Tag Archives: Yaphet Kotto

Robert De Niro’s Greatest Roles

The Telegraph has posted a gallery of Robert De Niro’s greatest roles. The list includes Raging Bull, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver, and The Godfather Part II, but also We’re No Angels, Midnight Run, and The Untouchables. Captions below are from the Telegraph gallery.

Ragingbull2_2644954kAs Jake Lamotta in RAGING BULL.

“Often cited as one of America’s finest films, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull charts the rise and fall of real life boxer Jake Lamotta. Difficult to watch, De Niro’s Lamotta is violent and cruel on a path to self destruction as he deals with his inner demons. De Niro ‘ain’t going down for nobody’ and this emotionally charged role is one of his best.”

CAPE FEAR, Robert De Niro, 1991

As Max Cady in CAPE FEAR.

“De Niro’s performance as Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 1962 classic makes Travis Bickle look like a Sunday School teacher. Cady, having just been released from prison for rape, is intent on destroying the urbane lawyer (Nick Nolte) who testified against him. De Niro, covered in nasty tattoos, slowly seeps into your skin, becoming the person you’d least like to live next door to.”

robert_de_niro___taxi_driver_by_gabrielttoro-d6gv2rsAs Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER.

“Martin Scorsese’s film takes you by the scruff of the neck and takes you into the dangerous, decaying New York of the Seventies. De Niro’s Travis Bickle, the taxi driver of the title is a porn-obsessed loner who ends up as a would be assassin. The scene in which Bickle talks to himself in the mirror – ‘You talkin’ to me?’ is De Niro’s most famous, and one of the most imitated (badly) in cinema history. ”

robert-de-niro-the-godfather_110383-1600x1200Playing Vito Corleone in THE GODFATHER PART II.

“As Vito Corleone, a young De Niro transforms from man to Don in this fantastic revenge story. Corleone travels to Siciliy, whereupon he delivers the fateful line to his father’s murderer, Don Ciccio (Guiseppe Sillato): ‘My father’s name was Antonio Andolini…and this is for you!’ What a way to take the final step into becoming The Godfather. ”

wna-xTeamed with Sean Penn in WE’RE NO ANGELS.

This film “shows Bobby D’s propensity to ‘goof’ and show he’s got a fun side. Actually, he’s good fun in this as Ned (although it looks as if someone’s stuffed his mouth with cotton wool), an escaped convict in Depression-era America who, together with Sean Penn’s Jim is mistaken for a priest. Mistaken identity high-jinks abound, with De Niro gamely tucking into” the David Mamet script for director Neil Jordan.

Midnight-Run-PosterOpposite Charles Grodin in MIDNIGHT RUN.

“We know Robert De Niro’s class as a dramatic actor but Midnight Run, in which he stars as bounty hunter Jack Walsh, showed he could be very funny in a comedy role. His interplay with Charles Grodin (Jonathan Mardukas) and the FBI agent played by Yaphet Kotto are a delight and the whole film crackles with energy. You can tell De Niro enjoyed making this one.”

ACAs Al Capone in THE UNTOUCHABLES.

“Perhaps the star’s broadest, baddest, most cartoonish villain, a hatefully degenerate Al Capone in Brian De Palma’s vision of crime-ridden Chicago. Thinning hair scraped back and mouth never far from a malevolent smirk, he circles underlings at a black-tie dinner before bringing a baseball bat down on the unlucky head of a greedy cheat.”

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Actually, De Niro’s most cartoonish villain was a role not included in the Telegraph gallery: Fearless Leader in THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.

The rest of the Telegraph list: King of Comedy; Mean Streets; New York, New York; What Just Happened; Jackie Brown; Meet the Parents; Sleepers; Casino; Falling in Love; Heat; Goodfellas; The Deer Hunter; and Brazil.

MIDNIGHT RUN—”The Movie That Made Robert De Niro Bankable”

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Under the title “The Movie That Made Robert De Niro Bankable,” Vulture is running an excerpt from critic Glenn Kenny’s new book Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor.

