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Taxi Driver [1976 film]

by Martin Scorsese (Director), Paul Schrader (Screenwriter)

Other authors: Peter Boyle (Actor), Albert Brooks (Actor), Michael Chapman (Director of photography), Robert De Niro (Actor), Jodie Foster (Actress)8 more, Phillip Goldfarb (Producer), Leonard Harris (Actor), Bernard Herrmann (Composer), Harvey Keitel (Actor), Julia Phillips (Producer), Michael Phillips (Producer), Thelma Schoonmaker (Film editor), Cybill Shepherd (Actress)

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298675,676 (4.21)5
A New York cab driver is driven to obsession when he attempts to save a teenage prostitute and embarks on a violent rampage against a world of filth and corruption.

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Showing 3 of 3
Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro – Travis Bickle

Jodie Foster – Iris
Cybill Shepherd – Betsy
Harvey Keitel – Sport

Screenplay by Paul Schrader.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2009. Colour. 109 min. 1.85:1 (16:9 Widescreen). Bonus: making-of documentary (71 min), original screenplay.


Travis Bickle is a taxi driver. He is also a loner, an idealist, an insomniac, a psychologist, a visionary, a Vietnam vet, a madman and a dreamer. He dreams of a world in which people will talk and listen to each other instead of being cold, distant and self-absorbed. He dreams of a world in which pretty blondes, when their dates take them to a porn cinema, will try to help the troubled guy instead of running away. He dreams of a world in which the rain will flush all the scum and all the trash down the toilet of non-existence. He dreams of a world in which he won't have to clean the come and the blood from the back seat every night. He dreams of a world in which twelve-year-old girls won't be on the streets, scantily dressed and advertised by long-haired pimps with phrases like "you never had no pussy like that". All men dream, but not equally, T. E. Lawrence famously said. The night dreamers are harmless in the morning, he continued, but the day dreamers are dangerous people for they may act on their dreams. Travis Bickle does act in all sorts of noble and naive ways, going all the way from loneliness and disillusionment to aggression and insanity. In the end, he does make a difference, a small one to the world, a big one to himself. More than forty years later, Travis Bickle's taxi still offers the best ride through the sinister streets of New York, as does his mind through the darkest corners of human nature. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Sep 27, 2017 |
A NY cabbie is creepy.

Emotionally distant, but fascinating. After having seen it a few times, the fascination is wearing off, though.

Concept: A
Story: B
Characters: A
Dialog: A
Pacing: B
Cinematography: A
Special effects/design: A
Acting: B
Music: A

Enjoyment: B

GPA: 3.6/4 ( )
  comfypants | Jan 29, 2016 |
original theatrical trailer

Few movies I can think of evoke in me the literally jaw-dropping visceral reactions of Taxi Driver. Note I'm not being euphemistic, full of hyperbole, when I say "jaw dropping", for "jaw dropping" is an apropos description of my jaw's musculature's seemingly autonomic movements witnessing cringe-inducing-scene after cringe-inducing-scene throughout this disturbing (though delightfully disturbing, if you're in to being disturbed), dark film.

Wouldn't you cringe watching a handsome twenty-something man (Travis Bickle, played by a boyish, circa 1975 Robert De Niro in one of his most breathtaking performances) take a beautiful twenty-something woman (the gorgeous, Cybil Shepherd) on their first date to a ... to a dirty movie? Porn? On a first date? A triple-X (XXX) feature film? Shouldn't a couple be a couple already before being comfortable enough watching porn together? Maybe it's me. Is this guy, Travis, for real? If he is, his date, by now, has got to be thinking, 'Ewww,' and feeling the creepy-crawlies up and down her limbs.

And wouldn't you cringe even more when he's confronted about his poor choice of venue for a first date by his understandably insulted date: "Bringing me here," she protests, out on the sidewalk, having walked out of the theater in disgust, chased by De Niro, "is about as romantic as saying, 'let's fuck'!," and yet somehow remains mystified (Travis) as to how taking his date to a dirty movie for their first date could be construed as outrageously inappropriate? He doesn't get it. He's clueless, out of touch. And then how hard must it be for Travis, how angry must it make him feel, watching his date, the most beautiful he's ever seen before, get a ride home in somebody else's taxi cab?

"But I see lots of couples go to these movies," he'd vainly (and lamely) countered. Wouldn't your jaw drop seeing that? When you realize that this was no sick joke, but that Travis believed the the way into date's heart, and the best way to impress her on their first date together, was with pornography?

Travis Bickle, porn aficionado, anti-hero and progressively psychologically decompensating narrator of Taxi Driver, perversely personalizes the shattered American Dream of the 1970s broken by, among other things, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Nixon, oil shortages, a dream turned disillusion in desperate need of redemption. We don't know the horrors Travis experienced in Vietnam, but when he interviews for a cab driver position, we know he's unwilling to talk about it. Taxi Driver is as much if not more so concerned, albeit covertly, through the character study of Travis Bickle, with exploring the moral chaos and insanity brought home by Vietnam and Tricky Dick than similarly, though overtly intentioned, Vietnam classics like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket.

