Archive for March, 2009

MICHAEL COLLINS (Irish)  (1890  –  1922)
Irish nationalist.

To the British he was the most dreaded man in the Empire. But he was sheltered and fed by the common folks of Ireland who did not think twice about running messages or arms for him. Without the ‘civil support’ he could have achieved nothing. Mao’s ‘fish in the sea’ and Collin’s ‘safe houses’ though far removed in time mean one and the same thing – an essential component in guerrilla warfare. ‘Like Che Guevara, Collins preferred people when they were dressed up in uniforms. This provided the context for the only sort of politics he found tolerable.
Collins was a born leader, methodical and with demonaical energy to get things done. He made up his mind instantly and an order once given, was rarely changed.His seemingly extraordinary luck to escape the British dragnet was his presence of mind. His remarkable cool even while closed in and his ability to move through as if he weren’t a fugitive worked for him time and again. It was largely his achievement to have diminished the influence of the moderates in the Sinn Fein movement by rigging the General election of 14, Dec 1919 – the German plot swoops and conscription scare created a favorable situation. (This was to plague him in the long term, because the voice of moderates was muted in the National Assembly when he desperately needed it in support for the Anglo-Irish treaty), of extremists to the convention of 1919. He had originally proposed to steal the Stone of Destiny from Westminister Abbey, but – this seeing inadequate – he turned his considerable talents to the systematic assassination of British Intelligence officials in Dublin. During the Anglo-Irish troubles of 1920-1921, Collins emerged as a formidable military organiser. In the autumn of 1921 he was sent off by the Dàil cabinet as one of the Irish delegates to the Treaty negotiations in London; as a result he was landed with the defence of the negotiated Free State and after the death of Arthur Griffiths in August 1922 he became head of the government. In this role he lasted less than two weeks before his own death in a Republican ambush in his native country Cork.

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In an ecosystem one finds a species around which life forms manage the web of life. Such an order is achieved not by any common consent but in the way each life form exercises its own oneness. Off the coast of South California sea otters are ‘keystone’ animals. By knocking out the keystone what delicate balance is achieved will be disrupted. Sea otters were extensively hunted down in 18th and 19th centuries for their fur. In their near extinction sea urchins multiplied beyond limit. They in turn caused havoc by eating the giant kelps that served as a shelter for seals.


From the above we may take that any change in a well entrenched system is bound to create opportunities: for some it sounds the clarion call to come out of the slumber and for some it means the beginning of the end. Was not George W. Bush too simplistic to have overthrown Saddam Hussein without thinking of all the ripple effect it might cause? Saddam was certainly a brute and a tyrant who began with the blessings of the US government. He was like a keystone whose brutality merely kept in check forces that would have sooner or later broken down  the political architecture of the Middle East. Into such natural process were the lives of US soldiers ( who died there) worthwhile? If Bush thought he could mold Iraq in the lines of US model of government, he could not have been more wrong. No country may be exact copy of another and each country takes the line of least resistance that is already determined by so many fissures in the nation’s socio-cultural stratum. I hope sacrifices of those young service men were not in vain or as a bung to stop the bilge of some fools political philosophy.

Whenever I hear of self-proclaimed reformers who want to create a paradise Lenin comes to mind and history is replete with examples and from these I believe man who serve as a keystone is the first to go down in the face of pull and push of history. Saddam is one as Bush and sooner one learns not to hide close to these defective keystones the better.


