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Martin Scorsese’s ‘King of Comedy’ to Close 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

Martin Scorsese's 'King of Comedy' to Close 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

Rupert Pupkin. The name slides off the tongue like luggage
off an airport carousel. And as portrayed by Robert De Niro — post Jake
LaMotta, pre Noodles Aaronsen — he is one of the more memorable pieces of
cultural/emotional baggage produced by the American screen. A hero of dubious
sanity. Dubious worth. More cringe-worthy than an episode of “Two Broke
Girls.” He is “The King of Comedy.” And he will be closing the Tribeca Film
Festival on April 27.

The festival is
announcing today that then newly restored, 30th anniversary version of Martin
Scorsese’s notorious, groundbreaking film (with its startling performance by
Jerry Lewis) would bring the 12th edition of the sort-of-downtown Manhattan
festival to a close. It would be hard to think of a better choice. De Niro is,
of course, one of the festival’s founders (with Jane Rosenthal and Craig
Hatkoff) and the film, which has been restored by the Film Foundation, Regency
Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox, seems ripe for our times. Rupert was
scary in 1983. Now he seems scary, and prescient.

For those who don’t
know, Rupert is a self-deluded would-be comic who, with his equally crazy
accomplice Masha (Sandra Bernhard) kidnaps the king of late-night TV, Jerry
Langford (Lewis), and holds him hostage so he can do his act on Langford’s
show.  It was dark, it was dangerous, and
Rupert’s comedy was intentionally horrible. What’ll be interesting is to see if
audiences find him flat-out funnier now than they did in 1983, and whether the
dynamics of the film have changed: The standards of comedy are so much lower
now, you can almost imagine some nitwit at a network offering Pupkin his own

In the
announcement from Tribeca, co-founder Rosenthakl said, “Twelve years ago, when
we announced the first festival, it was Marty’s idea for us to feature restored
and rediscovered films … ‘The King of Comedy’ was so ahead of its time, it
seems more relevant today than it was 30 years ago. We are so grateful to Jim
Gianopulos and Regency for helping to restore such an iconic film and ensuring
it remains a part of our cultural heritage.”

“The King of
Comedy’ is being restored digitally in 4K from the original camera negatives at
Sony Colorworks; John Polito at Audio Mechanics is digitally restoring the
soundtrack. The Film Foundation is Scorsese’s organization, dedicated to film

In the prepared
release, De Niro added, “I was a big fan of the script and was very excited to
do it with Marty and happy that we finally made it. The fact that it’s been
restored (hard to believe that so many years have passed) is even all the
better, and I can’t wait to see it on our closing night.”

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