Kenny positions MIDNIGHT RUN as De Niro’s initial venture away from maverick filmmaking, his “first foray into middle of the road movies” of the Hollywood mainstream. “It’s Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple with guns,” says Kenny. The appeal of the film rests primarily on the chemistry between De Niro and co-star Charles Grodin; Kenny calls their matchup “inspired.”

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The film opened well, says Kenny, quoting the New York Daily News, which reported that the movie was “among the nation’s top five box office hits — a select group De Niro rarely inhabits (its returns are already more than the total grosses of such De Niro films as Falling in Love and True Confessions).”  Matt Singer, writing in The Dissolve, states that appreciation for the film has grown over time, that it “has slowly risen in stature thanks to decades of play on cable, VHS, and DVD” and is beloved by many. Actor Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation) considers MIDNIGHT RUN a film that must be seen by everyone. Interviewed by Singer, Scott tells why.

“The Dissolve: Why is Midnight Run compulsory viewing?

Adam Scott: I feel like Midnight Run has every single element I look for in a movie. It’s just kind of a grab-bag of everything. But it also isn’t self-aware at all; it’s just a movie that happens to hit upon everything that satisfies me as a moviegoer. It’s really, really funny. Its action scenes are perfectly done. It’s genuinely suspenseful; it’s scary at times. It’s very sad at times. There are two very real lump-in-the-throat moments. It’s such a whole meal, it’s one of my favorite movies.”

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Scott also highlights the chemistry between the two leading men.

“The Dissolve: Now I’m going to put you on the spot with a Sophie’s Choice: Who is better in the movie, De Niro or Grodin?

Scott: Man, the movie is so dependent upon their relationship and the interplay between those two guys, I absolutely cannot separate them. Like the “litmus configuration” scene. If that was just one of them, and someone else that couldn’t really keep up with the other, it wouldn’t work, and that’s the whole movie. I don’t think it’s possible to parse out those performances; I think one is simply not possible without the other.”

In fact the cast is filled with wonderful actors giving excellent performances. Writing for Hitfix, Alan Sepinwall notes that the picture “provides room for a small army of great character actors doing fine work. I’m not sure Dennis Farina‘s ever been better (and certainly not funnier) than he is as the hot-tempered Jimmy Serrano, Joe Pantoliano delivers one of his funniest, oiliest performances of that phase of his career as Eddie, John Ashton is wonderful as Marvin, Yaphet Kotto‘s temper is so well-used. This is the first movie where I really noticed Philip Baker Hall (who’s mainly on the receiving end of various threats and one-liners as Serrano’s wary attorney Sidney), for instance. It’s just overflowing with ‘Hey, It’s That Guy!’s.”

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But the critical point is this: De Niro is funny. Sepinwall says, “De Niro is one of the greatest actors the cinema’s ever seen, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he can deliver an indelible performance. But in light of his career both before and after, his Jack Walsh is kind of startling. Going into the movie, he was known, understandably, as a powerhouse dramatic actor, one with a pair of Oscars on his mantle for playing the young Vito Corleone and Jake La Motta, and though there were sometimes funny moments in his films, he’d never done a pure comedy before. “Midnight Run” was actually something of a consolation prize after he failed to get the Tom Hanks part in “Big,” and though the movie features action, suspense and genuine drama … it’s primarily a comedy, and De Niro is incredibly funny in it. Though it would have been easy for De Niro, director Martin Brest and writer George Gallo to just make Jack the straight man to The Duke, he’s given a wonderful, blunt, sarcastic sense of humor and can play off of every character in the movie. (He’s nearly as funny opposite, say, Yaphet Kotto as Alonzo Mosley as he is with Grodin.) ”

MV5BMTI3NzkwNTgwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDk3OTgwMw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Kenny concludes: “From this point forward, De Niro would be unstoppable in a new and different way.”