John Baumgartner


THE KING OF COMEDY (1982, Scorsese)

I love the ending to Scorsese’s hilarious dark comedy The King of Comedy.  The film is a fascinating, entertaining, and hilarious examination of a man’s obsessive ambition to be a famous comedian, even though he doesn’t nearly have the chops to pull it off — on talent alone, that is.

Robert DeNiro’s Rupert Pupkin eventually succeeds in a way that seems purely American: through determination, inappropriate actions, and the help of a whorish news cycle that rockets him to fame.  DeNiro and Martin Scorsese are pitch-perfect in this movie, jumping between humor, drama and pathos beautifully.  (Sandra Bernhard and Jerry Lewis are perfectly utilized, too.)

The last shot of the film effortlessly oozes irony, humor, tons of heart and a fantastic use of pure cinema.  It just leaves us with our thoughts, allowing us to digest everything that has come before and the surreal, yet all too real, place it’s landed our anti-hero.

Scorsese does much more with less

If you don’t know the film, or remember the shot, I’d say skip this and watch the movie!  For me, the last shot, ie the ending of the film, comes as such a surprise; you don’t realize you’ve been given this gift until after that shot’s faded out and you suddenly realize it’s the end of the film.  It’s an elegant, simple, thematically perfect and light-handed summation of everything that has come before.  And it’s a bit haunting.  Below at 1:15, but watching the whole short sequence is a must!


  • July 1, 2011

    I have to check this film out. I’ve never seen it. Thanks for the posts kimo.

  • July 6, 2011

    I love this movie. It seems even more poignant now considering the impact of reality TV.

    It just occurred to me after not seeing this movie for so many years that the final scene is ambiguous. Is this really happening? Or is it happening in his own mind, like in the beginning? Taxi-driver is a great story of how a sociopath becomes a hero, is this the same story, or is Rupert just escaping into the world of his own mind for good?


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