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SPOILERS THROUGHOUT Do Not Read Unless You've Seen The Film Rather than analyze this great and tragic movie, I will simply summarize the plot for those who need a reliable study guide. Please feel free to discuss any and all aspects, and I will chime in with as much depth as you'd like. On Amazon (not HD) 0:00-2:52 Credits, boxing by himself in ring, B&W 2:52-4:05 1964, NY City, Jake LaMotta (Middleweight World Champion 1949-1951, Robert de Niro, Best Actor winner), smartly dressed, improvising bad poetry (comedy routine) 4:05-7:42 1941, de Niro vs. Jimmy Reeves (Light Heavyweight World Champion 1939-1940, Floyd Anderson), LaMotta undefeated but behind on points, KOs Reeves at bell in 10th, but Ohio rules say Reeves wins on points (saved by the bell). Melée ensues. 7:42-8:26 1941, The Bronx, Joey LaMotta (brother, Joe Pesci, Best Supporting Actor winner) talks with mafia connection Salvy Batts (Frank Vincent) 8:26-9:45 Jake argues with his wife Irma LaMotta (Lori Anne Flax) about an overdone steak, and overturns a table 9:45-10:17 Joey and Sal (Salvy Batts) continue their heated discussion while strolling 10:17- 15:02 Jake, Irma, and Joey argue, Irma leaves, Jake asks Joey to hit him in the face multiple times which he eventually does to no avail (to prove (to himself) he can take a hit) 15:02-17:18 Jake and Joey (his sparring partner) spar in a gym, Sal and two friends walk in, Jake gets furious at the mafia being there and starts beating up Joey badly, the mafia is impressed and leaves, telling Jake "˜not to hurt himself.' 17:18- 20:35 Jake and Joey are at a public pool, the three mafia men are there talking with Vickie Bowman, to eventually become Vickie Lamotta (Cathy Moriarty, Best Supporting Actress nominee), a 15-year-old neighborhood girl, Joey insists she's a nice girl, he went out with her twice, but nothing happened even though he tried, Jake becomes enamored with her from afar. 20:35-21:30 Jake and Joey get dressed to the nines for a night on the town, to Irma's loud and profane protests 21:30-24:05 Jake and Joey walk into a jazz club, nominally a church dance, but quite jazz-bar-like and raucous, then leave shortly after arriving 24:05-31:25 The Courtship Scene, Jake and Joey drive to the swimming pool to see Vickie, Jake asks Vickie for a ride, takes her to play miniature golf, then takes her back to his father's apartment, a romance developing in subtle, nuanced tones 31:25-33:20 1943 in Detroit, Jake fights Sugar Ray Robinson, (World Welterweight Champion 1946-1951, 5-time World Middleweight Champion 1951-1960, Johnny Barnes) Jake pummels Robinson, and is awarded the fight on a decision, Robinson was now 40-1 and would end his career 5-1 against Jake 33:20-38:07 At Jake's father's apartment, Jake and Vickie were seconds away from lovemaking, although the viewer was sure it would happen, Jake then gets up and pours ice water on his privates, saying "I gotta fight Robinson" 38:07-39:40 1943 in Detroit, a new fight between Jake and Robinson, this time Robinson wins convincingly on decision 39:40-41:15 Post-fight tension and reflection in Jake's locker room 41:15- 43:50 1944-1947 - Montage of scenes (shocking the viewer by being the first color sequences in the film), including fights against Fritzie Zivic, José Basora, George Kochan, Jimmy Edgar, Bob Satterfield, Tommy Bell, Jake's wedding to Vickie, Joey's wedding to Lenora LaMotta (Theresa Soldana), and happy family scenes with children, three years duration in less than three minutes 43:50-49:30 1947, Jake's house on Pelham Parkway, The Bronx, Jake is furious at Joey that he weighs 168 pounds, and that he can't get down to the needed 155-pound weight, Jake starts becoming jealous of Vickie, and shows signs of needing to be in control 49:30-55:20 At the Copacabana Club, Jake is introduced to great applause, Vickie gets up and sees Sal and Jake is very jealous, the mob boss Tommy Como (Nicholas Colasanto) arrives and Vickie goes over to say an innocent hello, making Jake more jealous, this was the second longer (3:30+) scene in a row (the 1st time this has happened in the film) 55:20-57:00 At Jake's apartment, he wakens Vickie and asked her why she said Janiro (his upcoming opponent) had a "pretty face," he is showing signs of extreme jealousy and rage even though they haven't become manifest 57:00-58:20 1947 in New York, Jake fights Tony Janiro (Kevin Mahon) and beats him to a pulp, obviously enraged with jealousy, "He ain't pretty no more," Tommy Como says 58:20- 59:03 Jake working out in a sauna, being hectored to lose 4 pounds by his trainer, in the shortest scene thus far in the movie 59:03-63:02 Joey is in a nightclub, chatting with the mafia, he sees Vickie walk in a group which includes Sal, Joey pulls Vickie aside and berates her, she complains that she's in a sexless marriage, Joey throws a drink on Sal, who