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The King of Comedy

  • 1h 49m


Coming soon


  • Duration 1h 49m

USA | 1982 | 109’ | PG | Martin Scorsese

Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Berhard

Rupert Pupkin is a failure in life but a celebrity in his own mind, hosting an imaginary talk show in his mother's basement. When he meets actual talk show host Jerry Langford, he's convinced it will provide his big break, but Langford isn't interested in the would-be comedian. Undaunted, Pupkin kidnaps Langford, offering his release in exchange for a guest spot on Langford's show. A clear inspiration for more recent film The Joker, this intense black comedy with three incredible performances (Jerry Lewis, playing very much against type, is a revelation; Sandra Bernhard in her first major role; De Niro in his prime) are carefully balanced in this uneasy look at fame.

“It's very funny...yet it's also bristly, sometimes manic to the edge of lunacy and, along the way, terrifying.”
- Vincent Canby, New York Times

Screening as part of Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. bfi.org.uk/powell-and-pressburger.

Art and Obsession
Culminating in our final film in the season, we present a series of films on art and obsession. The origin of story of The Red Shoes was inspired by an incident in Hans Christian Anderson’s childhood where he saw his father create the most beautiful shoes for a customer but when she insulted him he destroyed them. Inspired by this we look at other obsessives in cinema, who take the creative spark to an obsessive extreme.