Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Julia Phillips
Michael Phillips
Written by Paul Schrader
Narrated by Robert De Niro
Starring Robert De Niro
Jodie Foster
Albert Brooks
Harvey Keitel
Leonard Harris
Peter Boyle
Cybill Shepherd
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Michael Chapman
Editing by Tom Rolf
Melvin Shapiro
Studio Columbia Pictures
Italo/Judeo Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) February 8, 1976 (1976-02-08)
Running time 113 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.3 million
Box office $28,262,574

Taxi Driver is a 1976 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The film is set in New York City, soon after the Vietnam War. The film stars Robert De Niro and features Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Cybill Shepherd. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. The American Film Institute ranked Taxi Driver as the 52nd greatest American film ever made on their AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) list.



Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a lonely and depressed young man and former Marine living in Manhattan. He becomes a night time taxi driver in order to cope with his chronic insomnia, working 12-hour shifts nearly every night, carrying passengers around all five boroughs of New York City. His restless days, meanwhile, are spent in seedy porn theaters. He keeps a diary (excerpts from which are occasionally narrated via voice-over during the film). Bickle is an honorably discharged Marine, and it is implied that he is a Vietnam veteran; he keeps a charred Viet Cong flag in his squalid apartment and has a large scar on his back.

Bickle develops a romantic attachment to Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a campaign volunteer for New York Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris). Palantine is running for President on a platform of dramatic social change. After watching her from his taxi through the windows of Palantine's campaign office, Bickle enters the office asking to volunteer as a pretext to talk with Betsy. Bickle convinces her to join him for coffee and pie, and she later agrees to let him take her to a movie. She says he reminds her of a line in Kris Kristofferson's song "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33": "He's a prophet and a pusher, partly truth, partly fiction–a walking contradiction." On their date, Bickle takes her to see Language of Love, a Swedish sex education film.[1] Offended, she leaves the movie theater and takes a taxi home alone. The next day he tries to reconcile with Betsy, phoning her and sending her flowers, to no avail.

Bickle's thoughts begin to turn violent. The only person in whom he vaguely confides his new views and desires is fellow taxi driver "Wizard" (Peter Boyle), who tells Travis that he's seen all kinds in his time driving cabs, and he believes Travis will be fine. Disgusted by the petty street crime (especially prostitution) that he witnesses while driving through the city, he now finds a focus for his frustration and begins a program of intense physical training. He buys four guns from an illegal dealer, "Easy Andy" (Steven Prince). He then constructs a sleeve gun to attach on his right arm and practices concealing and drawing his weapons. He develops an interest in Senator Palantine's public appearances. One night, Bickle enters a run-down grocery just moments before a man attempts to rob the store. Bickle shoots the man in the neck. The grocery owner (Victor Argo) encourages Bickle to flee after he expresses worry for shooting the man with an unlicensed gun. As Bickle leaves, the store owner repeatedly clubs the near-dead man with a steel pole.

On another night, Iris (Jodie Foster), a 12-year-old child prostitute, enters Bickle's cab, attempting to escape her pimp, "Sport" (Harvey Keitel). When Bickle fails to drive away, Sport drags Iris from the cab and throws Bickle a crumpled twenty-dollar bill. Bickle later meets Iris in the street and pays her for her time, not to have sex, but to try and persuade her to quit prostitution. They meet again the next day for breakfast, and Bickle becomes obsessed with helping Iris leave Sport and return to her parents' home.

Bickle sends Iris several hundred dollars attached to a letter telling her he will soon be dead. After shaving his head into a Mohawk haircut, he attends a public rally where he attempts to assassinate Senator Palantine. Secret Service agents notice him approaching and Bickle flees. He returns to his apartment, then drives to the East Village, where he and Sport get into a confrontation in which the two insult each other. Bickle shoots Sport in the gut, then storms into the brothel and kills the bouncer. After the wounded Sport shoots Bickle in the neck, slightly wounding him, Bickle shoots him dead, as well as Iris' mafioso customer. Bickle is shot several times. Kneeling on the floor of Iris' room, he attempts several times to fire a bullet into his own head, but all his weapons are out of ammunition, so he resigns himself to resting on a sofa until police arrive. When they do arrive, he places his index finger against his temple like a gun and pretends to shoot himself in the head several times.

