Taxi Driver surely doesn’t need too much of an introduction. Often cited as the film that really kicked Martin Scorsese’s career into gear after the success of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver is one of the single most acclaimed films of all time, one whose influence has also clearly lasted to this day with the more recent release of Joker in 2019 which shared many of the same ideas and topics, and deservedly so. Scorsese directs a young Robert De Niro in the film, which would go on to mark the coming of two new giants within the film industry, following Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle (no doubt, one of cinema’s most iconic characters) as he comes back home and tries to adjust to life in New York… needless to say, it doesn’t go too well.
Coming from one of the early scripts from another film industry veteran, Paul Schrader (maybe now more recognised for his work as a director, on films including First Reformed and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters) who would go on to write scripts for many of the grittiest films of the 1970s in America, Scorsese’s film beautifully navigates the minefield that was American politics in the mid-70s, looking at the aftermath of the war, America’s growing interest in violence and, maybe most infamously, prostitution in the scenes with a fourteen-year-old Jodie Foster. Of course, it’s also one of the most quoted films of all time, with lines like “Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…” becoming as iconic as Bickle’s mohawk seen towards the end of the film.
For such a grim and bleak film, it’s surprising that it would go on to become so successful, but if ever a film deserved it, it’s Taxi Driver. A perfect moment in the Hollywood New Wave – one marked by the incredible cinematography of Michael Chapman (who also shot Raging Bull, another Scorsese masterpiece) and the indelible score by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. Films rarely get better than this.
Check out the trailer for Taxi Driver below: