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Year:
1976
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
8.5
Director:
Martin Scorsese

 

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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
Taxi Driver 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
A Metaphor For Loneliness
Gritty, grim, and depressing, "Taxi Driver" tells the story of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a desperately lonely Vietnam vet who takes a job as a New York City cabby. The job should, in theory, draw him closer to people. Instead, it does just the opposite. Through the endless repetition of impersonal contacts, the ever-present prostitutes and pimps, and all the other reminders of urban indifference and sleaze, Travis' loneliness and alienation deepen into concealed rage.

Both delusional and morally judgmental, Travis counters in the only way he knows how, by taking up arms, literally. In his words: "Here's a man who would not take it anymore". He shaves the sides of his head, he pumps iron to get physically fit, perfects his weapons skills, and sets out to be a one-man vigilante committee.

"Taxi Driver" was, and still is, a relevant cinematic statement on urban alienation. The film's tone seesaws between menacing and dangerous on the one hand, and tawdry and seedy on the other, depending largely on Bernard Herrmann's excellent background music, and the moody neon of nighttime Manhattan. The taxi itself functions as a visual metaphor for loneliness.

The film looks and feels like typical 1970's drama: dark, downbeat, somber. There's almost no humor to offset the weighty subject matter. Dialogue is realistic for NYC street life. My major technical objection is the violence, which is overplayed. I did not much like the film's ending.

"Taxi Driver" has evolved into a cinematic classic, owing to its social message, Scorsese's direction, and Di Niro's flawless performance as the anti-hero at the center of the urban maelstrom. This is one of those films that a viewer can appreciate for its technical quality, but not really enjoy watching. Indeed, I find the film to be somewhat tedious to sit through. It's all just a bit too grungy and sordid for my taste.
2006-08-28
Disturbing, powerful, relevant, important
A towering classic of American cinematic power. Martin Scorsese teams up with one of the most intense actors of that time to create a masterpiece of urban alienation. Paul Schrader's magnificent script paints a portrait of loneliness in the largest city of the world. Travis never once enters into a meaningful relationship with any character anywhere in the film. He is the most hopelessly alone person I've ever encountered on film.

He is alone with his thoughts, and his thoughts are dark ones. The film fools you on a first viewing. Is Travis an endearing eccentric? Sure, he's odd, but he's so polite, and he's got a quirky sense of humor. His affection for Betsy is actually rather endearing. But on a second view, you see it for what it is. The audience comes to see Travis's psychosis gradually, but there's actually far less development than one might think. When he talks about cleaning up the city, the repeat viewer knows he doesn't mean some sort of Giuliani-facelift. This is less a film about a character in development as it is a kind of snapshot. To be sure, it takes the stimulus to provoke the response, but does that imply some kind of central change in the character?

Tremendous supporting roles are brought to life through vivid performances by Keitel and Foster especially. Shepard's character, Betsy, is little more than a foil to highlight Travis's utter alienation from society, but she is still impeccably portrayed. With only two scenes that don't center on Travis, it is unavoidably De Niro's show. The life with which the supporting cast imbues their characters is a credit to themselves, and to the director's willingness to let the film develop from the intersection of diverse ideas and approaches. What would the plot lose by eliminating the Albert Brooks character (Tom)? Nothing at all. He makes almost no impact on Travis's life, which is where the plot lives. But his inclusion makes the film as a whole much richer and fuller.

As a piece of American cinema history, this film will live forever. But far more important than that, this film will survive as a universal, ever-relevant examination of the workings of the alienated mind. The story doesn't end when the credits roll. We know Travis will snap again. But the story doesn't end with Travis either. It continues today in the cities and in the schools. The film is about the brutal power of the disaffected mind.

This film didn't cause the incidents in Colombine, or Hawaii, or Seattle, or wherever you care to look, even with all of its disturbing images of violence. It didn't cause those things. It predicted them.
1999-11-17
Scorsese's Best
Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese and legendary actor Robert DeNiro have made a hard, disturbing, isolating, gritty movie masterpiece. This is a fantastic piece of cinema.

DeNiro plays Travis Bickle, a Vietnam war veteran who has now become a taxi driver is a unstable, lonely man. As different series of events unfold he becomes more unstable and has the urge to lash out at a society that has gone down the sewer.

Taxi Driver is a superb piece of cinema. Every actor acts with passion so we believe them. In particular a young Jodie Foster stands out as child prostitute Iris, who is befriended by Travis. She delivers a great, heart-wrenching performance. We really feel for her character and all that she has gone through. Harvey Keitel does a great job as the PIMP Sonny. The audience doesn't like him one bit and that's thanks to Keitels great performance.

