Taxi Driver  

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"In the 1976 film Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) on a date to the sexploitation film Language of Love."--Sholem Stein


"You talkin' to me?"-- Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976)


"Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man."--Travis Bickle


"Paul wrote Taxi Driver out his own gut and his own heart in two-and-a-half terrible weeks. I felt close to the character [of Travis Bickle] by way of Dostoevski. I had always wanted to do a move of Notes from the Underground. I mentioned that to Paul and he said, "Well this is what I have -- Taxi Driver," and I said, "Great, this is it.""--Martin Scorsese: A Journey (1991) by Mary Pat Kelly

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Taxi Driver (1976) is an American film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Paul Schrader, and starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, Leonard Harris, and Albert Brooks. Set in a decaying and morally bankrupt New York City following the Vietnam War, the film follows Travis Bickle (De Niro), a taxi driver and veteran, and his deteriorating mental state as he works nights in the city.

With The Wrong Man (1956) and A Bigger Splash (1973) as inspiration, Scorsese wanted the film to feel like a dream to audiences. With cinematographer Michael Chapman, filming began in the summer of 1975 in New York City, with actors taking pay cuts to ensure that the project could be completed on a low budget of $1.9 million. Production concluded that same year, with a score being composed by Bernard Herrmann in his final score before his death; the film is dedicated to him.

The film was theatrically released by Columbia Pictures on February 8, 1976, where it was a critical and commercial success, despite generating controversy for its graphic violence at the climactic ending, and casting of then-12-year-old Foster in the role of a child prostitute. Considered one of the greatest films ever made, the film received numerous accolades including the 1976 Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or, and four nominations at the 49th Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, Best Actor (for De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (for Foster).

In 2012, Sight & Sound named it the 31st-best film ever in its decennial critics' poll, ranked with The Godfather Part II, and the fifth-greatest film of all time on its directors' poll. In 1994, the film was considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the US Library of Congress, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Plot

Travis Bickle is a 26-year-old honorably discharged U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and living in isolation in New York City. Travis takes a job as a night shift taxi driver to cope with his chronic insomnia. He frequents the porn theaters on 42nd Street and keeps a diary in which he consciously attempts to include aphorisms, such as "you're only as healthy as you feel."

Travis becomes infatuated with Betsy, a campaign volunteer for senator and presidential candidate Charles Palantine. After watching her interact with fellow worker Tom through her window, Travis enters to volunteer as a pretext to talk to her, then takes her out for coffee. Betsy agrees to go on another date with him, during which he takes her to see a pornographic film; a disgusted Betsy leaves. Travis attempts to reconcile with her, to no avail. Enraged, he storms into the campaign office where she works and berates her before he is ordered to leave by Tom.

Experiencing an existential crisis and seeing various counts of prostitution throughout the city, Travis confides in fellow taxi driver Wizard about his thoughts, which are beginning to turn violent; however, Wizard assures him that he will be fine. In an attempt to find an outlet for his rage, Travis begins a program of intense physical training. A fellow taxi driver refers him to a black market gun dealer, "Easy" Andy, from whom Travis buys four handguns. At home, Travis practices drawing his weapons, and modifies one to allow him to hide and quickly deploy it from his sleeve. He also begins attending Palantine's rallies to scope out their security. One night, Travis enters a convenience store to buy food and sees the shopkeeper, Melio, being robbed and threatened. Travis shoots the robber dead. When Travis reveals that he does not have a license for the gun, the thankful Melio (an acquaintance of Travis') urges him to leave, saying he will "take care of it".

On his trips around the city, Travis regularly encounters Iris, a child prostitute whom he fantasizes about saving from her life of exploitation. Travis solicits her and tries to convince her to stop prostituting herself. Soon after, Travis cuts his hair into a mohawk and attends a public rally where he plans to assassinate Palantine. However, he is chased away by Secret Service agents who see him drawing his gun.

That evening, Travis drives to the brothel where Iris works and confronts her pimp, "Sport", outside where he shoots him. He enters the building and engages in a shootout with Iris's other clients and is hit several times. Travis manages to kill the two men, then brawls with the bouncer, stabbing and killing him with his knife, before slumping on a couch next to a sobbing Iris. He attempts to kill himself, but is out of bullets. As police report to the scene, a delirious Travis imitates shooting himself in the head before falling into a coma from his injuries.

Travis is heralded by the press as a heroic vigilante and is not prosecuted for the murders. He receives a letter from Iris's father, thanking him. After recovering, Travis returns to work, where he encounters Betsy as a fare; they interact cordially, with Betsy saying she followed his story in the newspapers and Travis sounding pleased when she confirms Palantine won his party's nomination before adding "I hope he wins". Travis drives her home and, as Betsy's opens her purse to pay him for her fare, he smiles and drives off without taking any money. However, as he drives off, Travis becomes suddenly agitated after noticing something in his rear-view mirror.

Cast




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Taxi Driver" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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