Taxi Driver – The Robert De Niro Show

Taxi Driver – The Robert De Niro Show

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  1. Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese worked together on 8 films spanning from the 70s and into the 90s.  The second of which was the classic Taxi Driver in 1976 that was nominated for a solid 4 Oscars including Best Lead Actor (Robert DeNiro), Best Supporting Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Original Score (Bernard Herrmann), and Best Picture which it lost to another American classic:  Rocky.  The critical acclaim Taxi Driver garnered helped introduce both Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro to the film world and prove that they are both amazingly talented at what they do.

    What is it about?

    Taxi Driver follows the story of a mentally unstable, but good-hearted Vietnam vet, Travis Bickle (DeNiro), as he drives a taxi at night on the dirty streets of New York.  Bickle hates the city and thinks it is full of the refuse of the world.  He sees the dark side of human nature at night and despises it.  The only light in his world is a beautiful campaign volunteer, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), with whom he becomes obsessed.  Once he finally finds the courage to ask her out, she agrees.  After he ruins their second date, though, he loses his only light and starts going down a dangerous and violent path.

    Bickle still wants to be a good person so he tries to help a teenage hooker named Iris (Jodie Foster).  When he finally snaps and takes his aggression and hate out on the dirty New York nightlife, he does end up helping Iris out of her situation.  It costs him his safety, but he becomes a hero.

    Is it any good?

    Robert DeNiro makes this film.  His powerful and troubled performance as Travis Bickle is enough to keep anyone entertained and invested in the film.  Jodie Foster adds to the acting talent by proving that, even at a young age, she has some acting chops.  She portrays Iris’s inner struggle perfectly and makes us root for her even though she has made some bad choices.

    The story is strong, but paced a little strangely.  It speeds up and slows down in seemingly random spurts making it feel uneven.  This could be, in part, the simple fact that films were made differently in the 70s.  Pacing was slower, in general, and shots were held longer.  It makes it a little harder to watch since today’s audiences are used to a more fast-paced style of filmmaking.

    Overall Taxi Driver is a very good film despite its troublesome pacing.  It isn’t for everyone, though, as it is rather violent and might frustrate some people because it certainly shows its age.  It’s considered a classic for a reason, though… because it has stood the test of time and is still a viable film today.

    Interesting facts

    – Martin Scorsese cameos in Taxi Driver and says some very offensive things.  He also cameos in some of his other films including Mean Streets, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and others.

    – Jodie Foster was less than 14 years old when filming Taxi Driver but she had been acting since she was 7, so she wasn’t a stranger to being in front of a camera. 

    – According to IMDB.com, DeNiro actually spent a month working 12 hour days driving a cab in order to prepare for his role as Travis Bickle.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B

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