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The outstanding French woman writer of the first half of the 20th century, whose novels largely concerned with the pleasures and pain of love, are remarkable for their exact sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes textures and colours. Reared in a village in Burgundy where a kind and wise mother awakened her to the wonders of everything that germinates and blossoms or flies. She accepted the world as it was and wrote of love and nature with a mixture of innocence and guile and an acute observation that endeared her to five decades of readers who forgetting the scandals of her life eventually made her a member of the Belgian Royal Academy (1935), the French Academie Goncourt 1954 and a Grand Officer of the Legion D’Honneur. La Vagebond, La Paix Chez les Betes belong to her years of apprenticeship. After 1920 came the decade of her masterpieces which include ‘Cheri’ (1920) and ‘La Fin de la Cherie’ (1926). Special mention should be made of her evocative prose distilling her nostalgic memories of her childhood or going back to the faded pleasures and disillusions of shallow love affairs. ‘La maison de Claudine’ (1922) and ‘Side’ (1930). After thirty she enjoyed twenty five productive and serene years. ‘Gigi’ (1944), which is about a girl reared by two elderly sisters to become a courtesan, and ‘L’Etoile Vesper’ (1947) and ‘La Fanel Bleu’ (1949) are reminicences which belong to the last period. Her format was the novella and her style, a blend of sophistication and natural, laced with all the cadences of sensuous pleasures and intuitive acumen. She ended her days a legendary figure surrounded by her beloved cats confined to her beautiful Palais Royal Apartment overlooking Paris.


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Not so long ago there lived in Green Acres a toad who thought very highly of himself. He was yellow in colour. As yellow as a buttercup in full bloom. Among so many toads clad in drab colors his yellow always stood out. Besides he had his warts all in right places and these added to his personality greatly.( He was proud of the third wart away from his right shoulder.) He, in short made a splash wherever he went. Having born with a feeling he was quite a class apart he set out to prove himself. “None is clever as I am!” he exclaimed assuredly one morning. He looked about and saw to his delight he stood right in front of the most exclusive club in town. ‘Why didn’t I think of this before?’ he asked himself. The Club For Exceptional Toads admitted only those toads who had exceptional qualities. Our hero saw the imposing building. Everything about it had something special. He hopped along the broad steps and passed through ornate front door into the office. He preened himself before he announced thus, ”You must be pleased to know I am here (ahem) for membership. Highly gifted, I dare say, I am.” The secretary with his green skin flecked with brown spots averted his eyes as he took out the club register. His face showed that he acknowledged quality the moment he saw it. The caller casually dropped he would have joined earlier had he time to stop counting his many-sided talents. “Everyday I stand astonished at myself!” said he in a whisper. It was a whisper alright but those toads in the back-room looked askance at one another and fled. The common toad knew the toad standing before him needed an answer. “Don’t I look exceptional?”the caller asked. The toad clutching at that Club register dared not express an opinion. Having opened at a fresh page he looked up and asked his name. It was the turn of the toad as yellow as a pat of butter to turn purple. He felt embarrassed and the third wart away from his right shoulder showed it. He blurted out that he had no name. “You see my parents died in rather unfortunate circumstances before they could choose one.” The secretary pointed to the rules of admittance and said it was indeed unfortunate. “The door shall remain shut on any one who has no name to speak of. That is the rule.” He mechanically repeated the same. Having done so he waited for the toad to leave. The toad remonstrated that the rule he quoted was for those who had nothing else than being exceptional.” Whereas I am much more.” He went on to demonstrate his point. “I can do hundred things at a time.” said he at the end. It was a performance worthy of a toad as accomplished as he. “Well, you are a paradigm of talent. Exceptional. One in a trillion. But rules are rules.” Said the secretary. He had now at hand the difficult task of turning down one so exceptional as he. He said finally,”Get a name and come again. Good day!” The yellow toad left. He was mortified at his lapse. Forgetting such a simple matter as a name did no credit, so he thought. ‘Not my parents but myself is to blame.’ He vowed to correct the matter without any delay. So he went far and wide in search of a name. One day he found himself in a forest which he thought was very peculiar. Every sapling had a pot to itself and a name pasted on its sides. Also its scientific name. He never realized trees carried their names or began their lives in pots. ”Most peculiar,” he wondered. His travels showed he still had a long way to go. There were gaps in his knowledge, a painful realization that was as bad as not having a name. Later in the night he found himself among other travelers as he, around a camp fire; and when his turn came he narrated his curious experience he had earlier in the day. Others were intrigued. They asked for particulars and he said he would take them to the forest himself. Next morning he did as he promised. To his surprise they broke out into a titter that soon escalated into the gale force of laughter. Some were doubled up with laughter while a few rolled on the ground unable to contain themselves. Some slapped each other in thundering hilarity. One said at the end, ”It is no forest! It is a nursery. OOOH!” The yellow toad would have lost his temper but he realized they were right. At least he learnt something new. Learning by such methods, of being taken for a fool however for an hour or two, was not pleasant. He said to himself,”These wiseacres who laugh me down shall soon leave. No more foolish than they came in. But I leave this place wiser!” While he groaned he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw another yellow toad, as yellow as he, looking at him curiously. “Will you walk with me?” He instantly felt sympathy in her voice. She was rather pleasant chatting of this and that. While trying to keep track of her conversation he forgot his earlier humiliation. On the other hand he felt a new lease of life. He did not know what it was but she made him new. All new and complete! As they reached a rain forest she said,”I have a confession to make!”He was not sure if he were keen to hear one. Since her company did a world of good he could not refuse her. So he waited. She said,”I have no name. My parents were washed away in a flashflood before they could give me one.” He almost jumped out of his skin! He was so astounded at the coincidence. Later in the day they were chatting before supper. A plump grasshopper made a leap from among the grass, which did not go unnoticed. Both toads shot their tongues out. At the same time. “Half-Half!” he said. “Half-Half!” she said. He had the grasshopper in his grip and asked how she liked to have her supper done. “Braised with a touch of honey.” She replied. He cooked the meal exactly the way she wanted it and gallantly offered the whole. She offered him his share but he refused it. Having quickly found another, he ate his meal in perfect enjoyment of her company. She also was delighted. “I found my name!” she exclaimed after clearing the plates.”Half-Half,”said she. “I also found mine!”he said in his turn, “Half-Half!” “Half-Half!” They said in unison. They were deliciously happy.


