Taxi Driver (1976) Revisit
Original Episode: #14 Taxi Driver (released May 22, 2020)
New Episode: #170 Taxi Driver Revisit (released July 5, 2023)
Martin Scorsese, Director
Paul Schrader, Screenplay
Bernard Herman, Score
Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle
Jodie Foster as Iris Steensma
Cybill Shepherd as Betsy
Harvey Keitel as Matthew "Sport" Higgins
Albert Brooks as Tom
Leonard Harris as Senator Charles Palantine
Peter Boyle as "Wizard"
Steven Prince as "Easy Andy", the Gun Salesman
Martin Scorsese as "Passenger Watching Silhouette"/Man Outside Palantine Headquarters
Joe Spinell as The Personnel Officer
Taxi Driver was released on February 9, 1976.
On a budget of roughly $1.9 million, Taxi Driver would gross $28.6 million overall and would place #15 at the American Box Office for 1976.
Taxi Driver would garner a lot of critical praise at the time, and would go on to be nominated for Best Picture, Actor (DeNiro), Supporting Actress (Foster), and Score (Herman) - posthumously.
Taxi Driver has received honors from the AFI on the following lists:
AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains – #30 Villain – Travis Bickle
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes – #10 – "You talkin' to me?"
AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – #22
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #47
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #52
The Village Voice ranked Taxi Driver at number 33 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list in 1999, based on a poll of critics.
Empire also ranked DeNiro 18th in its "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" poll, and the film ranks at No. 17 on the magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.
Time Out magazine conducted a poll of the 100 greatest movies set in New York City. Taxi Driver topped the list, placing at No. 1. Schrader's screenplay for the film was ranked the 43rd-greatest ever written by the Writers Guild of America.
In 2012, in a Sight & Sound poll, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi selected Taxi Driver as one of his 10 best films of all time. Quentin Tarantino also listed the movie among his 10 greatest films of all time.
National Film Registry – Inducted in 1994
The film was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best films of all time.
In 2015, Taxi Driver ranked 19th on BBC's "100 Greatest American Films" list, voted on by film critics from around the world.
Taxi Driver currently holds a 96% on RT, a 94 score on Metacritic, and a 4.2/5 on Letterboxd.
Plot Summary: "Taxi Driver" is a gritty and haunting exploration of urban alienation and the descent into madness. In the dark underbelly of 1970s New York City, we follow Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a Vietnam War veteran turned insomniac taxi driver. Haunted by his own demons and repulsed by the moral decay around him, Travis becomes a vigilante on a dangerous path to redemption. As he navigates through a city teeming with pimps, prostitutes, and corrupt politicians, his isolation intensifies, leading him toward a shocking and violent climax.
Scorsese's masterful direction, combined with De Niro's mesmerizing performance, creates a character study that both mesmerizes and unsettles, leaving viewers questioning the boundaries between hero and villain, sanity and madness. "Taxi Driver" remains a searing and prophetic examination of a society on the brink, capturing the dark undercurrents of a troubled era with uncompromising intensity.
Did You Know?:
Director Martin Scorsese claims that the most important shot in the movie is when Bickle is on the phone trying to get another date with Betsy. The camera moves to the side slowly and pans down the long, empty hallway next to Bickle, as if to suggest that the phone conversation is too painful and pathetic to bear; this shot also showcases his isolation and loneliness.
The climactic shoot-out was considered intensely graphic by some critics, who even considered giving the film an X rating. The film was booed at the Cannes Film Festival for its graphic violence. To obtain an R rating, Scorsese had the colors desaturated, making the brightly colored blood less prominent. In later interviews, Scorsese commented that he was pleased by the color change and considered it an improvement over the original scene. However, in the special-edition DVD, Michael Chapman, the film's cinematographer, expresses regret about the decision and the fact that no print with the unmuted colors exists anymore, as the originals had long since deteriorated.
Robert De Niro has said that despite having won an Oscar for The Godfather Part II (1974), he was still a relatively unfamiliar face, and was only recognized once while driving a New York cab during his research for this film.
Between the time Robert De Niro signed a $35,000 contract to appear in this film, and when it began filming, he won the Oscar for his role in The Godfather Part II (1974), and his profile soared. The producers were worried that De Niro would ask for a deserved larger pay raise, since Columbia Pictures was very concerned about the project, and were looking for excuses to pull the plug on it, but De Niro said he would honor his original deal so the film would get made.
When Paul Schrader was first writing the script, he believed that he was just writing about loneliness, but as the process went on, he realized he was writing about the pathology of loneliness. His theory being that, for some reason, some young men (such as Schrader himself) subconsciously push others away to maintain their isolation, even though the main source of their torment is this very isolation.
The Stanley Rubric:
Original Legacy Score: 9.25
New Legacy Score: 10
Original Impact/Significance Score: 9.75
New Impact/Significance Score: 9
Original Novelty Score: 9.5
New Novelty Score: 9.5
Original Classicness Score: 8.5
New Classicness Score: 8
Original Rewatchability Score: 4
New Rewatchability Score: 6.75
Original Audience Score: 9.3
New Audience Score: 9.1 (89% Google, 93% RT)
Original Total Score: 50.3
New Total Score: 52.35
David Bohrman, 69, American television executive (ABC News, CNN, Current TV)
Frederic Forrest, 86, American actor (The Rose, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now).
Nicolas Coster, 89, English/American actor (Santa Barbara, Another World, All the President's Men)
Sheldon Harnick, 99, American lyricist (Fiorello!, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me) and songwriter.
Was it a dream sequence?
How does Travis get out of all of the trouble?
Shouldn't Travis had needed a tracheotomy after the shootout?
What does he see in the last image of the film?