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Taxi Driver
Year:
1976
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
8.5
Director:
Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Jodie Foster as Iris
Harvey Keitel as Sport
Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine
Peter Boyle as Wizard
Diahnne Abbott as Concession Girl
Frank Adu as Angry Black Man
Gino Ardito as Policeman at Rally
Victor Argo as Melio (as Vic Argo)
Garth Avery as Iris' Friend
Harry Cohn as Cabbie in Bellmore
Copper Cunningham as Hooker in Cab
Brenda Dickson as Soap Opera Woman
Harry Fischler as Dispatcher
Storyline: Travis Bickle is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. He's a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy, a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palatine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the savior for Iris, a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Matthew.
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Reviews
Taxi Driver (1976)-A Film With A Fatally Flawed Storyline
I watched Taxi Driver (1976) a couple of years ago & thought that it was a film with a fatally flawed storyline that didn't really deserve the big box office response & all the critical accolades it got.

However, now that I've just viewed Taxi Driver a second time, I must report that I STILL feel that it's a film with a storyline SO flawed that there is JUST NO WAY that I can consider it much more than a mediocre film, at best.

True enough, Taxi Driver is a film with some great qualities. The cinematography is exciting & innovative. The acting of the WHOLE cast is really superior.

However, all the great qualities of this film are for nothing, as far as I'm concerned, because, at least for me, if a film has a story line that is fundamentally flawed, then that just makes the rest of the film pointless. True enough, there plenty of fine films out there with improbable characters &/or improbable storyline elements where through good acting, & good direction they were able to pull off at least a semi-plausible, or semi-believable film. However, there are fatal flaws in the storyline of Taxi Driver that no amount of good acting or good direction would ever be able to overcome.

1) That cabbie Travis would take beautiful, educated, impeccably dressed, upscale campaign executive Betsy to a hard core porn movie on their first date is just STUPID. Look, Travis spent time in the Marines & he has a reputation of being the only cabbie who will take fares even to the roughest parts of NYC without getting into trouble, so he has lots of life experience & lots of "street smarts". Moreover, his social boldness in walking in off the street to talk to upscale Betsy, & his smooth, seductive language when he is wooing her in the campaign office & then again in the coffee shop belies a level of social sophistication that is beyond the narrative of this film. So why is a guy like Travis, who apparently has so much "on the ball" STUPIDLY taking an educated, upscale gal like Betsy to a hard core porn movie on their first date?

2) That Travis begins to get deranged & delusional after Betsy blows him off, & that he buys a number of guns, & starts to systematically stalk candidate Palatine & then, after his assassination attempt fails that he goes to rescue adolescent prostitute Iris, killing several guys in the process is pure BS. Having a BA & a MA in Psychology, I can tell you that mental illness just doesn't work that way. If Travis spent such a long time plotting the assassination of Palatine, then no simple foiled assassination attempt would allow him to focus his obsessiveness elsewhere. In reality, a paranoid borderline psychotic like Travis would just regroup for another attempt to kill the object that he has been stalking for so long, not just "turn on a dime" & choose a new object to kill.

3) That Travis is a deranged guy who has been plotting the murder of a Presidential candidate for a long time, & then starts a caring, empathetic relationship with the kid prostitute Iris is just from outer space. A guy who is as twisted as Travis, who spends 24/7 obsessed with killing a prominent person just doesn't take a "mental health vacation" & goes to express concern to a teenage hooker & has a rational conversation with her. SORRY, but the severe mental illness that Travis was exhibiting after Betsy blew him off just can't be switched on & off that way.

4) That Travis is hailed in the newspapers as a "hero" after he murders 4 bad guys while "rescuing" Iris is just STUPID. a) Replete with his Mohawk haircut, & unconscious to boot when the cops arrived after the big shootout, Travis would've been pegged as a bad guy who was in a shootout with other bad guys, & as a lowly NYC cabbie Good Luck talking your way out that corner. b) Even if the cops & the DA did recognize that Travis was not a bad guy but a misguided vigilante ala Bernard Goetz, chances are good that he'd still end up in prison for murder because not even bona fide cops have the legal authority to have the type of self initiated, unprovoked shoot out with the bad guys that Travis had.

5) That elegant, beautiful, educated, upscale, uptown Betsy actually seeks out the lowly cabbie Travis & makes overtures to him at the end of the film is UNREAL enough in itself but that Travis blew her off & just drove away leaving her standing in the street is just FANTASTIC, UNBELIEVABLE, & the stuff of children's FAIRY TALES not of an adult feature film.

For these reasons, & others, I must conclude that Taxi Driver is an otherwise OK film but with an ill conceived, bush league storyline that is not even worthy of a B-movie, much less international film awards. Obviously, writer Paul Schrader did no research on the complex personality that was the centerpiece of his screenplay.
2015-05-21
Taxi Driver interprets Shakespeare
THE SICILIAN CONNECTION Taxi Driver and The Winter's Tale What follows comes from work in progress on how Scorsese's movie may cast light on Shakespeare's play.

