Cinematic Atlas: A Guide to Martin Scorsese's New York

Hotel Markwell (Raging Bull, 1980)

Neighborhood: Times Square
Address220 West 49th St.

By this point in the film, De Niro has committed violence against his body by gorging himself, letting his body bloat and sag and swell. His breathing is labored, his waist bulges. Film scholars have dedicated entire essays to De Niro's physical transformation, which involved time spent in Italy and the great actor literally fattening himself up like he was held captive in a fairy tale, a variation on Hansel and Gretel where the children obey the witch. Some have argued that much of the film's drama comes from the actor's transformation from beautiful and fit to slovenly and fat.

If each physical action De Niro as La Motta takes with the extra weight is demeaning, he commits even more offense against himself by doing awful stand-up routines for hostile audiences. La Motta is leaving one of those acts in this scene. He emerges from the subterranean venue next to the Hotel Markwell with a showgirl he soon abandons after spotting his estranged brother across the street. From there, the scene only grows more uncomfortable.

The club La Motta emerges from is now an Italian restaurant called Da Marino. Across the street is the theater showing Chicago. The wall is lined with posters of perfectly proportioned women, typically underdressed. The street is often packed, people lining down the block before the show begins.

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