DeNiro delivers a truly great performance. Even though Travis is a lonely, violent, unstable cabbie we do feel sympathy for him and we almost cheer him on.

Scorsese has done a fabulous job of directing and the score by Bernard Herrmann is absolutely terrific. The dialogue is great and thought provoking and the cinematography is brilliant. The final scene at the brothel is very disturbing and violent but it's a scene that sticks with us and really is well done.

This was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar but sadly didn't win. This movie will go down in history as one of the greatest films made.

5/5.
2005-09-04
Explains What It`s Like To Be Male
***** SPOILERS *****

How would anyone be able to relate to Travis Bickle ? He`s a freak show , a fantasist and a loner who watches porn films in cinemas with a cola in one hand and a candy bar in another and to all intents and purposes is an assassin and a stalker , but he also strikes a cord with any man who`s been angry and young and rejected . He`s an outsider that society has turned its back on : " Why won`t you talk to me " is the heartbreaking question every young angry man screams at the world when he`s very alone

Scorsese directs Paul Schrader`s low concept script on a shoestring budget - That`s not a criticism , quite the reverse because this leads to a hyper-realism and it`d be impossible to think that a major Hollywood studio would produce something like this nowadays where everything is about making money while playing it safe : A character study of a disturbed loner ? 12 year old prostitutes ? Vigilante executions ? Too controversial , not enough explosions , not enough CGI . If there`s a flaw in the screenplay it`s at the end where Travis wipes out the pimp business and becomes a hero which left me confused . Doesn`t society punish murderers even if they kill scum that use 12 year olds as prostitutes ? Even if he was cleared by the jury surely Travis would still have stood trial for murder ? but this is never referred to in the closing scenes , but I guess this is a comment on how society can quickly make a hero out of a villain and how a nobody can become the talk of the town , but still it seems to go against the grain of the script where we - Or at least the young males in the audience - recognise that an uncaring society is the villain where as Travis is the hero all along

Despite the flawed ending of the screenplay ( Which is superb untill the last ten minutes ) this is still a movie masterpiece with Scorsese getting an acting tour de force from his cast . Jodie Foster as a child who sells her body on the streets of New York , a totally disturbing , brilliant performance , and DeNiro and Keitel in the same movie ! I`ve no idea if this is just hype but I heard all the stage schools in the USA were swamped at the time by applications from applicants in Compton , Hell`s Kitchen , South Central and The Bronx who`d seen DeNiro and Keitel in the " I`m hip " scene ( A scene that was totally adlibbed by the actors ) and decided that acting could be cool and macho after all . As I said I don`t know how true this is but the performances of these two actors has given a massive amount of credibility to the acting profession and it really is sad to see the DeNiro of today churn out so much garbage . This his greatest performance . I also rate it as Scorsese`s best movie

As a footnote may I recommend to all the angry young men reading this review to track down the albums of Matt Johnson aka The The especially the mid 80s albums SOUL MINING and INFECTED which have lyrics that could have been written by Travis himself . Matt is a great fan of Scorsese and it shows
2003-09-22
Scorese and De Niro at the top of their game
I am a big fan of Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Shutter Island, The Departed) and De Niro (Godfather Part 2), but the brilliance of Taxi Driver still stunned me.

I have seen two of the finest male performances given by De Niro in both the Godfather Part II and in Raging Bull, yet somehow he turned in his finest in this film. His portrayal and character are completely fascinating from start to finish. He creates a character that somehow transcends out of the screen and glues the audience into believing, sympathizing, and experiencing with his character. The same can be said for Scorsese. Up until this point I always had Raging Bull as his finest, but something about his work here is completely mesmerizing. Taxi Driver comes together as an incredible piece of filmmaking, with completely intriguing dialogue, and story-wise it is flawless (although technically wise I would say Scorsese was still getting the hang of it).

BRAVO to Taxi Driver, and I cannot believe I waited this long to see it.
2011-02-20
Live it and lose it
Scorsese's best. Not too many hyper-critical reviews of this film have anything near as intelligent to say about what the director and the screenwriter had in mind when they created this American gem.

To those people that have seen it and thought it was "slow" or the pacing was sub par, they don't know what they're talking about; "Taxi Driver" is about the gradual and eventual take-over of insanity, and not about violence, action-shoot-'em-up 'slash' car chase... or whatever they expected from it. The modern audience today is expecting everything--comedy, drama, unbearable suspense, spfx--all rolled-up into one-stop entertainment... and no, I'm not anybody's grandfather, or here to tell you that movies were great in my day, but, viewers, lighten up already.