pursues him outside, Joey starts beating him, and in the melee forming outside, beats him badly 63:02-66:30 Coffee at the Debonair Social Club at a table including Joey, Sal, and a lecturing Tommy Como who insists the two shake hands, Sal walks out and Tommy lectures Joey about Jake becoming an embarrassment, 66:30-68:10 Joey meets Jake at the swimming pool where he met Vickie, he said he wants to catch her in the act just once, Joey informs him he gets a shot at the title, but only if he first flops in an upcoming fight 68:10-68:22 Weigh-in between Billy Fox (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad) and Jake 68:22-69:13 Jake and Joey meet in an underground tunnel with a mobster who said he heard Jake was going to flop, Jake assured him it wasn't going to happen 69:13-71:28 1947 in New York, Jake fights Billy Fox, lots of mafia there, Jake clocks Billy then lets him off the hook, Jake is purposely taking a beating in round 4, lets himself get TKO'd 71:28-72:18 Jake breaks down crying in the locker room in disgrace for throwing the fight 72:18-73:36 Headline: "Board Suspends LaMotta," at Jake's apartment, Joey is trying to justify Jake throwing the fight, Jake cannot justify it in his mind, Jake and Joey eat Chinese carryout, Joey assures him he'll get his title match for throwing the fight 73:36-78:20 1949 in Detroit, Jake vs. Marcel Cerdan (World Middleweight Champion, 1948-1949, Louis Raftis), the LaMottas are discussing things in their room, it's a stadium fight and it's raining, they order food, Tommy stops by the room, Jake gets furious when Vickie kisses him goodbye on the lips, Jake is disgusted with Vickie and with Joey for sticking up for her, 78:20-82:07 Jake finishes warming up on Joey's mid-section, walks out to ring to great applause, Jake winning on points, Cerdan can't answer the bell in Round 10, Jake wins the World Middleweight Championship for the first time in his life 82:07-90:50 1950, Jake's apartment on Pelham Parkway in The Bronx, Jake gets angry at Joey for kissing Vickie on the mouth, Joey chides Jake for eating and drinking too much and gaining weight, Jake asks Joey what happened when he beat up Sal, Jake suspects there was an affair between Sal and Vickie, Jake works himself into a frenzy, he accuses Joey - completely without merit - of "fucking Vickie, Joey walks out, Jake goes upstairs to find Vickie making the bed, he accuses her of fucking his brother, she locks herself in the bathroom, Vickie finally taunts him after being smacked around, Jake storms outside, the longest scene in the film so far 90:50-91:04 Vickie pursues him outside, he shoves her on the ground 91:04-91:55 At Joey's dinner table, Jake enters (followed by Vickie), and pummels Joey for "fucking his wife," nobody can stop him, he beats him in front of his children, everyone is helpless 91:55-93:55 Jake is home alone, Vickie walks in and starts packing, Jake (in classic wife-beater fashion) asks her not to leave and woos her, incredibly, she stops packing and puts her arms around him 93:55-95:03 1950 in Detroit, Jake vs. Laurent Dauthuille (Johnny Turner), Jake plays possum and is losing in the 15th round, then unleashes a furious onslaught and KOs Dauthuille 95:03-97:06 In the locker room after the shower, Vickie talks Jake into calling Joey to apologize, he does, but can't bring himself to say anything when Joey answers 97:06-101:34 1951 in Chicago, the 6th and final fight against Sugar Ray Robinson, the famous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" fight, Jake is pummeled in the 13th round into a TKO, but never leaves his feet, he taunts Sugar Ray, seemingly placing more importance in Ray's inability to knock him down than winning the fight, amazingly, this was Ray's first world championship 101:34-102:50 1956 in Miami, Jake (notably larger), Vickie, and their 3 children are relaxing by their pool being interviewed about his retirement, he mentions he just bought a nightclub 102:50-109:26 The neon lights of "Jake LaMotta's" nightclub are lit up, Jake grabs a microphone, and yucks it up with the patrons, clearly trying his hand at stand-up comedy, he mentions he and Vickie will soon be celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary, Jake nevertheless starts kissing young girls in his nightclub, Jake is told his wife is waiting outside for him 109:26-110:30 Jake walks outside to meet Vickie, it's broad daylight, she's in her car and tells him she's leaving him, she's taking custody of the kids, and if he shows his face she'll call the cops on him, she comes across as quite resolute 110:30-112:10 Jake, remarkably fatter, is woken up by two DA agents, the "young girls" in his club were 14 years old, they say they're taking him downtown 112:10-113:07 Jake knocks on Vickie's door, saying he has to get one thing, he goes after his championship belt, and starts hammering off the precious metal, making a lot of noise, 113:07-113:39 Jake at a pawn shop, trying to sell the jewels from the belt; the dealer wants the belt itself, he gets offered $1,500 but wants $2,000, he refuses and leaves 113:39-113:59 On a pay phone outside the jeweler, saying "I can't raise the $10,000." 