At the end of Pasolini's film of Œdipus Rex the blind king walks out of his world into the streets of modern Bologna. If Leontes, King of the Sicilians,went missing, where would he reappear? The hero of Taxi Driver turns up in modern New York of 1976, as if out of nowhere, or maybe one of his own bad daydreams. He's looking for a job to suit an insomniac. Like the Great Gatsby, Travis Bickle seems to be be born of his vision of himself, and this casts doubt on the substance of both self and vision.

He gets a job driving a yellow cab. Then he falls for Betsy, a girl with class Then he goes out of his way to foul up by taking her to a blue movie. There, his attention is soon distracted from the real woman at his side . Betsy checks out in disgust. Later he calls her on the phone, but you can't tell whether there's really anyone at the other end. So his thoughts turn to 'saving' Iris, a twelve-year-old hooker who has also come out of nowhere, into his cab. Taxi Driver is set firmly in the eponymous mean streets of an earlier Scorsese movie, and before that, of The Godfather, the daddy of them all. Travis now has to kill some bad people, one of them Iris= trick, a Mafioso. Travis has already killed her pimp Matthew, or Sport - almost twice. In the street outside the tenement where she trades he shoots Sport in the belly before going inside to continue his righteous massacre. The pimp reappears in the hallway, alive and armed, and has to be gunned down again, as if to get it right. But Iris is saved, Betsy forgives Travis now that he=s a hero, and Travis survives. Or does he? Do they? Does any of it happen at all? Can such questions be asked of a work of fiction? In Taxi Driver the narrative viewpoint seems clear. The film opens and closes on Travis' brooding eyes. Intermittently he gives a running commentary in voice-over, which turns out to be the journal he keeps. Sometimes the screen shows things that appear to happen independently, without his knowledge. So these events seem to be 'real'. But they decrease in credibility. Travis sits in his taxi outside a building inside which a tender scene takes place between Iris and her pimp. And now Sport says: Come to me, baby, and he puts a record on the phonograph. He tells her: I'd like every man in the world to know what it is to be loved by you. Inadvertent humour can't get much bleaker. But whose joke is this? Travis buys a suitcaseful of artillery. He practises quick draws in the mirror. Sometimes he packs two guns, but he (as distinct from his reflection) is right-handed. Especially with his star weapon, a forty four magnum. In due course he uses it to shoot off some of the fingers of Iris' 'timekeeper'. Strangely, this has earlier and out of his hearing been described as a typical Mob punishment. Then, in reverse shot, we see the gun in Travis' left hand. He goes on to finish killing the pimp, the mobster and the timekeeper. And then himself - a death he has clearly intended or expected - except that now he=s all out of bullets. So he pretends. He points a finger at his own temple. It lets fall a single drop of blood. He gives a death=s head grin. His thumb works an invisible hammer. Bang, I'm dead.

Afterwards he gets police commendations, glowing press reports and grateful notes in what looks like his own handwriting. He loses the scar where a bullet creased him in the neck He grows back his hair, which he'd shaved to a Mohican crest. Finally exalted to a realm above human love and desire, Travis can patronise Betsy, who wistfully seeks him out, but can't get to him now. He's gone through the looking glass. Taxi Driver is perhaps the most chilling representation of psychic death ever to reach a universal audience. The question is: what sort of representation? In a Steinberg cartoon the subject, pencil in hand,is shown completing the picture which is himself. That picture is another of those 'impossible' objects which is possible because there it is. The work of art has become its own creator.

It's been said that a work of art goes about the world independently of its author's power to intend about it. In Taxi Driver it's as if the film itself has decided to dispense with the conventional markers that distinguish between what's 'really' happening and what's inside the hero's mind.

Such a work enacts the idea that all events, including events 'in the real world' are events in the consciousness; may only be events in the consciousness. We create the world, as they say, from moment to moment as we go along. If our dreams are allegories of the way we experience this world, then by extension our waking perception may be the same; except that it has to adjust itself - from moment to moment as we go along.

The movie screen, arena of the 'dream factory', is the obvious place to see this happening. So is the theatre. Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is like a still, a tableau which suddenly comes to life out of a sort of Arcadian trance as in the Book of Genesis; and as in Genesis, with the touch of the serpent's tooth. It shows a man in torment because he's recreated the world as the hell in his own mind. A hell which he has to exorcise in blood. To understand Shakespeare's great work you could do worse than read it through the eyes of Taxi Driver.
2006-03-05
You'll love the mood.. but is the ending worth 2 hours of build up?
A nicely made dark and majestic experience, see the world through the eyes of a weird taxi driver, as his character progresses from a total embarrassment to a mad dog. The movie sends a clear message about society and human ego, and how a man's pride can drift him into insanity.

