Joey La Motta (Joe Pesci): What ?!
Jake La Motta: Did you fuck my wife ?
Joey La Motta: [pauses, looks insulted] How could you ask me a question like that ? How could you ask me ? I’m your brother. You ask me that ? Where do you get your balls big enough to ask me that ?
Jake La Motta: [cooly] Just tell me.
Joey La Motta: I’m not answerin’ ya. I’m not gonna answer that. It’s stupid.
Jake La Motta: You’re very smart Joey. You give me all these answers, but you ain’t givin’ me the right answer. I’m askin’ ya again. Did you or did you not?
Joey La Motta: [frightened but controlled] I’m not gonna answer. That’s a sick question, you’re a sick fuck, and I’m not that sick that I’m gonna answer it. I’m not tellin’ ya anything… I’m gonna leave.
If Lenore calls, tell her I went home. I’m not staying in this nuthouse with you, you’re a sick mess, I feel sorry for ya, I really do. You know what you should do ? Try a little more fuckin’ and a little less eatin’. You won’t have troubles upstairs in your bedroom and you won’t pick it up on me and everybody else.
Do you understand, you fuckin’ wacko? You’re crackin’ up! Fuckin’ screwball, ya ! [walks out the door]
– Raging Bull, (1980).
In voice-over, Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) speaks, as the film cuts to La Motta, alone in his dressing room where he rehearses for his nightclub appearance reciting bits of Shakespearean tragedy, wearing a tuxedo and open shirt. His fantasy of disrobing in the ring presents the film’s recurrent theme of sexual anxiety, violence, fear, and confusion :
I remember those cheers
They still ring in my ears
And for years they’ll remain in my thoughts
Cuz one night I took off my robe
And what’d I do
I forgot to wear shorts.
I recall every fall, every hook, every jab
The worst way a guy could get rid of his flab
As you know, my life was a jab…
Though I’d rather hear you cheer
When I delve into Shakespeare
“A Horse, a Horse, my Kingdom for a Horse,”
I haven’t had a winner in six months (he lights his cigar)…
I know I’m no Olivier
But if he fought Sugar Ray
He would say
That the thing ain’t the ring
It’s the play.
So gimme a stage
Where this bull here can rage
And though I can fight
I’d much rather recite
That’s entertainment !
– From Raging Bull