Pupkin, as the new age (Taxi Driver) Travis Bickle, who instead of murder and mayhem will use guile and nerve to achieve world-wide fame and notoriety.

Jerry Lewis, as talk-show host Jerry Langford probably delivers the best performance of his long film career with the one caveat that he is basically just playing himself, although here, that is clearly enough.

DiNiro's character and that of Sandra Bernhard's frenzied styling of a wacko obsessed fan manage to somehow kidnap Lewis/Langford and hold him until DiNiro/Pupkin can tape the opening monologue of the late night show which features a terrific cameo by the late, great Tony Randall.

With the FBI ready to take Pupkin into custody after the show airs, the self styled King of Comedy remarks on stage, "better king for a night, than schmuck for a whole life," something that many poor souls, especially now in the age of social media and TMZ, may subscribe to.

Just how script-writer Zimmerman looked so far into the future to basically detail what would become of the modern mass media and celebrity culture is one for the ages to deduce.

But perhaps there may be something in the LA air that helped because both eerily prescient movies, Taxi Driver-written by Paul Schrader- and The King of Comedy came out of the LA zeitgeist in the early 70s. Go figure.

Interestingly, as Scorsese notes in the 50 minutes of bonus materials and deleted scenes supplied with this new 30th anniversary edition, Entertainment Tonight declared on Dec. 31, 1983 that The King of Comedy was "the flop of the year."

Forget ET's unknowing put-down, do yourself a favor and see this movie.