The mood is nice, a prime example on a classic Noir movie, it builds up and prepares you mentally for the big ending.. an ending that failed to live up to the hype that the movie has built in you.. though it had a short yet exciting action scene the ending is pretty simple and is more about delivering a simple message rather than leaving you amazed or satisfied.

The dark comedy in the movie is pretty clear, it shows you how messed up society really is, the movie was executed flawlessly when it comes to cinematic and production, but it will disappoint you at the very end, the ending was just too "MEH" to bear, especially after an excellent build of events preceding it, such a pity.

I'm sure the movie was a big hit at the time of its release (after the Vietnam war), but I'm not sure it would be enjoyed the same at our current time, so let me put it this way: - If you enjoy a dark Noir mood with nice character development then watch it now. - If you enjoy movies with subliminal messages then add this one to your "watch when I have nothing else to watch" list. - If you're looking for a great story with a nice twist to it, I wouldn't recommend Taxi Driver.
2017-04-17
Profoundly disturbing but brilliant tale of urban isolation, obsession, and rage
Arguably Martin Scorsese's best film, writer Paul Schrader's best screenplay, and actor Robert De Niro's best performance. De Niro plays unstable Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle who the film follows down his rabbit hole of isolation, obsession, and eventual violent rage. The plot, as it is, has Bickle working nights as a NYC cab driver, becoming infatuated with pretty campaign worker, Cybill Shepherd, but when he sours that relationship due to his weird behavior, he becomes obsessed with saving pre-teen hooker Jodie Foster from her slimy pimp, Harvey Keitel. The plot could easily have become a simple Charles Bronson/grindhouse tale of urban vigilantism, but it's much more than that. Much has been written about "Taxi Driver" in terms of urban decay, isolation, desire, sex, misogyny, and as a critique of the media, all by others more eloquent than me, so I won't even try, but I will say that on a visceral level, the film is a ferociously disturbing piece of filmmaking. The audience is slowly drawn closer and closer to Bickle's madness, in a similar way to "Repulsion" or "Peeping Tom.". The audience almost understands and sympathizes with his where his thinking is coming from and are found rooting for him against the even more despicable of characters during the film's disturbing finale. Scorsese has presented a New York City that truly is a brutal urban nightmare, but at the same time has created surreal hallucinatory vision of NYC that may only be Bickle's perception of reality. Also of note, the film features memorable performances by Victor Argo, Peter Boyle, and Albert Brooks. Additionally, this was the final film scored by Bernard Herrmann and he delivers a memorably unrelenting and oppressive score that ranks among his finest. Overall, "Taxi Driver" is one of the finest pieces of cinema ever committed to celluloid, though due to it's profoundly disturbing nature will likely deny the film wide appeal.
2017-10-15
Scorsese's first masterpiece
Taxi Driver is incredible. Every time I watch it I become more and more engrossed with the story and the acting. One of the rare films that grows more enjoyable after every viewing. The film seems to have been done on a small budget but it's perfect for what the script suggests. Robert De Niro in one of his best roles ever earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, one that he should have won. Martin Scorsese did a fine job not only in directing, but also in selecting the perfect cast. Future stars Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel are just two of the many in the amazing supporting cast. Everything in this film is just right, watch it if you haven't already, or even if you have!
2000-12-14
Martin Scorsese's masterpiece.
It's a beautiful and violent story that talk about a lonely man, Travis Bickle,and the city where he lives in.Driving by night, the protagonist meets the strangest people in the world. He hates New York because he think it's a dirty city with bad people. But at the end of the film he saves a 12 years old prostitute and kill her pimps, so he becomes a hero. The story, that is written by Paul Schrader, is full of violence, and bad words but at the same time it is also sad and a bit romantic. Robert De Niro is fantastic and Bernard Herrmann's music is good too. Taxi driver is one of the most beautiful films in the history of the cinema.
2005-01-01
The Most Organ-azized Drama Ever
Taxi Driver is an American drama directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader inspired from 1956 John Ford film 'The Searchers'. The screenplay is crafted so artistically by Paul showcasing a raw, nerve- wrecking and powerful look at depression and solitude. The film has the capability to become an altogether successful venture when the actor-director synergy can make astonishing wonders happen. De Niro and Scorsese happen to be one such example. The collaboration between these two has given us some of the really extravagant films. The movie starts with a Taxi moving in a slow motion as it leaves a foggy smoke behind as credit starts appearing in the cloud of smoke giving a more artistic feel to the beginning of the movie. Travis Bickle an ex-Marine officer suffering from chronic insomnia returns to Manhattan, New York after the Vietnam War. A person having no real life experience in flesh-and-blood human relationships gets alienated in the city