Coulda Been A Contender: De Niro's 'Raging Bull' Quote Of Brando In 'Waterfront'

By Emily Morenz
Left: Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando in 'On The Waterfront.' Right: Robert De Niro in 'Raging Bull.' Source: IMDB

"I could've been a contender" was a powerful line when Marlon Brando said it to Rod Steiger in 1954's On The Waterfront; when Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) says it in Raging Bull it takes on a new level of meaning. But what does the line mean -- "coulda been a contender," contender for what? And how is it that one of the great movie lines from the '50s could be recycled in 1980? Here's the story of "I coulda been a contender."