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Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) was described by his first teacher as ‘impenetrably stupid.’ Balzac similarly was written away as useless.Einstein was not expected to set the world on fire either. Many more instances could be cited where those who were in authority so lightly dismissed those youths who didn’t fit their mold. Are lives of men and women such stuff, as simple and regular as some rock specimens to be labeled and put away?
Naturally Oliver Goldsmith in the eyes of his peers might have seemed ’stupid’. They might have in the past predicted similarly and were found right.  The only difference between Oliver and other boys was in this: other boys compromised with the opinion of the elders while he didn’t. Oliver Goldsmith explored his life despite of his uncommon clumsiness and many failings, to find its common center. His creative output (among which ‘The Vicar of Wakefield ‘She stoops to conquer and many poems are literary gems) gave his life its compactness.

I have made a fool of myself many times. I might again make mistakes. But these are nothing compared to the one I could if I go by opinion of others. They might write me off from mistakes. But how right they are to put a seal on my life for good or bad? My growth is not driven by my mistakes but from my life force . It is such I could use it as a straw or as a steam roller, which coupled with my character shall smash to powder every negative aside of others that is not truly part of me. These mistakes are incidentals due to my trust misplaced in others or my inability to change shapes of my words to counter false friends. I came across the case of art dealer Lawrence Salander, 59, who was arrested at his New York home on Thursday, when he and his gallery were charged with 100 counts, including grand larceny and securities fraud. So far, authorities have identified 26 victims of Salander’s scheme, including McEnroe, who lost $2 million after investing a half share in two paintings, which was sold at the same time to another collector. ( It is learned that McEnroe never recouped the money.)

The con artist’s scheme, which lasted from 1994 to 2007, included luring investors who paid cash in exchange for shares of ownership of works of art.Why did he do it? He ‘needed’ the money to fund “an extravagant lifestyle” of lavish parties and private jets. Most of the artworks, which are yet to be valued, are being held in the custody of a bankruptcy court in Poughkeepsie, New York. Many of the investors have filed civil claims against Salander and his gallery, which filed for bankruptcy and closed in 2007. Was such a charade really necessary? What scandalous times do we live in where a man would rather be known for a crook than as one whose word is his bond and as straight as an arrow. What is Madoff now worth for?(It seems a Milwauee man won at Lotto $1500 by using his prison number. It is is the only good it has done in his case.) Who cares for Madoff’s philanthropic works now by hindsight are equated for trapping the unwary investors. Even now from two examples cited above we may understand that fraudsters get their comeuppance sooner or later.