of aflame and enthusiastic people. Travis takes up a job as a taxi driver on a night duty travelling around the city watching the night- life and prowlers that rule the streets of NY after nightfall. He is a person who tries to mimic the interactions he sees on the streets and goes horribly wrong, watches dirty movie in a porno theater, falls for a girl working in the Senator Palantine's campaign, takes her for a porn movie making her feel awkward and terribly angry. His small acts highlight his lack of human touch and his unstable mind. The director had pivoted the confused notions of the protagonist successfully as the audience was meant to assume him to be a psycho. Travis in the latter half of the movie, fails in repeated attempts to get his love back and finally makes up his mind to assassinate the Senator only to flaunt his prejudice. After a failed Palantine assassination, Travis freeds himself from frustration as he guns down three men who he holds responsible for corrupting a girl's youth in a brothel to rescue a 12 year old prostitute named Iris in an unsurpassed bloodbath. Scorsese proved himself a creative genius through Taxi driver. Only part remains undisclosed in movie is the reason Iris chose to run away from home only to become a prostitute at an age where she ought to be going to school, giving an uneasy feeling to the viewers. Like all the Scorsese directed films, redemption is the soul of the film. The audience, terrified and overwhelmed by urban crime will readily respond to any film about heroic vigilantism in future. Courtesy: Martin Scorsese. The review title pertaining to a stupidly cracked joke by Travis in the film, the drama is one of the most organized and a soulful drama made in the history of Hollywood.
2013-06-30
Still don't get it?
Just forced myself to watch this film again for the third time thinking maybe I had some Natural Born Killer prejudice against this movie, which I kicked, but after painfully sitting through this thing again for the last time all I can say is I'm tired, depressed, and befuddled at the high praise for this darkly disturbing film. Or maybe that's the alure for some people. If you look at the votes for this thing people either love it or hate it. I'm mostly indifferent. The problem I have with Taxi Driver is that there are too many unanswered questions about Travis' background, experience in the Marine Corp, etc. We know he was discharged while Vietnam was winding down but we don't have a clue what the source of his "instability" is! Are we to assume that he had suffered some sort of trauma during the war...did he ever see any action...was he really discharged because of his instability? In fact, the guy seems perfectly normal other than a slightly obsessive compulsive complex which 70% of society is sporting, and he can't sleep. Awwww, poor thing. Well neither can I, and a lot of people can't sleep at nights. Does that alone make Travis a candidate for the nuthouse? Nope. The truth is, we don't know what his problems stem from and that is a major problem with this movie. His descent is so spontaneous when Betsy reacts about being dragged to an adult film, and he just snaps, we don't know why?!? (spoiler alert) Next thing you know the guy is buying guns like there's no tomorrow to feed his all-of-a-sudden John Wayne complex that springs from a source we can't as an audience connect with. Good performances overall don't salvage the many holes that litter the canvas of this highly overrated drama. And somebody please explain to me all this talk about Travis searching for "redemption", from WHAT>?>? Jeez! The final shootout is a little too reminiscent of the Wild Bunch where spurting blood and bad editing wooed critics all around. Amazing. 6/10
2002-08-21
A difficult film to review...
What can you say about "Taxi Driver" that hasn't been said already? It's phenomenal. I'm not a fan of Scorsese's other directorial efforts, really--nor am I a big DeNiro fan--but everything about this film is absolutely, unquestionably RIGHT. So many people seem to be confused when they watch this movie: they either root for Travis Bickle when he finally loses his marbles, or they feel that "Taxi Driver" tries to justify racism and misogyny. I don't think there's any need to go to such extremes. Yes, there are elements of racism and misogyny here, but the film doesn't promote those attitudes. And as for Travis being the nominal "hero" of the film, I don't believe that this was Paul Schrader's intention, either. There ARE no heroes; ultimately, this is just the very grim story of a marginalized man who loses what little control he had to begin with. This is why "Taxi Driver" appeals to people, I believe, but it's also why the film is routinely misinterpreted. As Schrader has said, this is a film about alienation. "Taxi Driver" tells an interesting, engaging human story and that's what makes it great--not the social commentary, or what's viewed as such.
2004-07-09
We are the Taxi Drivers
We are the taxi drivers. We let people in our hearts and minds. Some turn out to be rotten some inspire us. Either way they affect our thoughts and perceptions.

Robert De Niro's created an unforgettable image of a taxi driver that longs to find the meaning of his life. No matter if it's a well mannered lady, under age prostitute, stranger willing to kill his own wife, or a presidential candidate. All these people come and go to the life of the taxi driver who is willing to change the system no matter what. Although he himself needs a cure he takes a bold step to become the cure for a young innocent child.
2013-08-11
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