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Making their starring debuts, Joe Pesci as La Motta's long-suffering brother and manager, and Cathy Moriarty as his delicate-featured, abused child-wife, both grab their opportunities with both hands. But the film's dominated from the outset by De Niro's tour de force performance as the brutal, hair-triggered La Motta, viciously lashing out at the world in self-destructive fury. De Niro, who had first suggested the project to Scorsese back in 1973, threw himself into the role with near-demented dedication, submitting to a full year's punishing training programme to gain a boxer's physique and fighting skills--then taking two months off in Europe to stuff himself relentlessly till he had gained 60 lbs to play the slobbish, washed-up ex-champ. It's a performance of scary believability that makes you realise how casually, these days, the actor is coasting through his later career. Raging Bull was nominated for eight Oscars and picked up two, one for De Niro, and one for Thelma Schoonmaker's editing.
On the DVD: not much, just the original trailer, and a brief promo for some of MGM's other DVD releases. There's some useful production info in the printed booklet enclosed in the box, but couldn't they have got Marty to say a few words? The images look stunning in their original widescreen (1.85:1) ratio, but neither the Dolby Digital sound nor the print seems to have been remastered. Such a major re-release deserved a little more effort. --Philip Kemp