Our lives are blank pages where what is written must be the truth of our character that met the challenge of our circumstances and like the white plume of Cyrano de Bergerac remains unsullied. It s panache of the  highest sort.

Tailpiece: In cases where doubt exists the best course open for any is to prove by his or her deeds.

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Raging Bull is a 1980 biopic on Jack La Motta and directed by Martin Scorsese. Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin wrote the script from the memoir Raging Bull: My Story.
The ageing boxer in the beginning sequence alludes to the “I shouda have been a contender” scene from On The Waterfront complaining that his brother should have been there for him. Terry Malloy also suffered the indignity of taking a dive as he did but Terry exuded a nobility that transcended his circumstances. Jack La Motto was paranoiac, foul mouthed and with a taste for underage girls. Then Terry was pure make-believe while the boxer was large as life. Mardik Martin wrote the script in a conventional manner closer in spirit to the biography. Paul Schrader made several changes to the script, one of which was to make the role of Joey La Motta, Jake’s brother, the second most prominent character. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro also had a hand in rewriting the script until they had the film as they wanted. Opening sequence has La Motta (Robert De Niro) practicing his 1960s night-club act, and over the hill and in girth( Reportedly the production was shut down so that De Niro could gain 50-plus pounds) Then the film flashes back to 1940s New York, when Jake’s career was on the rise.
The film stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta who won deservedly Oscar for his acting. Jack is shown as a temperamental and paranoid but tenacious boxer (a lifesaver considering all those pent up  bile and stress) alienates himself from his friends and family. Also featured in the film are Joe Pesci as Joey, La Motta’s brother and manager, and Cathy Moriarty as his abused wife. The film features supporting roles from Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, and Frank Vincent, who has starred in many films directed by Martin Scorsese. After receiving mixed initial reviews, it went on to garner a high critical reputation and is now widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, along with the pair’s other famed collaboration from that era, Taxi Driver (1976).
The film won eight Oscar nominations but won only two: Robert De Niro (acting) and Thelma Schoonmaker(editing).  Award for Best Picture went in favor of Robert Redford and Ordinary People. Raging Bull has often been cited as the best American film of the 1980s.
Directed by     Martin Scorsese
Produced by     Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by     Paul Schrader
Mardik Martin
Starring     Robert De Niro
Joe Pesci
Cathy Moriarty
Cinematography     Michael Chapman
Editing by     Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributed by     United Artists
Release date(s)     14 November 1980 (US)
19 February 1981 (UK)
Running time     129 minutes
Country     United States
Language     English
Budget     $18,000,000 (est.)
Similar Movies
Champion  (1949, Mark Robson)
Requiem for a Heavyweight  (1956, Alvin Rakoff)
The Set-Up  (1949, Robert Wise)
Requiem for a Heavyweight  (1962, Ralph Nelson)
Pugili  (1995, Lino Capolicchio)
Cobb  (1994, Ron Shelton)
Dempsey  (1983, Gus Trikonis)
The Prizefighter and the Lady  (1933, W.S. Van Dyke)
Rocky V  (1990, John G. Avildsen)
Somebody Up There Likes Me  (1956, Robert Wise)
Movies with the Same Personnel
New York, New York  (1977, Martin Scorsese)
Mean Streets  (1973, Martin Scorsese)
The King of Comedy  (1983, Martin Scorsese)
GoodFellas  (1990, Martin Scorsese)
‘Round Midnight  (1986, Bertrand Tavernier)
Who’s That Knocking at My Door?  (1968, Martin Scorsese)
New York Stories  (1989, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese)
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies  (1995, Martin Scorsese, Michael Henry Wilson)
Other Related Movies
is featured in:      A Decade Under the Influence  (2003, Ted Demme, Richard LaGravenese)
is related to:      Taxi Driver  (1976, Martin Scorsese)
Body and Soul  (1947, Robert Rossen)
Fat City  (1972, John Huston)
The Great White Hope  (1970, Martin Ritt)
The Harder They Fall  (1956, Mark Robson)
Mean Streets  (1973, Martin Scorsese)
On the Waterfront  (1954, Elia Kazan)
Cape Fear  (1991, Martin Scorsese)
Confessions of Tom Harris  (1969, John Derek, David Nelson)
The King of Comedy  (1983, Martin Scorsese)
New York, New York  (1977, Martin Scorsese)
Night and the City  (1992, Irwin Winkler)
The Great John L.  (1945, Frank Tuttle)
On the Ropes  (1999, Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen)
( wikipedia, Allmovie.com)
* Robert De Niro read the autobiography of Jake LaMotta while filming The Godfather: Part II (1974) in 1974 and immediately saw the potential for a film to make with his collaborator, Martin Scorsese. It took over four years for De Niro to convince everyone, including Scorsese, to get on board for this film.

* Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci are really punching each other in the famous “hit me” scene.

* To achieve the feeling of brotherhood between the two lead actors, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci actually lived and trained with each other for some time before filming began. Ever since then, the two have been very close friends.

* Sound effects for punches landing were made by squashing melons and tomatoes. Sound effects for camera flashes going off were sounds of gunshots. The original tapes were deliberately destroyed by the sound technicians, to prevent then being used again.

* The scene by the chain link fence where Jake meets his girlfriend was ad-libbed.

* Robert De Niro accidentally broke Joe Pesci’s rib in a sparring scene. This shot appears in the film: De Niro hits Pesci in the side, Pesci groans, and there is a quick cut to another angle. See also Casino (1995).

* Jake (Robert De Niro) asks Joey (Joe Pesci) “Did you f*** my wife?”. Director Martin Scorsese didn’t think that Pesci’s reaction was strong enough, so he asked De Niro to say “Did you f*** your mother?”. Scorsese also did not tell Pesci that the script called for him to be attacked.

* To visually achieve Jake’s growing desperation and diminishing stature, Martin Scorsese shot the later boxing scenes in a larger ring.

* Robert De Niro gained a record 60 pounds to play the older ‘Jake La Motta’, and Joe Pesci lost weight for the same scene (De Niro’s movie weight-gain record was subsequently broken by ‘Vincent D’Onofrio (I)’, who gained 70 pounds for his role as Pvt. Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket (1987)).

* Director Cameo: [Martin Scorsese] asking Jake to go on stage.

* In preparation for his role, Robert De Niro went through extensive physical training, then entered in three genuine Brooklyn boxing matches and won two of them.

* To show up better on black-and-white film, Hershey’s chocolate was used for blood.

* The original script was vetoed by producer Stephen Bach after he told Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro that Jake LaMotta was “a cockroach”. De Niro and Scorsese took a few weeks in Italy to do an uncredited rewrite of the script, during which time the two found some sympathetic aspects of La Motta, which eventually satisfied the producers.

* According to Martin Scorsese, the script took only two weeks to write on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean.

* Was voted the third greatest sports movie of all time after Rocky (1976) and Bull Durham (1988) by ESPN.

* Although only a few minutes of boxing appear in the movie, they were so precisely choreographed that they took six weeks to film.

* Joe Pesci, at the time a frustrated, struggling actor, had to be persuaded to make the film rather than return to the musical act he shared with fellow actor Frank Vincent.

* Martin Scorsese’s father Charles Scorsese is one of the mob wiseguys crowding the LaMotta brothers at a Copa nightclub table.

* While preparing to play Jake LaMotta, Robert De Niro actually met with La Motta and became very well acquainted with him. They spent the entire shoot together so De Niro could portray his character accurately. La Motta said that De Niro has the ability to be a contender, and that he would have been happy to be his manager and trainer.

* Actor John Turturro makes his film debut as the man at table at Webster Hall. Both Turturro and Robert De Niro have played characters named Billy Sunday. De Niro as Master Chief Leslie W. ‘Billy’ Sunday in Men of Honor (2000), and Turturro as Coach Billy Sunday in He Got Game (1998).

* Beverly D’Angelo auditioned for the role of Jake’s wife, Vicki LaMotta. She also auditioned for the role of Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) at around the same time. Martin Scorsese chose Cathy Moriarty (whom the producers saw before D’Angelo), freeing D’Angelo to appear in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

* The role of Jake’s wife was the last to be cast.

