Taxi Driver
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Taxi Driver can be found here.

Lonely ex-Marine Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), recently returned from the Vietnam War, takes a job as a taxi driver and tries to meet the woman of his dreams Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a campaign worker for presidential hopeful Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris). Travis and Betsy strike up a friendship but, when Travis attempts to take her to a Swedish sex movie, Betsy walks out of the threater and refuses to see him again. Travis then turns his attention to cleaning up the decadence of New York City. He befriends 12-year-old child prostitute Iris "Easy" Steamsma (Jodie Foster) and declares war on her pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel).

Taxi Driver was filmed from a screenplay written by American screenwriter Paul Schrader. Schrader claims to have been inspired by his own experiences living in a car following a divorce and break-up with his girlfriend. He also says that he was inspired by the diaries of Arthur Bremer (the man who attempted to assassinate U.S. democratic presidential candidate George Wallace on 15 May, 1972) as well as Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground (1864), both of which depict the loneliness and isolation of feeling alienated amidst a bustling society.

"Break/bust my chops" literally means to "punch my face", but it generally means to give someone a hard time. "Take it on the arches" is slang for "you can leave" (likely referring to walking away on the arches of your feet).

Kris Kristofferson's "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33".

Martin Scorsese had heard stories about how some soldiers in the Vietnam War would shave their heads into Mohawks before going into a battle in which they were sure they would not survive. Travis sees this as his last mission, to assassinate Palatine and rescue Iris from Sport. He tells Iris during breakfast that he "might be going away for a awhile" meaning either to jail or that he is going to die. The Mohawk also symbolizes Travis' now complete transformation from a lonely citizen to a completely alienated and dangerous vigilante.

Travis feels lonely and isolated, but there are times when he does try to reach out to other people. He tries to help Iris escape her life of prostitution, and he also tries to start a relationship with Betsy. The relationship with Betsy ends almost as quickly as it starts, and she becomes something he wants but cannot have. Travis' next attempt at reaching out is with Wizard, with whom he has an almost "father and son" conversation in which he looks for advice on the urges he is having and struggling to control. This also falls flat, with Wizard offering no real advice at all, and it is at this point that Travis seems locked into a life of isolation, so he chooses his path of vengeance. Thinking that Betsy is now at the same level as the rest of society and angry that she doesn't respect him or look up to him, Travis sets out to kill Palantine, who he knows is Betsy's real father figure, someone she looks up to and admires. When this attempt fails, he turns to Sport who is the father figure of the other woman in his life, Iris.

It is Robert De Niro. The newspaper clippings look like his driver's license picture, and in the picture, the newspaper is slightly faded and he looks as if he's clean shaven so he doesn't look quite the same as we are used to seeing him throughout the movie. As for the rearview mirror, it was definitely De Niro again as seen by the mole on his cheek. Though admittedly he does look different than the alternate shot of his entire face. This could be explained that it was filmed at a different time so the makeup might have changed between filming.

Unsuccessful at his attempt to assassinate Senator Palantine, Travis goes after Sport instead, confronting him on the apartment stoop and shooting him point blank in the belly. He then goes into the brothel where Iris works and shoots the bouncer in the hand. Sport tries to follow him but Travis shoots him again after Sport wings him in the neck with a bullet. Travis then goes up the stairs looking for Iris. The bouncer follows, yelling, "I'll kill you," but Travis pumps more bullets into him. Iris' john opens the door and shoots Travis in the arm, but Travis blows him back on the bedroom floor with several bullets. The bouncer comes after him once again, so Travis stabs him and finally kills him with several more shots. As Iris kneels on the floor crying, Travis puts the gun under his chin and tries to fire but discovers that he's out of bullets, so he collapses on the couch and waits for the police. When they show up with their guns drawn, Travis points his bloody finger at his head and pretends to pull the trigger. The camera then pans down the stairs and out the front door, showing the bloodied walls and carnage along the way.

Cut to a montage of newspaper articles that, ironically, hail the taxi driver as a hero for shooting a famed mafioso. In a voiceover, Mr Steamsma reads a letter he sent to Travis, thanking him for sending Iris home.


Dear Mr. Bickle, I can't say how happy Mrs Steamsma and I were to hear that you are well and recuperating. We tried to visit you at the hospital when we were in New York to pick up Iris, but you were still in a coma. There is no way we can repay you for returning our Iris to us. We though we had lost her, and now our lives are full again. Needless to say, you are something of a hero around this household. I'm sure you want to know about Iris. She's back in school and working hard. The transition has been very hard for her, as you can well imagine, but we have taken steps to see she never has cause to run away again. In conclusion, Mrs Steamsma and I would like to again thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to come to New York again to thank you in person, or we surely would, but if you should ever come to Pittsburgh, you would find yourself a most welcome guest in our home. Our deepest thanks, Burt and Ivy Steamsma.
In the final scene, Travis is back to driving cab and jawing with the other cabbies at the cab stand when he gets a fare. It's Betsy. After a strained silence, they make small talk, Betsy revealing that Palantine got the nomination and that she read about Travis in the paper, and Travis replying that it was nothing. Betsy gets out of the cab and asks how much she owes him. Travis smiles and drives off wordlessly, not charging her anything.

No, in order to secure the film an R rating, Martin Scorsese had to desaturate the colour of the film for the shootout scene so the blood does not look as graphic. Scorsese has admitted he actually liked the desaturated result better than the original, but the film's cinematographer, Michael Chapman, did not. The original negatives for the scene no longer exist, as they deteriorated over the years.

Policing at the time when this was set is different from policing today. The fact that it was only pimps and lowlifes that were killed would be enough for most people to see the actions as just and for the police to spin a self-defence motive and not bother bringing any charges. (It hopefully still is.) Another theory is that the last ending sequence is the ultimate fantasy of Travis Bickle, hence the change in the narrative, the lack of a mohawk, the perfect ending with Betsy and the way newspapers praise him plus the fact that hes not in prison.

Scorsese himself has commented that it was meant to signal to the audience that Travis could have a fit of rage again at any point in the future and that he is not the glorious hero the newspapers make him out to be. The sound itself was originally a cymbal clash. However, Scorsese felt that it sounded too clich so Bernard Herrmann had the idea to play the sound backwards, making it sound unusual and threatening.

Viewers are mixed in their answer to this question. Some see Travis as an "avenging angel", not unlike John McClane (Bruce Willis) in Die Hard (1988) or Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) in Death Wish (1974). Other viewers see Travis as a sociopath alienated from society, a villain whose actions being interpreted as heroism was simply a lucky break.

r73731


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