The idea for writing a book on the making of Raging Bull came when I met up with Robert De Niro in December 2019 to present him with his copy of Coattail’s previous publication, ‘One Shot: The Making of The Deer Hunter’, which he had kindly contributed to. Bob asked me what was next, and I wasn’t going to waste that opportunity. I immediately replied that a book on Raging Bull would be a dream.
With the UK entering lockdown in March 2020, I emailed Bob and asked if it would be okay to begin work on telling the story of the making of Raging Bull. Receiving the green light, I started to approach the film’s cast and crew to share their memories to add to the research I was accumulating. Our book was underway.
Initially directing a movie about boxing did not appeal to Martin Scorsese. “The idea of, ‘Let’s get two guys into the ring and let them hit each other,’ was something I didn’t – couldn’t – grasp,” he has said. In fact, any form of sport was of little interest, with the director stating ‘if there was a ball involved then forget it.’
Scorsese’s passion outside of film was music, not sport. But De Niro felt there was something within the life of former champ Jake LaMotta that had real cinematic possibilities and began a war of attrition on Scorsese, which ultimately saw the director acquiesce.
Interviewing Bob, Marty, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, John Turturro, producer Irwin Winkler, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, screenwriter Paul Schrader, and many others, revealed how they dissected a seemingly self-destructive man, whose primary form of communication was through violence, and gave us unquestionably one of the greatest films of all-time.
Raging Bull marked Scorsese’s fourth collaboration with De Niro, and in the four decades since its release it has lost none of its ability to astonish. Writing the book, and choosing the images and ephemera to adorn it, has been a rare privilege and honour.
‘Raging Bull – The Making Of’ by Jay Glennie is available to pre-order from coattail-publications.com
Published 26 Mar 2021
By Jay Glennie
Robert De Niro opens his archives for new book ‘One Shot The Making of The Deer Hunter’.
By Luís Azevedo
Is the American mobster movie destined to go the same way as the western?
An incredible video essay looks at divine presence in the work of this American master.