* Sharon Stone also auditioned for the role of Vicki LaMotta.

* Martin Scorsese claims that nothing should be read into his using the On the Waterfront (1954) quote. Jake LaMotta, in his declining years, used to appear on stage reciting dialogue from television plays and even reading William Shakespeare. According to Scorsese, he’d planned to use something from “Richard III” (because in the corresponding real-life event LaMotta used it), but director Michael Powell suggested that “Richard III” wouldn’t work in the context of the film because the film in general and LaMotta in particular are inherently American. Scorsese picked the lines from “On the Waterfront”.

* Some scenes and phrases are from On the Waterfront (1954) because Jake LaMotta admired Marlon Brando’s character and used to quote the movie in real life.

* Martin Scorsese was worried about the On the Waterfront (1954) recitation because he knew he’d be inviting critical comparison between the scene in this film and the original film’s scene. Robert De Niro read it in various ways. Scorsese chose the take in which the recitation is extremely flat specifically to mute the comparison, and to suggest that it is simply a recitation and not indicative of how Jake LaMotta felt about his brother.

* No original music was composed for the film. All of the music was taken from the works of an Italian composer named Pietro Mascagni. Martin Scorsese selected it because it had a quality of sadness to it that he felt fit the mood of the film.

* The biblical quote at the end of the film (“All that I know is that I was blind, and now I can see”) was a reference to Martin Scorsese’s film professor, to whom the film was dedicated. The man died just before the film was released. Scorsese credits his teacher with helping him “to see”.

* The home movie sequences were in color to make them stand out from the rest of the film. Another reason was the feeling of reality, because at the particular time represented by the home movies, 8mm color home movie cameras were very popular.

* The rooftop wedding scene was directed by Martin Scorsese’s father after he fell ill while filming.

* In 1978, when Martin Scorsese was at an all-time low due to a near overdose resulting from an addiction to cocaine, Robert De Niro visited him at the hospital and told him that he had to clean himself up and make this movie about a boxer. At first, Scorsese refused (he didn’t like sports movies anyway), but due to De Niro’s persistence, he eventually gave in. Many claim (including Scorsese) that De Niro saved Scorsese’s life by getting him back into work.

* Was voted the 5th Greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

* When the real Jake LaMotta saw the movie, he said it made him realize for the first time what a terrible person he had been. He asked the real Vicki “Was I really like that?”. Vicki replied “You were worse.”

* Martin Scorsese had trouble figuring out how he would cut together the scene when La Motta last fights Robinson (in particular when he is up against the ropes getting beaten). He used the original shot-list from the shower sequence in Psycho (1960) to help him figure it out. Scorsese later commented that it helped most in that the scene was the most horrific to him.

* According to Martin Scorsese in the “Raging Bull” DVD, this was going to be one of eight boxing movies to come out in 1980.

* Martin Scorsese shunned the idea of filming the boxing scenes with multiple cameras. Instead, he planned months of carefully choreographed movements with one camera. He wanted the single camera to be like “a third fighter”.

* Robert De Niro’s performance as Jake LaMotta is ranked #10 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

* Neither Director of Photography Michael Chapman nor Martin Scorsese could get the right look for the amateur LaMotta home movies that comprise the only color sequences in “Raging Bull”. Both men gave in to their natural instincts for camera placement and framing, which was the antithesis of what they wanted to achieve. They solved the problem by asking Teamsters working on the set to handle the camera in order to give the 16mm film the appropriate feel of amateur home movies.

* Jake LaMotta’s autobiography, co-written with friend ‘Peter Savage’, omitted mention of his brother, as did Mardik Martin’s original screenplay. Unhappy with the result, the producers hired Paul Schrader to restructure it, and in the course of doing research on La Motta, the writer came across an article on the relationship between Jake and his brother Joey LaMotta. Schrader incorporated the relationship into the revised screenplay, co-opting the Savage character and creating a composite of the two men in the person of Joey La Motta. That relationship became the central plot theme in the revised screenplay and one of the primary reasons for the film’s success.

