Friday, September 17, 2010

The World Will Know Rupert Pupkin

The King of Comedy
[theatrical release]
filmed in 1982
(released in February 18, 1983)


Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Paul D. Zimmermann

Robert be Niro.......Rupert Pupkin
Jerry Lewis............Jerry Langford
Diahnne Abbott......Rita
Sandra Bernhard....Masha
Shelley Hack...........Cathy Long
Edgar J. Scherick....Wilson Crockett


Rupert Pupkin is a fame-aspiring comic who has his sights set on TV, his ticket to fame. An “accidental” meeting one evening with late night show host and comic Jerry Langford (Rupert saves Langford from the prying lenses of the paparazzi) provides him with an opportunity to finally make his dream come true. Using this one-time meeting as leverage, he tries to muscle his way into Langford’s show but is given the run around by Cathy Long, Langford’s smooth production exec. But this doesn’t dissuade Rupert as he gets more and more aggressive with his name-dropping and, eventually, stalking until he finally felt he had to do something drastic. Teaming up with Langford’s obsessed fan Marsha, he kidnaps the famed host. His ransom: Rupert makes an appearance on the late night show. After Rupert performs his routine, Langford is set free. Rupert is arrested, goes to jail and causes a media frenzy. The media extensively covers his notoriety and his biography quickly becomes a bestseller. And by the time he is released from jail, he is a “famed comic” with a late night show of his own.


Released in 1983, this movie was so way ahead of its time. “I’ll do anything to become famous” is so common nowadays that upon watching the film, you don’t get a feeling that this is far from reality, unlike at the time when the film was released (it was so far out there that the film tanked at the box office.) Martin Scorsese handled the film so well that it is such a compelling piece to watch. Everyone in the cast gave such a commendable performance, from De Niro to Bernhard, brilliant.

Shelley Hack herself shined in her role as Cathy Long. Her very accommodating welcome and delicate but firm rejection of Rupert for Langford’s show was right on the dot. Watch the scene where she tries to control her temper as Rupert subtly insults her position as a Langford decision-maker, brilliant. Her scenes with De Niro are pivotal to the story and won’t disappoint.

Over all the film is a gem. Ahead of its time but very significant today. If you can get it, watch it.