The King of Comedy (PG) ★ Psychology At The Flicks ★
Thu 14 November @ 7:30 pm£7 – £10
The King of Comedy (PG) – 1982, USA, 109 mins
Director: Martin Scorsese
Aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) attempts to achieve success in show business by stalking his idol, a late night talk-show host – played by Jerry Lewis. The thin line between comedy and criminal pathology was never better portrayed.
“When I interviewed Martin Scorsese for this Sunday’s Observer New Review, he described Michael Powell’s 1960 shocker Peeping Tom as “one of my all-time favourite movies” – a film that brilliantly dramatises the “pathology of cinema” and the “dangers of gazing”. Decried by critics and hounded out of cinemas on its initial release, the film became a lost classic, and was only rediscovered after Scorsese helped get it into the New York film festival and co-financed its rerelease two decades later. Peeping Tom is now considered the pinnacle of Powell’s career.
As for Scorsese, it seems to me that the director’s own greatest film is still one of his least applauded. Ask any casual fan to name their top Scorsese flicks and the chances are they’ll come up with titles, such as Taxi Driver and Mean Streets, or Goodfellas. While all these movies are terrific indeed, they pale by comparison with Scorsese and De Niro’s finest – and most often overlooked – work: The King of Comedy. The salutary tale of an aspiring comedian who kidnaps his idol, Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis, playing close to type), in order to ensure a TV spot, The King of Comedy has more to say about the parlous state of modern celebrity culture than any other movie I can call to mind. As the borderline psychopath Rupert Pupkin, De Niro channels the most terrifying elements of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, his delusional (and supposedly humorous) “at home” monologues every bit as alarming as Bickle’s oft-quoted “You talkin’ to me?” tirade.
The King of Comedy is quite breathtakingly brilliant, and I’d take Pupkin over Bickle any day.”
If you have seen Joker and then see The King of Comedy:
“… madness, as Phoenix plays it [in Joker], is both suffocatingly disturbing and surprisingly sympathetic, even as he grows increasingly bent on destruction. Todd Phillips has stolen wholesale chunks from the work of Martin Scorsese, especially Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1984). The former inflects the whole cityscape and the visual elements of the film… Quoting so liberally from these two masterpieces doesn’t exactly flatter their imitator, but perhaps the best way to deal with that is to own up to it: this is likely why Arthur’s idol, TV host and talk show comic Murray Franklin, is played by Robert De Niro, picking up the Jerry Lewis role in King of Comedy with suitably glossy self-importance. Joker not only imitates these movies but seems to be an exercise in imagining Scorsese’s maladjusted men in a place where they find some level of satisfaction.” Sight & Sound
Another chance to experience a classic film through a number of psychological view points. We will be offering comfy sofas and luxurious cinema seats, a fully licensed bar as usual, and will invite a discussion after the film led by psychologist Jane Hughes and psychoanalyst John Wright.
Doors open 7:00pm. Film at 7:30pm.