Blu-ray Review The King of Comedy Blu-ray Review

Matt Hough

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Symbiotic cinematic relationships between actors and directors have been occurring since the days of silent movies, and many great teams have turned out some of cinema’s most memorable, one-of-a-kind creations. One such collaboration is director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro who had combined their efforts for four highly unusual and electrifying works before they came together on their fifth joint effort The King of Comedy. A black comedy with a concentration on the fridge element of show business fanatics who live vicariously through the star power of their objectified victims, the movie offers a queasy, unsettling look into that kind of off-kilter craziness and features a De Niro performance unlike anything he had acted up until that time.

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Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono), Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), Spanish 1.0 PCM (Mono), Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Other

Rating: PG

Run Time: 1 Hr. 49 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/25/2014

MSRP: $24.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Star watcher Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) has been studying the ascent of comic talkshow host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) for so many years that he’s sure he could make it as a comic if Jerry would only give him a chance to perform on his show. Insinuating himself into Jerry’s life through any means necessary at first gets him slight recognition of his presence (enough to convince the deluded Rupert that Jerry is a personal pal), but further persistence in trying to score a debut date on his show gets Rupert ejected from the studio building and pretty much branded as a crackpot. But Rupert has a plan to get his shot on national television which involves kidnapping and ransom: the safe return of Langford for a guaranteed lead-off spot on the show.Paul D. Zimmerman’s script gives us a tremendous view of the deluded life and times of Rupert Pupkin including a couple of visits to his basement “studio set” with cut-out figures of Jerry and guest Liza Minnelli to converse with in order to hone his craft (there’s even an audience wall mural for Rupert’s rehearsals) between continual caterwauling upstairs from his mother in whose house he’s squatting. We see him take a few common courtesies from Langford and turn them into a budding close relationship and recoil through covetous arguments with his equally demented crony Masha (Sandra Bernhard) and even to his outrageously inviting himself and his girl friend (Diahnne Abbott) to a weekend stay at Langford’s country home while the poor servants try to understand how someone could be so brash and bold to do this. Director Martin Scorsese pushes us into the midst of the fan mayhem that star worshippers generate, segues unbelievably smoothly in and out of Rupert’s imaginative fantasies where he’s a big star on equal terms with Jerry, and stages one of the most ghoulishly maniacal seduction dinners ever between Langford and the unbalanced Masha who is so unpredictable that one is never quite sure what her next move might be, upping the cringe quotient exponentially. And, of course, he allows us finally to see the result of all this planning: Pupkin’s actual comic monologue at the end of the film before pulling out all the black comic elements to leave us with a most ironic conclusion.After playing different types of driven, troubled individuals in previous Scorsese collaborations like Taxi Driver, New York New York, and Raging Bull, Robert De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin is one for the books: the kind of monomaniacal individual who wonders if you want him to leave after he’s been kicked on his backside out the door. He effects a lighter, feyer tone of voice and a non-combative but highly confrontational approach to life that is the antithesis of his Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. There really isn’t anything else similar to this in the entire De Niro filmography, and he's great. Jerry Lewis, though playing a comic talkshow host like Johnny Carson, gives a straight, legitimate dramatic performance dealing with these assorted wackos and miscreants with finesse and more patience than one might expect. Sandra Bernhard’s introduction to films is a wild improvisational spin on a real nutcase who might kiss you or kill you in the heat of the moment. Diahnne Abbott gives a good, solid performance as Rupert’s object of affection (the two stars were married in real life for a time), and Shelley Hack is excellent as the production assistant tasked with dealing with the persistent Rupert.


Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is very good in all but the video segments (lousy resolution as they had to be for realism’s sake), and color is rather rich throughout. But the film has a darker appearance than one’s memory of the theatrical presentation which results in shadow detail that is sometimes crushed. There aren’t any age-related specks or scratches, but the film does seem unnecessarily somber with the slight overuse of darkness. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix replicates the mono audio of the original presentation. Dialogue has been excellently recorded and is never compromised by the Robbie Robertson music or the ambient sound effects. There is no problematic hiss, crackle, or flutter that give away the age of these aural elements.


