A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
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 Palantine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs 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. Written by
"Travis Bickle" has to be one of the most fascinating characters ever put on film, and this has to still rank as one of the best post-film noir era "noirs" ever made.
Yeah the story is a bit seedy but it's an incredibly interesting portrait of a mentaly unbalanced cab driver (Bickle, played by Robert De Niro) and his obsessions with "cleaning up" New York City.
In addition to De Niro's stunning performance, we see a young and gorgeous Cybill Shepherd and a very, very young (12 years old) Jodie Foster. I've always wondered what kind of parents would allow their 12-year-old daughter to play a role like this, but that's another subject. Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel (with shoulder-length hair!) and Peter Boyle all lend good supporting help.
Bickle's transformation from a "disturbed" cabbie to a fully-deranged assassin is fantastic to watch, and includes one of the classic scenes in all film history: Bickle talking to the mirror and repeating the question, "You talking' to me?" That scene, and seeing De Niro in a Mohawk haircut later at a political rally are two scenes I'll never forget.
The more times I've watched this, the more I appreciate the cinematography and the music in here. There are some wonderful night shots of the city's oil and rain-slicked streets. Also, Bernard Herrmann eerie soundtrack is an instrumental part of the success of this film and should never be neglected in discussing this film.
Director Martin Scorcese has made a number of well-known (but not particularly box-office successful) films, and I still think this early effort of his was his best. He's never equaled it, although I think he and De Niro almost pulled it off five years later with another whacked-out character, "Rupert Pupkin" In "The King Of Comedy."
In any case, there is no debate that Scorcese and De Niro are a great team and that Taxi Driver is one of the most memorable movies of the Seventies.
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