113:59-117:00 1957 in the Dade County Stockade, forcibly led into a cell by two men, he contemplates things in his dark jail cell, and begins pounding his head against the wall, begins punching the wall, saying, Why? Why?! Why?!!, a very sad, total meltdown, he might have killed himself if he had a gun 117:00-118:26 1958 in New York City, Jake telling stand-up, he gets heckled, and challenges the heckler, it doesn't escalate, Jake introduces the next act, Emma 118:26-121:03 Jake leaves with Emma, and puts her in a cab after he sees Joey closing up his shop, he pursues Joey trying to make up, he tries to apologize, Italian-style with kisses, Joey tells him "later," this is not the right place, then gets in his car 121:03-123:55 Barbizon Plaza, a sandwich sign says, "An Evening of Jake LaMotta featuring the works of Paddy Chayefsky, Rod Serling, Shakespeare, Budd Schulberg, Tennessee Williams - Tonight," he's rehearsing in the dressing room, smoking a cigar, "Go get "˜em, champ," he says to himself, before going on stage, before shadowboxing in the mirror several times, you can tell he wants those days back badly 123:55-124:45 The text appears on the screen, one line at a time, in black and white: "So, for the second time [the Pharisees] summoned the man who had been blind and said: "Speak the truth before God. We know this fellow is a sinner." "Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know," the man replied. "All I know is this: once I was blind and now I can see." John IX. 24-26 the New English Bible Remembering Haig P. Manoogian, teacher. May 23, 1916-May 26-1980 With Love and resolution, Marty. 124:45-129:04 Closing credits A magnificent film. I won't usually take this type of notes while watching films because it's a brutal amount of work, and detracts immensely from the enjoyment of the film, but in this case, I'm glad I did because I feel like I really know it well now.
I'm not a big fan of violent gangster films - Bonnie and Clyde started it all in 1967, and it continued to "go downhill" (that's my own personal term) during the next 40-50 years, finally having reached its basal conclusion with as much graphic violence as the CGI staff has time to program. I don't like anything by Quentin Tarantino (not Pulp Fiction, not Reservoir Dogs, not anything), but I do enjoy several works by Martin Scorsese, in a "guilty pleasure" sort of way. In theory non-fiction, as it reflects Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill - who narrates the film - I suppose it reflects real-world violence, and is, in that sense, "important." Looking back, it's hard to believe that this film was made on a $25 million budget in 1990, and brought in $47 million at the box office as recently as 1990 - a success, sure, but not a blockbuster given how famous the movie is. Roger Ebert named it, "The best mob movie ever," and GoodFellas is #94 on AFI's "100 Years, 100 Movies" list. There's no doubt about it: It's famous.
I remember watching "The Mechanic" (1972) with my dad when I was a child. I'm in yet another "Jack Reacher" mood, but don't want to completely waste my time - I remembered enjoying this as a child, and it's in a similar genre (sort of), so why not relive my childhood, and watch something with some historical merit? Besides, it features bad-ass Charles Bronson as an assassin - what more could you want in a mindless action film? Note also that producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler would go on to produce "Raging Bull" eight years later. What a difference a superstar director (Martin Scorsese) makes! "The Mechanic" is noteworthy in that it has *no* dialogue of any kind for the first sixteen minutes (I knew this going into the film). This was particularly interesting to me because at around the two-minute point, a single, dissonant, ominous-sounding, organ chord starts to build up, Bolero-style, and you wonder how it could possibly go on for another 13 minutes - mercifully, there's a lull in the tension, and it dies down. One thing this sixteen minutes of no dialogue does is allow for a leisurely presentation of the opening credits, which you don't mind, because there is action taking place on the screen. The first shot of Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) in his own environment shows that he is a man of taste - while alone in his thoughtfully furnished abode, he turns on a beautiful, overture-like piece on a cassette recorder - probably a slow movement from a symphony - highlighted by angelic-sounding violins, and (this is the advantage of having a food and wine critic do your film reviews, because I suspect I'm