From the lonely shell of his cab's cramped confines, Travis sees his enemies everywhere as if they were indeed camouflaged Viet Cong in the jungle: "Spooks", "gooks", cops, "faggots," hookers, cross-dressers, fuddy-duddy political campaigners (should mention here that Albert Brooks plays one such fuddy-duddy to perfection) as well as pimps, politicians, hustlers, thugs, pickpockets strutting down New York streets. He glares out his cab's windows upon sweltering neon-lit streets of a New York City about to boil over and explode (or so he his raging paranoia perceives) with race riots, flagrant exploitation, and infestations of crime, and he wishes, in an interior monologue that cuts to a montage of gritty street scenes, for "a fucking rain that will come and wash all this scum and shit off these fucking streets."

Multiple shots of steam and exhaust escaping out of manhole-covers, accentuate the NYC-as-Inferno motif. And consider his name, as the screenwriter, Paul Schafer, has pointed out, Travis (from "Traveler"), and Bickle (from "Bicker") -- a "bickering traveler," that probably describes New York cabbys to a T -- who will momentarily go off the deep end when his volatile contempt and violent-streak get sparked by one too many rejections, and he decides to take it out on somebody, a politician named Palatine, though to Bickle he may as well be Pol Pot, in what's left of his now psychotic, post-traumatic-stress-disordered mind.

Enter Bickle's potential redeemer, a prepubescent prostitute played by Jodie Foster. And what the hell, exactly, was Jodie Foster's mother thinking letting her twelve-year old daughter take such a seedy role, surrounded by so much sleaze? I don't know, though thank God she did! Because Jodie steals every scene she's in, be it slow dancing with her creepy hippie-hairdo'd pimp (Harvey Keitel) in his dimly lit, dreary apartment, or breakfasting with Bickle, pouring mounds of sugar on her toast and jam like a jonesing junky.

During several scenes with Jodie's character and Bickle, the cringe factor goes off the charts (i.e., the scene where Bickle fights off the Lolita-ish nymph intent on unbuttoning his trousers, her mouth uncomfortably close to his crotch), though Bickle, to his credit (and to her confused incredulity) isn't interested in exploiting the girl, he just wants to talk -- is particularly hard to watch. Her fingertips plunge determinedly toward the close-up shots of his pant buttons and belt buckle, but he thwarts them away repeatedly, finally convincing her that the time he's bought with her is indeed time bought only for conversation -- a frank dialogue aimed at motivating her to runaway from her abusive pimp. He asks the obvious question, a simple question imbued with compassion and concern, which strangely, despite his own twisted litany of hypocritical depravities already documented in the film, still manages to endear the viewer to him.

"Shouldn't a girl your age be in school?" Bickle chides her. So maybe there's still hope for Bickle after all. Maybe there's a good heart left inside him, barely surviving like a prisoner-of-war.

I won't reveal whether Travis Bickle successfully rescues the pre-teen prostitute. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprising cinematic experience, in case you'd choose against your better judgment and watch this hard-to-watch film. Do know by the movie's bloody conclusion, Travis Bickle's story -- is he savior? pariah? madman? -- has made the local headlines. ( )
5 vote absurdeist | Sep 20, 2008 |
Showing 3 of 3
Robert De Niro is in almost every frame of Martin Scorsese’s feverish, horrifyingly funny movie about a lonely New York cab-driver. De Niro’s inflamed, brimming eyes are the focal point of the compositions. He’s Travis Bickle, an outsider who can’t find any point of entry into human society. He drives nights because he can’t sleep anyway; surrounded by the night world of the uprooted—whores, pimps, transients—he hates New York with a Biblical fury, and its filth and smut obsess him. This ferociously powerful film is like a raw, tabloid version of Notes from Underground. Scorsese achieves the quality of trance in some scenes, and the whole movie has a sense of vertigo. The cinematographer, Michael Chapman, gives the street life a seamy, rich pulpiness.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New Yorker, Pauline Kael

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scorsese, MartinDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schrader, PaulScreenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyle, PeterActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, AlbertActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chapman, MichaelDirector of photographysecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Niro, RobertActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foster, JodieActresssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldfarb, PhillipProducersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, LeonardActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herrmann, BernardComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keitel, HarveyActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, JuliaProducersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, MichaelProducersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schoonmaker, ThelmaFilm editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shepherd, CybillActresssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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'The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.'
Thomas Wolfe, God's Lonely Man
First words
TRAVIS BICKLE, aged twenty-six, lean, hard, the consummate loner.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A New York cab driver is driven to obsession when he attempts to save a teenage prostitute and embarks on a violent rampage against a world of filth and corruption.

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