* Frank Vincent also plays a character named Batts in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990).

* According to Martin Scorsese on the DVD, when first screening some test 8mm footage of Robert De Niro sparring in a ring, he felt that something was off about the image. Michael Powell, who at that time had become something of a mentor and good friend to Scorsese, suggested that it was the color of the gloves that was throwing them off. Realizing this was true, Scorsese then decided the movie had to be filmed in black and white.

* The f-word  is used 114 times in this film.

* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #4 Greatest Movie of All Time.

* Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sports” in June 2008.

* Was voted the 4th best film of all time in AFI’s 10th anniversary of the 100 Years… 100 Movies series.

* ‘Nicholas Colasonto”s character, Tommy Como, is based on the real-life mobster Frankie Carbo, who basically ran all boxing in New York City during the 1940s and ’50s. He eventually was sent to prison for conspiracy and extortion after being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy.

* Cathy Moriarty’s film debut.(imdb)

check out films cinebuff.wordpress.com


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GEORGE CLEMENCEAU (French) (1841  –  1929)

Clemenceau stood for the principles of the French Revolution – authoritarian, democratic, patriotic; he was a 20th Century Jacobin.
The French politician who had the most nicknames (Le Tombeur des Ministères, Le Tigre, Père la Victoire) and fought the most duels, he began his career as a radical deputy and outspoken journalist in continous conflict with catholics, royalists, moderates and Socialists. His greatest moment came in 1917 when P.M. for the second time, elderly and deaf, he still became the symbol and inspiration of the French determination to win the war. In the peace negotiations he tried to get security for France against Germany. Yet was attacked for not being more successful; he was defeated in the Presidential elections of 1920 and retired. He was an independent character:(In 1919 en route for same ceremony, he met Balfour in the lift. Balfour was wearing a top hat and Clemenceau, his battered deer stalker. A puzzled Balfour:”But they told me that I have to wear a silk hat”. Clemenceau replied:”They told me that too”). And a sardonic wit. (Si, seulement je pouvais passer comme Lloyd George parle).

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JUAN DE LA CIERVA (Spanish) (1895  – 1936).

The man who invented the autogyro was born into an artistocratic family at the turn of the century. Brooding over the crash of his first plane, he set out to design an aircraft that would be stall-proof and capable of flying very slowly.
Four years of experiment led to the first successful flight of his so called autogyroan aircraft which freely revolving, unpowered motors in 1923. His earlier machines has shown an alarming tendency to roll over on take off – an effect caused by the rotor blades advancing into the airstream on one side of the plane and moving downstream on the other, which resulted in ‘assymmetric lift’. Cierva’s ingeneous solution to this capsizing problem was to make the rotor blades as flexible so that they could flap and thus naturally balance the lift on the left and right side of the rotor.
In 1927 he invented the ‘drag hinge’, which allowed the blades of the rotor to drag behind a little as they turned, so helping to offload the massive stresses built up in the hub. In all some 500 autogyroes were built, many in Britain, but by the mid-1930’s, the first helicopters – with their fully powered rotors, were taking to the air with rotors and components developed by Cierva’s ‘Spanish windmill’. His machines were the flying testbeds for todays helicopters.

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A Spartan of Ancient Greece did not fight merely for himself. But also for others. His Spartan living began from the day he was born and his whole life was spent in service of the city-state. What moral sense one can hold without giving the individual his due?
A nation may hold me under its obligation this much and no further. It may be the most enlightened and noble. Even so I must never sell myself to its bondage.
Coming back to Sparta, the city-state with its scant regard for individual liberty did a terrible mistake. There was no dissenting voice to make it take a warning or reexamine its perilous path. The state that let the weak and sickly to perish and admitted only fighting men, and women to give birth to more of the same could not have known democracy; The Spartans never learnt to govern by consent but instead spent their lives to fight wars. It earned them victory and slaves. They thrived on slave labor on a massive scale that was a pointer to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

I do count in the scheme of things: on the anvil of time human society is hammered by time and I may not escape the hard blows and shape may be changed, drawn or made into some ingot. These are outward forms of my destiny as to be part of the whole but there is still me as part of it all. I may have been tested by fire or dipped in cold water of chance. I still count. Since I have imparted something of my own to the whole lump I shall be present in whatever society may finally end up. Should I care as to what shape? Not exactly. Had I while there was time and power to understand my place in the scheme of things and could rise above my limits I have reinvented myself. If once it stands to reason there shall be many more such changes.