De Niro, and the rest of the cast, do a serviceable job in this micro-cosmic window into the life of Travis Bickle--a Vietnam vet--who, true, writes mind-numbing entries in his diary, leads a, for the most part, dull existance as a cabbie, and strikes out with a female political campaigner who, after Travis becomes a hero, discovers she is indeed attracted to unstable, sometimes violent chauffeurs.

The rest of this movie's story is for the less initiated viewer; decide whether you've truly become desensitized to sexual and violent content in today's films... Ah, forget it! You have to have lived at least some of which goes on in "Taxi Driver," or you've just been plain lucky in this life so far.
2003-01-15
DeNiro at the peak of acting excellence
Robert DeNiro gives a tour de force of acting excellence in this movie. One of the best acting performances of all time. This is a period of DeNiro's career when he was consistently churning out Oscar calibre performances one after another. He had this movie, Godfather Part II, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull all within the same basic time frame. When DeNiro and Scorsese were teaming up to make movies it was the best actor/director combinations in movie history. You had the best mind for movies in Scorsese working with the best on screen performer of his time.

It's a study of a man who's completely alone in the world even when surrounded by other people. What DeNiro was able to do just looking into a mirror asking "Are you talking to me" by himself is one of the best movie scenes in movie history.
2013-01-17
Well-Made Film, Though Not Sure It Stands Time For Me
A taxi driver (Robert DeNiro) grows sick of the filth he sees in society, or at least New York. Attracted to a political campaign volunteer (Cybil Shepherd), he tries to find some redeeming qualities in life... but his brief hope in politics is dashed and he realizes the only way to clean up New York is with his own hands.

I am unsure how I feel about "Taxi Driver". I liked it. Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro are a great team, and the gritty violence of this film really is portrayed in a way that captures the viewer in a death grip. Jodie Foster is amazing, especially considering her age, and the historical place this movie has (given the Reagan shooting and all) makes it timeless regardless of the film's merits.

But it has its flaws. The film quality is grainy (though, as i say, this adds to the gritty feeling). Harvey Keitel, despite being a great actor, is in the wrong role. And compared to some of Scorsese's other work, this doesn't come across to me as some of his better material. His more recent contributions -- "The Departed" and "Gangs of New York", for example -- are vastly superior in pretty much every way. While "Taxi Driver" is not a bad film, it is easily overshadowed by the other Scorsese offerings.

If you haven't seen it, I would recommend you do. If for no other reason than giving Scorsese a fair chance, this is worth checking out. The man has been sidelined for too long and someday critics and other people will look back and see his body of work as powerful and influential art.
2009-08-29
Perfect movie making
Perfect movie making, that includes a great lead actor, director and scored with perfect music. Some can relate to either the narrative or/and the character development. My father believes the film meant a lot to him in the seventies coming back from a war he didn't want to fight in, so its interesting to see how reverent it is today. The ending confused me.
2003-04-15
Best movie of the Seventies, and one of the greatest of all time.
So much has been written and talked about 'Taxi Driver' that it seems almost redundant to add anything more. But watching it again the other night for the nth time I was, as I have been every single time I've seen it, struck by just how perfect this movie is. It is as powerful and disturbing now as it was twenty-five years ago. It has not only NOT aged, it gets better and more relevant every year. This is without doubt a modern classic, and one of the handful of truly great, timeless movies.

Scorsese and Schrader went on to make other great movies after this, both separately ('The King Of Comedy', 'Light Sleeper') and together ('Raging Bull', 'The Last Temptation Of Christ'), but this is easily the best movie of their careers. And Robert De Niro's too. He has yet to top his stunning performance here as the deeply disturbed and alienated Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle, cabbie and would be assassin. This character has not surprisingly entered movie legend.

Scorsese surrounds De Niro with a first rate supporting cast, including small but effective roles from Harvey Keitel ('Reservoir Dogs'), Peter Boyle ('Hardcore'), the underrated Victor Argo ('The King Of New York') and Joe Spinell ('Maniac'). Albert Brooks and Jodie Foster are also very good, and even Cybil Shepherd, the butt of many jokes, is fine as Bickle's obsession.

When you combine these actors, Schrader's outstanding script, and Scorsese's brilliant direction, with the stunning cinematography (Michael Chapman) and haunting score (Hitchcock fave Bernard Herrmann's final effort), you have yourself a truly unforgettable cinematic experience. If you haven't seen 'Taxi Driver' I urge you to do so immediately. It is a masterpiece, pure and simple.

2002-06-04
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