It just might be among Scorsese's and DiNiro's top five.
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Martin Scorsese's 'The King of Comedy' has long been a favourite film of mine. The storyline is nothing grand, and the acting is passing fair, but it is the little psychological pieces that keep poking in that make this movie an interesting one to watch.
This is not a typical Jerry Lewis film by any means. He is not a comedian in this film (of course, I know many who think, 'he's not a comedian in any film'). He plays the straight man, a rather sour and jaded entertainment professional. Robert DeNiro (as Rupert Pupkin) and Sandra Bernhard (as Marsha) play two star-struck fans who have focussed their lives on Jerry Langford (Lewis' character) to the extent that they are imagining weekend outings with him and knitting sweaters for him. The story largely revolves around Rupert's desire to be a comic and appear on Langford's Tonight Show-style talkshow.
In an interesting twist, given the Tonight Show character of the show, the movie features cameos from many old talkshow stand-bys, including Victor Borge, Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Tony Randall.
As Rupert and Marsha compete with each other to outdo the other in establishing a 'relationship' with Langford (everything from owning memorabilia to autographs to event attendance) Rupert's imagination keeps concocting more elaborate relationships, which he finally fails to be able to distinguish from reality. This comes to a confrontation when he travels out to Langford's weekend home (with an unsuspecting woman in tow) and gets ejected from the home by Langford and told, in no uncertain terms, that he is neither known nor wanted.
At this point, being confronted with a painful reality, Rupert decides upon drastic action, and with the assistance of Marsha, kidnaps Langford and holds him for ransom, the ransom being an appearance on the show.
Rupert's fantasies include being married to his high school crush on the show, by his old principal, who apologises for not seeing the worth in Rupert; Langford pleading with a resistant Rupert to guest host the show; essentially, everything in Rupert's life that had gone wrong gets righted.
This is dark humour, to be sure, and the pace can be rather slow. But this movie is largely overlooked, and deserves a bit more attention for the interesting psychological devices in the story.
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on December 30, 2003
De Niro and Bernhard are Rupert Pupkin and his friend Masha, obsessive fans of comedy TV star Jerry Langford played by Jerry Lewis. Their obsession takes somewhat different forms. Pupkin thinks he is a comic superstar in the making and all he must do to succeed is bring this to Langford's attention. Masha, on the other hand, has something romantic in mind... But both of them are obsessed to a point that is some distance beyond the threshold of insanity. The results are excruciatingly painful to watch as Pupkin haunts Langford's offices, is evicted by security, only to show up, a few days later on an impromptu visit at Langford's country house, with a date in tow...
De Niro is excellent but for once he is upstaged by Sandra Bernhard's terrifyingly mad Masha. Lewis adds an interesting dimension by portraying Langford pretty unsympathetically as a not particularly likeable guy. When Pupkin and Masha go to the extreme of kidnapping him, few people are likely to be wholeheartedly rooting for him to get away and thwart their plans. That gives the film a complexity lacking in the later de Niro movie "The Fan" which reprises the central theme of this in a far more simplistic, black and white way.
This is a brilliant film, one of Scorsese's very best. But do I enjoy watching it? Well, I'm not at all sure that I do. The mistake may be to think of it as a black comedy. We're tempted to do so really only because comedy is its subject matter but there is very little about it that is funny. Better perhaps to classify it as a horror movie. That captures the sense in which we manage to find ourselves engaged by something which is, at certain levels, simply an ordeal to watch. If you don't believe me or think I'm just speaking metaphorically, check out the scene near the end where Sandra Bernhard sings "Come Rain or Come Shine" to a tied-up Jerry Lewis and ask yourself, in all honesty, if you can recall anything Linda Blair does in "The Exorcist" that is remotely as terrifying. I can't.
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on July 31, 2003
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have their most under rated teaming here. The film had some scenes that I felt were perhaps more disturbing than those in the infamous Taxi Driver, just in the how originally twisted the lead's methods become.
De Niro is struggling nobody/comic Rupert Pupkin (if you define struggling as a man who talks to cardboard pictures of Liza Minelli and other celebtiries in his basement, working on his dialogue on a show he plans to get on), who stalks a comic and celebrity personality Jerry Longford (Jerry Lewis gives his most straightforward work here) to get a spot on his show. When Pupkin fails at his attempts, he goes for the desperate approach and kidnaps him. Startling most of the way, but it is the climax which will arouse audiences to be stunned from the irony in the tie in- "better to be king for a day than a shmuck for a lifetime".
One of the best Scorsese works (but of course, there are so many great ones, it's not fair to compare); he appears briefly as a director from the talk show. A few members of the punk group the Clash appear as street gawkers. By the way, considering how pestering Sandra Bernhard can get in stand-up and in appearances, she actually gave a fine breakthrough here.
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on January 19, 2003
Chances are that if Robert De Niro is in a movie, it's going to be good. (Especially the old classics.) This one is no exception and I can't believe it has taken me this long to finally see this amazing comedy. Finally out on DVD, "The King of Comedy" is a terrific film on all fronts.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, "The King of Comedy" is about a man named Rupert Pupkin (De Niro); a man with dreams of stand-up comedy success and superstardom on his mind. He doesn't spend too much time in the real world; his made-up world is far more enjoyable to him. There is hardly a moment in where he isn't daydreaming some. Rupert knows that the one man who can make his dreams come true is talk-show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Unfortunately, Langford wants absolutely nothing to do with Pupkin and sees him only as another star-crazed and psychotic fan. So, Rupert decides to do the next best thing that will guarantee him a spot on Jerry's show; he kidnaps him. Everything else just goes straight to hell after that with unpredictable twists and turns.
This was a very funny and well-done movie that should've gotten more recognition when it was first out. Although it may have never gotten the attention it deserved while in theatres, I feel it is more popular now than ever before. I've always heard people quote the movie but never knew of which movie they were talking about. Robert De Niro is amazing as ever and really has fun with his role. Jerry Lewis is also incredible as the bitter talk show host who just wants to be left alone by everybody. Sandra Bernhard also deserves mention because I thought she was hilarious in this as well.
I still can't believe this is a Martin Scorsese film. I know all the familiar camera angels and techniques are there, but this is so different from anything else he has ever done. He proves that his movies don't have to be violent and have to be full of profanities to be enjoyable. He captures the absurdity and outrageousness perfectly. Scorsese isn't just a terrific film maker, he is a unique storyteller as well.
