Film Review: Taxi Driver

#1 taxi driver poster

Tagline: “On every street in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody.”

“You talking to me?” The most imitated and memorable line from Taxi Driver, was voted as the #10 movie quote by the American Film Institute.

Taxi Driver (1976) is about an introverted, increasingly unstable ex-Marine, Travis Bickel [Robert DeNiro], working as a night-shift cabbie in NYC. He feels it is his duty to take on the dark underside of humanity and he has several priorities. One priority is to rescue Iris [Jodie Foster], a twelve-year-old runaway, presently a hooker he feels is under the power of her irredeemable pimp, Matthew, who won’t release her from his grasp.

#2 Taxi Driver tb sitting in taxi normal haircut

Another priority is to win over Betsy [Cybill Shepherd], a young woman he has been watching as she works in a grown floor office visible with its pane glass windows. He has been watching Betsy and Iris from a distance.

The screenwriter, Paul Schrader, believed he was writing about ‘loneliness’ but as he continued to write the script for Taxi Driver he realized his writing was focused on ‘the pathology of loneliness.’ His theory was ‘some people subconsciously push others away, maintaining their isolation, though the source of their disturbance is isolation itself.’ Travis Bickle does this, even as he reaches out to Iris and Betsy, trying to make a connection.

#3 Taxi Driver tb when he looked innocent

Travis feels Betsy is something good in his life, amongst the degradation of the humanity of New York City. To him, Betsy is above the disgrace and depravity consuming NYC. She has a perfect job working on the presidential campaign for of Senator Charles Palantine.

Travis feels Betsy holds a purity and raises her above others, but his relationship with Betsy develops into an obsession. His loneliness and madness have control of him, driving him to try to fix his world with violence. Even if what he does is for a good cause, does he have the right?

#4 taxi driver tb in a porm theatre

Taxi Drive also shows, beyond the loneliness, how hard it is for veterans to return to society. Most veterans face what Travis Bickle does. It’s explicit. Travis Bickle suffers from an inner madness, probably brought on by PTSD. Vietnam pushed many soldiers over the boundaries from sanity into a world charged up, tripping from the world existing in their minds into reactions to the world around them. Travis felt deeply ignored. He saw the ugliness surrounding him and felt the world had lowered itself into a sewer. His solution was to take on the depravity and bring it down.

#5 taxi driver tb looking in rear view mirror

Taxi Driver was an early film both for DeNiro and Scorsese. DeNiro was not the first choice to play Travis Bickle. Dustin Hoffman was approached but he turned it down, to his later regret. Could Dustin have portrayed Bickle? Possibly. But DeNiro is the imprint of Travis Bickle. He put the madness into his eyes when he starred into the mirror and echoed the words: “You talkin’ to me,” repeatedly. The insanity shows through, and it is when the viewer really begins to worry where and how that insanity is going to show its face to the outside world.

#6 taxi driver cybil_shepherd in tb taxi he's watching her

There are many Travis Bickle’s all over the world who have lost their sense of what is needed to make the world a safe and peaceful place to live. There is so much insanity in different forms. Some want to turn the world into a crumbling mass, unrecognizable where time never existed. It is ISIL and the fundamental right who want to go back to time before it existed. They hate this world and want it destroyed. Some would so far as to wish for the Apocalypse. The rhetoric and bile that come out of the mouths of some politician echo this sentiment. They hate the different and want to bar them from our country.

#7 taxi driver tb w iris in diner trying to talk

We are a country of difference. This is a good thing. Difference is okay. Violence is not. There are those who seek to destroy everything “other.” We can’t let them. They are afraid of it and call it evil. Who decides what is good or evil? For Travis Bickle. It was him. In Taxi Driver, we see how that turns out.

#8 taxi driver 1976 meeting iris for first time as a 'john' not really what he wants

Watching Taxi Driver is like seeing the creation of the school shooters and the making of terrorists from people who are lost and looking for something to belong to. For some unknown reason young people are drawn to what Daesh offers. They want to be around people who act like they care and believe what they offer is so wonderful. A new cult rises with insane ideas.

#9 taxi driver tb 'you talkin' to me'

It is what cults offer to the lost. And those with a strong need to belong and follow will go so far as to put themselves in harm’s way, strap a bomb to their body and take as many warm bodies with you as you are able. How proud that should make someone. What a goal.

Travis Bickle’s may have seemed more justified but no one has the right to take another’s life unless it is to protect the innocent dying.

#10 taxi driver tb transformation w mohawk hair cut

This is a classic film all adults should watch sometime in their life. It is one of the more interesting studies of human behavior. I recommend and give it 5 stars out of 5. – jk

Taxi Driver  (1976) – Movie Trailer

Rated…R (Guns, Gun Violence, Sex, Prostitution, Pornography, Extreme Violence, Adult Content)
Genres…Crime | Drama | Violence | Psychological | Pathological
Length…1h 53m | 1h 50m [cut]
Released…8 February 1976 (USA)
Filming Locations…Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Director…Martin Scorsese
Writer…Paul Schrader
Soundtrack…Bernard Hermann

Robert DeNiro…Travis Bickle
Cybill Shepherd…Betsy
Jodie Foster…Iris
Albert Brooks…Tom
Peter Boyle…Wizard

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Film Review: Taxi Driver, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

About the Author:

Words. Ideas. Visions. Sounds. Abstractions. Attract the Writer. Poet. Artist Inside of Me. Seeking Out the Unknown & Infinite Possibilities & Impossibilities. Living My Life Filled with Imagination & Creativity. Zen – j.kiley
  • Garry Crystal

    Superb film, one of my top five from that era as well as Midnight Cowboy and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Been too long since I’ve seen this.

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    • jennifer kiley

      I agree. Taxi Drive is excellent. I love the other two you mentioned. I had the fortunate opportunity to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in NYC in theatre in the round. Brilliant. The character Joe from the film was playing the same part in the play. The older films I feel are some of the best. Hollywood isn’t too interested in anything but blockbusters. Thankfully, their is a growing independent film ground swell to make the films with meaning and tleave you with the feeling you’ve seen something special.Thanks for your comment Garry. -- jk

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