Special Features Rating: 3.5/5

Deleted/Extended Scenes (37:59, SD): eight deleted or extended sequences are provided. They may be played individually or in one lengthy montage.Tribeca Film Festival Conversation (29:50, HD): director Maartin Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis (with a video greeting from Sandra Bernhard) share memories of making the film which was presented as the closing night attraction of the Tribeca Film Festival.A Shot at the Top: The Making of The King of Comedy (18:57, SD): director Martin Scorsese and actress Sandra Bernhard separately relive memories of making the movie.Theatrical Trailer (1:29, SD)


Overall Rating: 4/5

Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy is one of his most unusual films and yet one which, like many of his other movies, investigates people on the fringes of society with their own (sometimes screwy) hopes and dreams. While the timing has produced a film darker in look than it might have had at one time, the Blu-ray release has few other problems and includes some entertaining bonus material. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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SD_Brian

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I was (pleasantly) surprised at the amount of deleted scenes as, offhand, I can't recall another release of a Scorsese movie that has included any substantial excised footage. Though all of it was quite rightly cut--the subplot with Diahnne Abbott and the man from the restaurant would have stopped the movie dead in its tracks--it was fascinating to see behind the curtain.

The King of Comedy has aged extremely well and I laughed more while watching it this time than I ever recall laughing at it previously. The banter between DeNiro and Bernhard is priceless. Overall, a terrific release of an often overlooked entry in the Scorsese canon.

Thanks for the review!
 

The Drifter

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Digging up an several-years old review I wrote up of The King of Comedy on Blu. This is actually one of my top five favorite Scorsese films - the other four being: Taxi Driver; Casino; Bringing out the Dead; and Mean Streets.

What a beautiful print - the PQ is amazing, and almost flawless. Far superior to the DVD.

The more times I see the film, the more I realize how genuinely funny this movie is; the first couple of times I saw this (on the DVD), I found it more sad than amusing, but after seeing this again on Blu I laughed out loud at numerous scenes:

Rupert Pupkin is almost the anti-Travis Bickle; while Bickle was a misanthrope that hated most of society, Pupkin really wants people to like him. I was very amused at his being overly friendly & glad handing those around him; of course, he had an agenda behind this, but that didn't make him any less funny.

That being said, Pupkin was like Bickle due to their both being on the fringes of society, and also both became famous by doing something anti-social at the end of these respective films.

Pupkin has one of the worst wardrobes I've ever seen in cinema; the blue suit, yellow tie, and white shoes ensemble were awful, and his haircut would look appropriate - on a 5-year old back in the '70's. What makes this even funnier is that you get the impression that he thinks he looks good! Hilarious!

In addition to this, Pupkin has possibly the funniest name in cinema. It was hilarious how everyone would mis-pronounce his name, i.e. "Pumpkin", "Potkin", "Pipkin", "Puffin", etc.


The scene when Pupkin & his would-be girlfriend ended up at Jerry Langford's house uninvited was awkward & painfully funny; it was hilarious how the butler & maid reacted to him; also funny was how the girlfriend stole a trinket from Jerry's table right before they were kicked out


The scenes where Pupkin was doing his monologues in his basement & was constantly interrupted by his mother telling him to keep it down were extremely funny...he reminded me of a little kid being reprimanded by his parents for acting up.

Jerry Lewis was spot-on as the put-upon celebrity Jerry Langford - who is sick & tired of putting up with people harassing him because of his famous status; great acting, but I'm guessing he was also playing himself, so it probably wasn't too much of a stretch.

I liked the "dream sequence/fantasy" scene where Pupkin imagined meeting his old high school principal on the JL show; the scene where he laughed and said, "Why do you have this guy on?! He's an enemy!" was great!

