Taxi Driver (1976)
August 20, 2022 7:01 AM - Subscribe

Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a NYC cabbie, haunting the streets nightly, growing increasingly detached from reality as he dreams of cleaning up the filthy city. When Travis meets campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he becomes obsessed with the idea of saving the world, first plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate, then directing his attentions toward rescuing 12-year-old prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster).

Also starring Harvey Keitel and Peter Boyle.

Written by Paul Schrader. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Netflix. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Jodie Foster’s sister Connie was her body double.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:50 AM on August 20


I'm not even sure how to begin talking about this movie; Travis Bickle isn't exactly the prototype of the disturbed and disturbing loner who turns into a mass murderer--that would be Charles Whitman--but he served as an example of this type of character in popular media, for future characters (Watchmen's Rorschach, whose opening journal entry is based both on Bickle's opening monologue and another real mass murderer, Son of Sam; the recent version of the Joker leans heavily on this movie and Scorsese's The King of Comedy) as well as for real-life would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., who, incidentally, is now free and on Twitter. The pimp-and-prostitute-populated version of Times Square featured in this movie has been non-existent, thanks to the "Disneyfication" of that area, for longer than it existed, at least since this movie came out, but I think that people still come to NYC expecting to see it; there's a certain segment of people who want it to be true, both in flyover country (some parts of which are considerably more crime-ridden than NYC or most big cities, on the average) and even in the Big Apple itself, among nostalgic long-term residents who insist that it was more dangerous, sure, but also less boring. Also made De Niro and Foster's reputations.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:19 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Taxi Driver has one of the best shots in any movie I have ever seen. When Travis is on the phone with Betsy, pleading for a date, the camera slowly pans right until Travis is out of the frame. It was almost like I was looking away because I couldn't bear to watch something so pathetic.
posted by Stuka at 2:13 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Echoing HJ’s sentiment about not knowing how to talk about this movie anymore. And I wrote essays about it in college! The way the culture has commodified and normalized Travis Bickle as some sort of loner anti-hero is deeply disturbing. I hate that it basically got remade as a Joker movie.

Everybody involved in the making of Taxi Driver was working at the top of their game and just making themselves legends the whole time. Scorsese’s direction is stylish and moody without getting in the way. De Niro’s performance is absolutely mastery. Bernard Herrmann’s final(?) score!
posted by wabbittwax at 6:57 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


The pimp-and-prostitute-populated version of Times Square featured in this movie has been non-existent, thanks to the "Disneyfication" of that area, for longer than it existed, at least since this movie came out, but I think that people still come to NYC expecting to see it; there's a certain segment of people who want it to be true, both in flyover country (some parts of which are considerably more crime-ridden than NYC or most big cities, on the average) and even in the Big Apple itself, among nostalgic long-term residents who insist that it was more dangerous, sure, but also less boring.

I remember reading an NYC location scout talking about how they'd get directors coming into town and saying "take me to the REAL New York!" and when prodded would say "you know, from Taxi Driver and The Warriors!" and they'd have to explain that that New York was an exaggerated picture of a version of the city that hadn't existed in twenty years.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


"During preproduction, I headed uptown, just talking to people on the street, looking for the great white pimp, and in the middle of it all I ended up at a working girl’s bar and struck up this conversation with this girl [Garth Avery] who was kind of strung out and very, very thin. Very close to this character that I wrote. I asked her to come back to the hotel — we were staying at the St. Regis because it was cheap — and told her I’d pay her, but it was not about sex. Around 7 o’clock in the morning, I slipped a note under Marty’s door that said, “I’m going downstairs to have breakfast with Iris. You must join us.” We watched her pour sugar on top of her jam, the way she talked, and a lot of that is in the diner scene in the movie."

Taxi Driver: The Oral History
posted by hoodrich at 3:15 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Thanks for reminding me of Taxi Driver. I'm going to rewatch it.
I loved the movie Joker. And I want to see one of the main inspirations again.
posted by jouke at 6:52 AM on August 23


In the middle of re-watching for the Nth time.

Travis hitting on the woman working the concession stand in the porno theater. Dear god, has there ever been a more awful attempt at flirting. Oh yeah, when he takes Betsy to the porn theater.

Cherry-cheeked Cybill Shepherd is so goddamn adorable.

I can't stop giggling about how much Albert Brooks looks like a young George Costanza.

Watching Travis give his spiel to Betsy in the coffee shop this time, it seems so clear that he's rehearsed it. He's just hollow, like an alien imitating human emotion.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:56 PM on August 24


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