De Niro: An Amazing Talent that Never Goes to Waste…

Playing catch-up ball with some old New York Times Sunday Magazines that I had stacked up, I came upon an article by their film critic, A.O. Scott on Robert De Niro. It seemed to be timed with the release of “Silver Linings Playbook ,” his latest movie directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter). De Niro has an incredible body of work. According to his IMDB profile, he’s done 95 movies during his career that began in 1965. Of course, it was his work in the 70s that got him on the radar:

  • Mean Streets (1973) Martin Scorsese
  • The Godfather: Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola where he played Vito Corleone
  • Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese

The catchphrase “You talkin’ to me?” came from Taxi Driver.

As Travis Bickle, De Niro is looking at himself in mirror as he imagines a confrontation which would give him a chance to draw his gun. He says the following line:

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the f–k do you think you’re talking to?”

The interview with De Niro brought up a lot of the usual films. It made me think of some that get overlooked. Here are my De Niro Dozen in order of appearance:

  • Mean Streets (1973) Martin Scorsese
  • The Godfather: Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola where he played Vito Corelone
  • Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese
  • Raging Bull (1980) Martin Scorsese
  • Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Sergio Leone
  • The Untouchables (1987) Brian De Palma
  • Midnight Run (1988) Martin Brest
  • Goodfellas (1990) Martin Scorsese
  • Awakenings (1990) Penny Marshall
  • Casino (1995) Martin Scorsese
  • Wag the Dog (1997) Barry Levinson
  • Jackie Brown (1997) Quentin Tarantino


I thought Once Upon a Time in America, the Sergio Leone 229 minute epic where he played David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson, was amazing.

In the early 90s, Goodfellas and Awakenings showed his range well. The latter, based on Oliver Sacks’ research and writing, directed by Penny Marshall and co-starring Robin Williams, was really an intense, heart-felt performance.

He made his directing debut in 1993, “A Bronx Tale,” based on a one-man play by Chazz Palminteri about a father (played by De Niro) who becomes worried when a local gangster befriends his son in the Bronx in the 1960s.


On of my favorite lines is this:

Lorenzo (De Niro): The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.

Yeah, “wasted talent” is not a phrase that would ever be applied to Robert De Niro.

Add some of his films to your Netflix queue and see for yourself!


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