I found the stand-up routine that Pupkin did on the TV show very amusing, and laughed out loud at much of this.

I found the last scenes of the film which showed Pupkin becoming famous, i.e. being onstage, having his picture on magazine covers, all of his books at the bookstore, etc. very interesting. IMHO the message here was a commentary on how society treats these types of people, i.e. that in some cases bad behavior like this is rewarded instead of punished.

In any case, amazing film. I hope that it reached a wider audience with this Blu release.

Side-note: In the very beginning crowd scene when Rupert is trying to meet Jerry Langford, you see a glimpse of a curly-haired young woman in the background - I could swear this is the actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. She looked almost identical to the way MES looked like in Scarface (where she played Tony Montana's sister) which came out the same year as KOC (1983). I didn't see her name in the credits - even if it was her, this her name being uncredited makes sense since she had no speaking lines & was barely seen. Anyway, just a bit of trivia - I could be very wrong about this.
 
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The Drifter

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Recently did a TKOC Blu re-watch. As always with great films that I revisit, I noticed some elements I hadn't paid attention to before.

Specifically, one of the funniest scenes was when Rupert Pupkin (DeNiro) took his date, Rita (Diahnne Abbott) to that Asian restaurant. During the date, you can see a short, balding guy sitting at a table behind Rupert (but in clear sight of Rita) who is clearly making fun of/mocking Rupert on several occasions by imitating Rupert's hand gestures, etc.; Rupert can't see this, but Rita can. I found this subtle & hilarious, and just emphasized how much of schlub Rupert was - LOL.

Going along with this, what's really interesting to me is that this restaurant scene is one of the deleted/extended sequences on the Blu-ray. And, it clearly shows that the guy was trying to hook up with Rita at the restaurant under Rupert's nose. Shortly after, the guy even convinces Rita to come to his apartment - after she cuts the date with Rupert short. She briefly stays at the guy's place, but isn't comfortable & leaves shortly thereafter (without sleeping with the guy). And, we later see that Rupert was stalking her & waited until she came out of the guy's apartment so he could confront her, etc. - disturbing & also very funny


However - as much as I liked this deleted/extended scene, I'm glad it wasn't included in the film. On one hand, it emphasized Rupert's ineptitude & stalker-ish tendencies towards Rita & gave some more insight into his character/psyche. On the other hand, the scene's inclusion would have negatively affected the tone/pace of the film. So, like many deleted scenes - it's best that it wasn't included.
 

Douglas R

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I love the film and never get tired of seeing it but I do think that deleted scene is rather weird and doesn't fit well with the rest of the film, so Scorsese did the right think in cutting it out. Of course, by deleting the subsequent scene in the apartment, it make the diner's facial expression and behavior behind Pupkin, look odd and pointless.
 
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Bob Cashill

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I love the films and never get tired of seeing it but I do think that deleted scene is rather weird and doesn't fit well with the rest of the film, so Scorsese did the right think in cutting it out. Of course, by deleting the subsequent scene in the apartment, it make the diner's facial expression and behavior behind Pupkin, look odd and pointless.
The actor is Chuck Low, who later played Morrie in Goodfellas. It took me a few viewings to notice this, and I’m pretty sure Scorsese wishes we hadn’t given the backstory. But it does add a further dash of weirdness to the film.
 

The Drifter

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Here's my take on the scene: I noticed the Chuck Low character "mocking" Rupert even before seeing the deleted scene, and my impression even then was that he wanted to make him look bad in front of Rita - which made Rupert look even more pathetic than he was already. Going along with this, I also felt (correctly, as it turned out) that CL was interested in Rita & trying to get her attention.

I'm glad they included this deleted/extended scene on the Blu, since by watching this it gives more of a "story" to the Chuck Low character and his motivations, etc.

That being said, I agree it was a good idea to cut this out of the final film.
 

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