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Taxi Driver

FreakyFriday

 

Taxi Driver (1976) 

Taxi Driver Poster

 

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Paul Schrader
Starring: Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster
How I watched It: iTunes Rental
Review By: Griff

 

It’s the early 1970’s and Paul Schrader is down on his luck. He is a young film critic and aspiring screen writer and things have gotten really bad for him. He is recently divorced and the woman that he left his wife for has broken up with him. He has no place to live and is sleeping in his car or squatting at his ex-girlfriends apartment since she is out of town. Depressed, he develops and unhealthy obsession with guns and pornography. He feels alone and isolated from everyone. Finally, desperate for a way to express himself he decides to write a script about a taxi driver. He sees the a taxi driver as a perfect metaphor for a man who lives in the city but outside of it at the same time.

Brian De Palma gets the script and he plans on making the movie with Jeff Bridges in the lead. Things don’t work out and De Palma suggests to his friend Martin Scorsese that he should direct the movie. Scorsese want to make the movie with Robert De Niro in the lead but the producers don’t want to give Scorsese the reigns since he hasn’t directed anything of note. For a while it doesn’t look like the project is going to get off the ground but then two things happen. First Scorsese directs Mean Streets proving that he is an adept director and then De Niro lands the oscar for his role in The Godfather Part II. Now the project gets the green light and one of the best American movies ever made was born.

Taxi Driver Still

Taxi Driver is the story of Travis Bickle an insomniac loner who takes a job driving a taxi on the night shift in New York City. Travis has no friends and feels isolated and ostracized by everyone around him. As time goes by Travis becomes more and more unstable. He attempts to start a relationship with Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a young campaign worker but he sabotages his chances by taking her to porn movie on their first date. This is the last straw for Travis. He slips deeper into depression and becomes increasingly more paranoid. He buys a collection of guns and starts going to the firing range. Eventually he comes up with a plan. He is going to assassinate the Senator that Betsy was working on the campaign for. Travis shows up at a rally ready to proceed with his plan but the secret service catch onto him and Travis is forced to run away. Travis now focuses on a new idea. He meets a young prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster) and decides that he needs to save her from the life that she is leading. Unfortunately Iris is being controlled by a pimp named Sport who is not going to just let her walk away. Travis decides the only thing to do is take out Sport. What follows is one of the most memorable shootouts in cinema history.

Taxi Driver Still 2

I am not even going to begin to try and critique Taxi Driver. It has been done many times before by a ton of people with a lot more insight than me. What I will say is that this is some of Scorsese’s best work. At the time, Scorsese was part of an emerging group of directors like Spielberg and Lucas who were challening the status quo. They were all students of cinema who had studied the movies being made in Europe and were influenced by the French New Wave and the movies made by Godard. Scorsese was in full swing at the time. He was trying out new techniques and at the same time paying homage to the film makers that he admired. Although a lot of what you see may seem common place by todays standards, the movie was riddled with interesting shots and angles that just were not being done at the time. It is a master work and if for some reason you haven’t seen it, you should watch it as soon as you can. If you have seen it, it is worth watching again. Taxi Driver gets 3 guys from me.

3guys copy

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • scottydynamite March 22, 2013, 4:20 pm

    This one sits in my top 5 and is a great watch for those who have not seen it, a must for movie fans.

  • ckckred March 22, 2013, 4:30 pm

    Great review. Taxi Driver’s in my own personal top 3 and is my favorite Martin Scorsese movie. No one made better movies about New York City than Scorsese.

    • Griff March 24, 2013, 9:49 am

      Thanks for stopping by ckckred! I have to say it was pleasure to get to re-watch this to do my review. I went and ordered the blu ray right after I watched it.

  • Mark Walker March 23, 2013, 7:43 am

    Dare I say that I find Taxi Driver to be slightly overrated? It’s a good film, dont get wrong, but I don’t seem to share the enthusiasm as most. That being said, it’s been a long long time since I seen an my opinion may change when I watch it again.

    • Griff March 24, 2013, 9:51 am

      Hey Mark, Thanks for the comment! Give it it another try sometime, our perception of things change with time. I recommend spending the 14 bucks or so on the blu ray. There are a ton of great extras on there that really give a lot of great insight into this movie.

  • Adam March 23, 2013, 8:48 am

    That is the same plan I used when I first went out on a date with my future misses. Travis Bickle dating tips 101.

    • Griff March 24, 2013, 9:46 am

      Why doesn’t this surprise me at all? :-D

  • Keith March 23, 2013, 9:39 am

    Fantastic review. This is a true classic. DeNiro is amazing and what Scorsese does behind the camera is genius. Oh and Cybil looked pretty fine I might add!

  • Chris March 23, 2013, 10:17 am

    Scorsese’s best , Robert De Niro’s best. In my opinion. Glad you loved it too! The mohawk moment might just be among the most memorable screen transformations.

    • Griff March 24, 2013, 9:57 am

      Thanks Chris! There are some really interesting things going on with that transformation. I read that Scorcese was huge fan of the John Wayne film the Searchers and model Bickle after him somewhat. You actually see Bickle transform from looking like everyone else in the city to more and more resembling a cowboy. He sports western shirts and cowboy boots. Sport even calls him cowboy at one point in the film. Then later when he decides that violence is his only solution we see him become the mohawk wearing apache warrior. It is very well done!

  • Thomas March 23, 2013, 7:56 pm

    thanks for reminding us to watching this again and again, certainly one of Scorsese’s best and most intensive movies. Apart from all the right things you say, let me add some honourable mentions to:
    - Bernard Herman’s score
    - Robert de Niro’s improvisational skills (“Are you talking to me?” apparently non-scripted)
    - Harvey Keitel’s hairdresser

    • Griff March 24, 2013, 10:03 am

      Thanks Thomas, you are right about the score. It is amazing. It moves from drama to almost horror film like and really keeps you on edge throughout the film. De Niro was truly at the very top of his game during this time. It is one of our greatest actors in his prime. I saw on the documentary that Keitel is actually wearing a wig in this one. Not only that, but the producers didn’t want to pay for the wig because it was too expensive. Keitel had to get Scorsese to talk to the producers to convince them to buy it.

  • Teddy Casimir March 26, 2013, 9:26 pm

    Best Scorsese film. I didn’t expect to love it as much. Great review that encaspsulates everything that is good with the film.

  • Joe March 27, 2013, 5:33 pm

    Awesome review, Mark. I’ve never really known any of the backstory to Taxi Driver especially as far as the Directorial and lead actor dilemma. For some reason the idea of DePalma directing Taxi Driver doesn’t seem so crazy although the idea of Jeff Bridges as Travis Bickle is, eh, a tough one to picture. No doubt a top ten must own flick.

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