While recuperating, Bickle receives a handwritten letter from Iris' parents who thank him for saving their daughter, and the media hail him as a hero. Bickle returns to his job, and encounters Betsy as a fare. She discusses his newly found fame, but he denies being a hero. He drops her off without charging her. As he drives away, he glances anxiously at an object in his taxi's rear view mirror.



According to Scorsese it was Brian De Palma who introduced him to Schrader. In Scorsese on Scorsese, edited by David M. Thompson and Ian Christie, the director talks about how much of the film arose from his feeling that movies are like dreams, or like taking dope and that he tried to induce the feeling of being almost awake. He calls Travis an “avenging angel” floating through the streets of New York City, which was meant to represent all cities. Scorsese calls attention to improvisation in the film, such as in the scene between De Niro and Cybill Shepherd in the coffee-shop. The director also cites Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man and Jack Hazan’s A Bigger Splash as inspiration for his camerawork in the movie.[2]

In Scorsese on Scorsese the director mentions the religious symbology in the story comparing Bickle to a saint who wants to clean up both life and his mind. Bickle attempts suicide at the end of the movie as a way to mimic the Samurai’s “death with honour” principle.[2]

Shot during a New York summer heat wave and garbage strike, Taxi Driver came into conflict with the MPAA for its violence (Scorsese desaturated the color in the final shoot-out and got an R). To achieve the atmospheric scenes in Bickle's cab, the sound men would get in the trunk and Scorsese and his cinematographer, Michael Chapman, would fit themselves on the back seat floor and use available light to shoot.

In writing the script, Paul Schrader was inspired by the diaries of Arthur Bremer (who shot presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. However, the writer also used himself as an inspiration. Prior to writing the screenplay Schrader was in a lonely and alienated position, much like Bickle. Following a divorce and a break-up with a live-in girlfriend, he spent a few weeks living in his car. He wrote the script in under a month while staying in his former girlfriend's apartment while she was away.

Schrader decided to make Bickle a Vietnam vet because the national trauma of the war seemed to blend perfectly with Bickle’s paranoid psychosis making his experiences after the war more intense and threatening. Thus, Bickle chooses to drive his taxi anywhere in the city as a way to feed his hate.[3]

While preparing for his role as Bickle, De Niro was filming Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 in Italy. According to Boyle, he would "finish shooting on a Friday in Rome...get on a plane...[and] fly to New York." De Niro obtained a cab driver's license, and when on break would pick up a cab and drive around New York for a couple of weeks, before returning to Rome to resume filming 1900. De Niro apparently lost 35 pounds and listened repeatedly to a taped reading of the diaries of Arthur Bremer. When he had time off from shooting 1900, De Niro visited an army base in Northern Italy and tape recorded soldiers from the Midwestern United States, whose accents he thought might be appropriate for Travis's character.

When Bickle determines to assassinate Senator Palantine, he cuts his hair into a Mohawk. This detail was suggested by actor Victor Magnotta, a friend of Scorsese's who had a small role as a Secret Service agent and who had served in Vietnam. Scorsese later noted, "Magnotta had talked about certain types of soldiers going into the jungle. They cut their hair in a certain way; looked like a Mohawk... and you knew that was a special situation, a commando kind of situation, and people gave them wide berths ... we thought it was a good idea."

Jodie Foster was not the first choice to play Iris. Scorsese considered Melanie Griffith, Linda Blair, Bo Derek, and Carrie Fisher for the role. A newcomer, Mariel Hemingway, auditioned for the role, but turned it down due to pressure from her family. After the other actresses turned down the role, Foster - an experienced child actor - was chosen.

