Taxi Driver

In Movies on October 10, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver is a 1976 film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The movie is set in early post–Vietnam Era New York City and stars Robert De Niro and features Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle and Cybill Shepherd.

Travis Bickle (De Niro), is a lonely and depressed young man of 26. His origins are unknown, although it is likely that he is from the Midwest. He sends his parents cards, lying about his life and saying he works with the Secret Service. He settles in Manhattan where he becomes a night time taxi driver due to chronic insomnia. Bickle spends his restless days in seedy porn theaters and works 12 or 14 hour shifts during the evening and night time hours carrying passengers among all five boroughs of New York City.

Bickle becomes interested in “Betsy” (Cybill Shepherd), a campaign volunteer for New York Senator “Charles Palantine,” who is running for the presidential nomination and is promising dramatic social change. On one of their dates, Bickle took her to see an adult film and this offended her. She ended up leaving him alone.

Rejected and depressed, Bickle’s thoughts begin to turn violent. Disgusted by the petty street crime (especially prostitution) that he witnesses while driving through the city, he now finds a focus for his frustration and begins a program of intense physical training. He buys a number of pistols from an illegal dealer (Steven Prince) and practices a menacing speech in the mirror, while pulling out a pistol that he attached to a home-made sliding action holster on his right arm (“You talkin’ to me?“).

In the scene, Bickle is looking into a mirror at himself, imagining a confrontation which would give him a chance to draw his gun. He says the following line:

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

Bickle is revolted by what he considers the moral decay around him. One night while on shift, “Iris” (Jodie Foster), a 12-year-old child prostitute, gets in his cab, attempting to escape her pimp. Shocked by the occurrence Bickle fails to drive off and the pimp, “Sport” (Harvey Keitel), reaches the cab. Sport gives Bickle a crumpled twenty dollar bill, which haunts Travis with the memory of his failure to help. Later seeing Iris on the street he pays for her time, although he does not have sex with her and instead tries to convince her to leave this way of life behind. The next day, they meet for breakfast and Bickle becomes obsessed with saving this naive child-woman who thinks hanging out with hookers, pimps and drug dealers is more “hip” than dating young boys and going to school.

Any lingering doubt in the viewer’s mind about Bickle’s insanity is obliterated when he is suddenly and shockingly shown to be sporting a crude Mohawk haircut at a public rally in which he actually attempts to assassinate Senator Palantine. He is spotted by Secret Service men and flees. Bickle returns to his apartment, then drives to Alphabet City where he shoots Sport, before storming into the brothel and killing the bouncer, Sport (who has followed Bickle), and Iris’ mafioso customer. He then calmly tries repeatedly to fire a bullet into his own head from under his chin but all the weapons are empty so he resigns himself to resting on a convenient sofa until police arrive on the scene of mayhem and carnage.

Taxi Driver was a financial success earning $28,262,574 in the United States. This film is one of Scorsese’s benchmarks in film and listed as one of 100 best films of all time featured by Time Magazine.Travis Bickle’s character has also become some sort of pop culture icon for youth and made De Niro famous.

Travis Bickle as youth Culture Icon


Cannes Film FestivalPalme d’Or

New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor – (Robert De Niro)

BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – (Jodie Foster)

BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer – (Jodie Foster)

BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music – (Bernard Herrmann)


Academy Award for Best Picture

Academy Award for Best Actor – (Robert De Niro)

Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – (Jodie Foster)

Academy Award for Original Music Score – (Bernard Herrmann)

BAFTA Award for Best Film

BAFTA Award for Direction – (Martin Scorsese)

DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – (Martin Scorsese)

Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama – (Robert De Niro)

Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture – (Bernard Herrmann)

BAFTA Award for Best Editing – (Marcia Lucas, Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro)

Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – (Paul Schrader)

WGA Award for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen – (Paul Schrader)

*Freely adapted from Wikipedia, pictures are courtesy of my DVD 🙂

  1. u talkin to me? huh..? you talkin to me?

  2. Yes, I’m talking to you, bro……

  3. Awesome, dude

  4. Great post, this indeed had been one of the hits after “Mean Streets” with the same duo of De Niro and Keitel.

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