The DVD is quite good as well. Not the best, but has some very neat features to it. I thought the transfer was really good, being that it is such an old movie. I thought the picture looked great, although it did have its moments where it could've looked better. However, the overall presentation was very impressive. There are a few special features such as a making-of-featurette, still gallery, and a theatrical trailer and TV spot. I wished there would've been more extras, but I was still satisfied for the most part.
"The King of Comedy" is a wildly entertaining film that had me laughing from start to finish. With a creative story and terrific acting, this is an amazing film that should be seen by all. A true Scorsese classic gem that I will never get tired of.
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on January 19, 2003
I love both Robert DeNiro(in my eye's he's "never" made a poor film!)and the brilliant Scorsese, so you know were this 'review' is headed. However, before I continue, I must again, PLEAD for Martin & Robert to hurry & do as many more projects together, as possible, because we(me)just haven't seen enough! Guy's; neither of you is getting any younger, & the chances of the both of you doing more projects together, is getting slimmer & slimmer! Especially w/Mr.Scorsese having to take nearly 3 years to get the brilliant "Gangs of New York" from the film cans to the screen! Please more!I personally can't think of another Actor/Director combo, who's bonds are so tight, & backgrounds so similar! These two are the only pair that have ever made so many
films that are of the higest quality conceivable.
Ok i'll keep this short.(Maybe) This film has always been 1 of my fave films w/the 2 "geniuses" working together! I always loved it, because out of the body of work both did together, this HAS to rank as the quirkiest. It's plain scary! Not "Max Cady" scary(which was also brilliant & another Oscar should have gone to Bobby Milk, & Scorsese was jobbed out of his 1st Best Director Oscar AGAIN! How can the Academy give every conceivable Oscar to the greatest Movie of the past 60+ years[Raging Bull]& Marty NOT win Best Director? A travesty, a joke![as is the Academy]rather, a creepy, slimey edgey type of scary, that is so
close to surface reality it is devestating! As Scorsese used the camera in "Cape Fear" to make the audient feel claustrophobic, w/o any way of escaping what's in the frame, his camera work here
is equally erie in a completely different but somehow familiar effect of placing your mind in the midst of the insanity! It's not just the insanity of Pupkin's world, but slyly shows the insnaity of the entertainment world, & how bleak & unapproachable
these "tv people" are.
Our 1st real glimpse at DeNiro playing "some" comedy.(Not when Pupkin attempts to be funny, rather when his deranged mind attempts to placate Lewis when Pupkin & Bernhard break into his house, or many other instances) DeNiro is just so bizzare here, it's beautiful. Why this film did'nt go over well w/audiences & 'critic's"(what do they know anyway?)is beyond comprehension.
This is a classic,a wonderfully, dark look at another 1 of Scorsese's character's(written much the way it plays)and DeNiro's uncanny ability to "become" the person on the page! If you've never seen this, then treat yourself by buying the DVD to give you a little something extra, & more insight into the world of DeNiro & Scorsese! buy it. Just a pleasure to watch, & feel.
Again(in the slim chance that either would read reveiws on this forum) I beg you two to get as many joint projects from the scripts to the finished projects, as it may never,ever happen again where 1 brilliant actor & an equally brilliant filmaker, are paired so perfectly! In fact I doubt that it will.
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on January 6, 2003
Put together heaping doses of Scorese, DeNiro, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard and what do you have? An absolute masterpiece. When I first went to see it in the theaters, I had my doubts. First, DeNiro and Scorsese doing comedy together when their forte was violent gangster and/or fighter films? And who in the heck wanted to see that washed up wreck of a comic Jerry Lewis clown around and fall all over himself? I went anyway since I never miss a Scorese film. I never even have these kinds of doubts when showing up for a Scorsese film anymore because I realized if he could pull this off, he could do anything. Yes, DeNiro as a would-be comic who pesters and stalks tv star Jerry Lester (Lewis) to get his shot of stand-up fame and then performs stand-up brilliantly is a revelation. Plus, you get to see another Jerry Lewis, probably the one who is much closer to the "real" Lewis. You haven't seen him since he played the "Hyde" part of Buddy Love in Lewis's "Nutty Professor." Lewis plays a very dark, cold, unfunny, calculating tv performer. The best part with Lewis though are his scenes when he is being held hostage by Sandra Bernhard, who has the hots for him, to give Deniro's "Rupert Pupkin" his tv shot. This may be the unlikeliest and thus funniest romantic pairing ever shown in a movie (entirely one sided as it is since Lewis/Lester is a total narcissist). This is a film to buy for your permanent DVD collection.
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on December 7, 2002
I LOVED THIS MOVIE! It is mostly a drama, but Robert DeNiro is superb (as usual)! This is one of his best roles! AND he is the funny guy here! And Jerry Lewis: you will be surprised: he is very good, and he is great at playing drama! He plays a Johnny Carson-type talk show host Jerry Langford (JERRY LEWIS), kidnapped by DeNiro's character, along with a woman friend of his (played by SANDRA BERNHARDT) who is crazy for Jerry! They kidnap Jerry because DeNiro won't be allowed to be on Langford's talk show, even after Langford "promises" him he can have a chance to be on his program. There are a lot of truths to this story, particularly after this came out, regarding stalkers and celebrities. I have seen this film many times, and I am NEVER bored! Matter-of-fact, the character DeNiro plays reminded me of myself (when this movie came out)! Some of his ways and things he says, reminds me of the same things I do and say! Scorsese does it again! Brilliant director, brilliant actors! THIS is entertainment! Trust me! You won't go wrong! By the way, I have met Sandra Bernhardt (LAX Airport, mid-1980's) and Martin Scorsese (JFK Airport, 1983); they are both nice people!Thank you! ENJOY! DISFRUTE! -Paul "Gringo Latino" A.
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on December 7, 2002
I LOVED THIS MOVIE! It is mostly a drama, but Robert DeNiro is superb (as usual)! This is one of his best roles! AND he is the funny guy here! And Jerry Lewis: you will be surprised: he is very good, and he is great at playing drama! He plays a Johnny Carson-type talk show host Jerry Langford (JERRY LEWIS), kidnapped by DeNiro's character, along with a woman friend of his (played by SANDRA BERNHARDT) who is crazy for Jerry! They kidnap Jerry because DeNiro won't be allowed to be on Langford's talk show, even after Langford "promises" him he can have a chance to be on his program. There are a lot of truths to this story, particularly after this came out, regarding stalkers and celebrities. I have seen this film many times, and I am NEVER bored! Matter-of-fact, the character DeNiro plays reminded me of myself (when this movie came out)! Some of his ways and things he says, reminds me of the same things I do and say! Scorsese does it again! Brilliant director, brilliant actors! THIS is entertainment! Trust me! You won't go wrong! By the way, I have met Sandra Bernhardt (LAX Airport, mid-1980's) and Martin Scorsese (JFK Airport, 1983); they are both nice people!Thank you! ENJOY! DISFRUTE! -Paul "Gringo Latino" A.
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