the first person in history to mention this) is drinking a bottle of Cheval Blanc, and given the age of the film, and Cheval Blanc's vintage track-record in the 60s, my guess would be that it's a '64 - he didn't decant it, so it couldn't be too old - but he needs a better claret glass than he has. This type of juxtaposition with the gritty and the urbane is exactly why "Road House" is a guilty pleasure of mine, and why I occasionally enjoy films like The Mechanic. How's this for a blast-from-the-past and product placement? The Mechanic is an interesting take on the classic tale of The Great Master taking on an apprentice, with some natural talent, under his wing. Early in the movie, you may recognize Keenan Wynn, who starred in "The Man in the Funny Suit" (he was the son of Ed Wynn), and thus, once again, so many things trace back to Rod Serling. Keenan Wynn played Harry McKenna, whose son, Steve McKenna, was played by the rising (and since hard-fallen) star Jan-Michael Vincent, who is The Mechanic's apprentice. This is sort of like an amoral version of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." *** SPOILER ALERT *** Given that they only touched on Bishop's character development (albeit clearly showing he's depressed, anxious, and lonely), I'm not convinced that a man of his skill-set - which is nearly superhuman - would so willingly take on an apprentice without testing him "to the max" first - and by "to the max," I mean, having him kill someone and putting his (McKenna's) entire life in Bishop's hands - Bishop never tested him like that, and it's simply not plausible that he would have taken McKenna on so willingly without having done so first, not when he's playing at this level. (I should add that I'm only an hour into the film, and have forty minutes left, so he may have something else up his sleeve, but Bishop essentially showed his hand to a virtual unknown, without asking anything in return first). Someone *this* good, with this much invested into his lifestyle (and I mean, Bishop was the *ultimate* assassin), would never take that risk without having something heavy and lethal to hang over McKenna's head - just in case. Well, there are less than twenty minutes left in the movie, and it's been obvious for awhile that the entire paragraph above was justified, but naive. I am very curious to see how this is going to play out, and wondering how Bishop is keeping his sanity. You'll know what I mean when you see the film (they recently arrived in Italy). Funny, I just rewatched "The Departed," and there is some overlapping thematic material in these two movies (as in, "rats like cheese"). Who's going to crack first, I wonder - the underlying tension introduced in the past 10-20 minutes is now permanent until something happens. All I know is this: Any film that makes you worry about the fate of a cold-blooded killer can't be all bad, but I'm nearly 100% confident that Bishop is going to be okay, and I'll tell you why when I finish the film - the answer was right before my eyes about forty-five minutes ago. The movie is over, and I was wrong. I thought *sure* the karate match between the old master and the young, cocky kid who broke the rules (about an hour into the movie) was a direct parallel to what would happen at the end. It wasn't, and I'm shocked that Bishop would put himself in the position he did, regardless of what eventually happened to McKenna. This movie "broke the rules" of drama by not letting me take advantage of the foreshadowing I saw, but I guess everyone got their comeuppance in the end, so it's dramatically complete, and really - where was Bishop going to go? For that matter, where was McKenna going to go? His snuffing of Bishop was *not* sanctioned by Bishop's employers (even though the film could have made that more clear), and they were angry about Bishop taking him on as an apprentice. It's still not clear to me why Bishop would unilaterally take on a partner without even asking his mysterious, shady, yet clearly *very* powerful bosses - he was only asking for trouble, and sure enough, he got it. I also remember the last scene of the movie very well, although I didn't remember it was from this film (I last saw this with my dad when I was eleven). It is just not reconcilable that Bishop would do this to himself, and that's the one fatal flaw in The Mechanic - he was too smart, with too much to lose, to let himself slip up like this, especially when he knew it was coming. Yes, he essentially "insured" his life, but to what end? Thus, The Mechanic just isn't a great film - it's a good action flick, with slightly insufficient character development, and inadequate justification of the choices Bishop made - it's worth watching as long as you know you're not seeing anything profound, but it just doesn't make enough sense for any intelligent person to buy into. And there you have the opinion of DonRocks.