To reinvent and to hold my own is the excellent goal I have set for myself. For what purpose? My answer is simple: I please myself. What would the world care if I rose like a phoenix above every circumstance? The world seeks its own pleasures to understand the values I have set for my own world or motives. Strangely enough every change that you and I make alters the existing status quo. It matter not in the least whether it is noticed by others or not.  If not for that there would not be such a thing as progress. In the stone age a flint must have been the state of the art. But iron age made it outdated and inadequate. It is thus human society is made up where human excellence is never lost. like the proverbial leaven any one may affect the whole. Sparta or Rome or any other may be breached by any individual who has not compromised to ride the coattails of others.  I consider any such compromise is suicidal.


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MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO (Roman)  (106  –  43 B.C.)
Statesman, Scholar, Lawyer, Writer.

He was a staunch upholder of republican principles during the civil war that destroyed the Roman republic, is remembered as Rome’s greatest orator. After studies in Greece and Rome, Cicero firmly established a reputation at the bar by 80 or 79. Actively involved in politics after 66 he was elected consul in 63, the highlight of his year in office being his exposure of the Catiline conspiracy. He was inimical to the triumvirate of Ceasar, Pompei and Crassus. He fled from Rome in 59 and was declared an exile but he was recalled in 58. He then aligned with the triumvirate. He was governor of Cilicia in Asia Minor in 51. Though disliking Ceasar’s dictatorship he was not involved in the conspiracy of 44 to murder him. Violently opposed to Mark Antony’s control after Ceasar’s death, he delivered in 44 – 43 the 14 brilliant philippics, orations against Anthony. Besides he, in order to spite the cause of Anthony, favored Octavian, who was slowly amassing power into his hands; In an act of expediency Augustus joined forces with his rival Antony and Lepidus – a triumvirate, the creation of which was beyond the control of the elder statesman.
The outcome of their triumvirate spelt death warrant for Cicero. He was betrayed and caught at Caieta and put to death.
Even as a child he won fame among his school fellows and Masters alike for his excellent wit and quick capacity to learn. It is said that the fathers of other boys used to come to school to see the boy who carried such an excellent report.
He left for Rhodes to study Rhetoric under Appolonius. His tutor who was not so proficient in latin tongue, wanted Cicero to declaim certain passages in Greek. He took up the task hoping thereby his faults,if any, would be corrected. His tutor kept a deadpan expression throughout to observe in the end,”As for me Cicero I not only praise thee but more than that I wonder at thee: and yet I am sorry for Greece to see that learning and eloquence( which were the only two gifts and honor left to us)are by thee carried unto the Romans”.
When he got into active politics he took the trouble of knowing the names of citizens with whom he came into contact as well as those who were influential.
He was very vain and loved to hear his own praise. After a long absence from Rome when he returned to the city he asked his friend what the Romans said of him. His friend asked,”You mean you have been away?”
It made him shut up.

Cicero was the best orator of his time. He made his name in one of the darkest periods of Rome. Sylla the dictator had decreed the sale of goods that belonged to one who was murdered with his consent. While the crier had the goods sold off at rock-bottom price to a favorite of the dictator a freed bondman, the slain man’s son protested. Sylla fearing that it will bring charge against himself for fraud had the son arrested: on trumped up charge  of parricide. No one but Cicero dared to take up the case for the innocent man. His pleading was brilliant and effective too. He won the case.

While pleading on behalf of the Sicilians against Verres( which means a boar) who sent to the orator one who was suspected of being a Jew. Cicero refused his representations thus:’What has a Jew to do with a swine?”
When asked which of the Demosthenes orations he liked best Cicero replied thus: the longest.( Plutarch’s Lives- Thomas North’s version. )

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