In the original draft Schrader had written the role of Sport as a black man. There were also additions of other negative black roles. Scorsese believed that this would give the film an overly racist subtext so they were changed to white roles, although the film implies that Travis himself is a racist. Cab drivers in the film refer to Harlem as Mau Mau land, and Travis exchanges hostile eye contact with several black characters. Schrader's set the film in Los Angeles; it was moved to New York City because taxis were much more prevalent there than in L.A. during the 1970s.


Taxi Driver
Soundtrack album by Bernard Herrmann
Released 1998
Genre Soundtracks
Label Arista
Professional reviews

The reviews parameter has been deprecated. Please move reviews into the “Reception” section of the article. See Moving reviews into article space.

The music by Bernard Herrmann was his final score before his death on December 24, 1975, and the film is dedicated to his memory. Robert Barnett of MusicWeb International has said that it contrasts deep, sleazy noises representing the "scum" that Travis sees all over the city with the saxophone, a musical counterpart of Travis, creating a mellifluously disenchanted troubadour. Barnett also observes that the opposing noises in the soundtrack — gritty little harp figures — are as hard as shards of steel as well as a jazz drum-kit placing the drama in the city – indicative of loneliness while surrounded by people. Deep brass and woodwind are also evident. Barnett heard in the drumbeat a wild-eyed martial air charting the pressure on Bickle, who is increasingly oppressed by the corruption around him, and that the harp, drum and saxophone play extremely significant roles in all this music.[4]

The soundtrack for the film, re-released in 1998 on CD, includes an expanded version of the score as well as the re-recorded tracks from the original 1976 LP. It also features album notes by director Martin Scorsese, as well as full documentation for the tracks linking them in great detail to individual takes.

Track 12, "Diary of a Taxi Driver", features Herrmann's music with Robert De Niro's voiceover taken direct from the soundtrack.

Also featured in the film is Jackson Browne's "Late for the Sky", appearing in a scene where couples are dancing on the program American Bandstand to the song as Travis watches on his small TV.

Track listing

Some of the tracks feature relatively long titles, representative of the fact that similar reprises are heard in many scenes.

  1. Main Title
  2. Thank God for the Rain
  3. Cleaning the Cab
  4. I Still Can't Sleep/They Cannot Touch Her (Betsy's Theme)
  5. Phone Call/I Realise how much She is Like the Others/A Strange Customer/Watching Palantine on TV/You're Gonna Die in Hell/Betsy's Theme/Hitting the Girl
  6. The .44 Magnum is a Monster
  7. Getting into Shape/Listen you Screwheads/Gun Play/Dear Father & Mother/The Card/Soap Opera
  8. Sport and Iris
  9. The $20 Bill/Target Practice
  10. Assassination Attempt/After the Carnage
  11. A Reluctant Hero/Betsy/End Credits
  12. Diary of a Taxi Driver
  13. God's Lonely Man
  14. Theme from Taxi Driver
  15. I Work the Whole City
  16. Betsy in a White Dress
  17. The Days do not End
  18. Theme from Taxi Driver (reprise)


The climactic shoot-out was considered intensely graphic at the time it was initially released.[5] To attain an "R" rating, Scorsese had the colors desaturated, making the brightly colored blood less prominent.[6] In later interviews, Scorsese commented that he was actually pleased by the color change and he considered it an improvement over the originally filmed scene, which has been lost. However, in the special edition DVD, Michael Chapman, the film's cinematographer, regrets the decision and the fact that no print with the unmuted colors exists any more, as the originals had long since deteriorated.

Some critics expressed concern over 13-year-old Jodie Foster's presence during the climactic shoot-out. However, Foster stated that she was present during the setup and staging of the special effects used during the scene; the entire process was explained and demonstrated for her, step by step. Rather than being upset or traumatized, Foster said, she was fascinated and entertained by the behind-the-scenes preparation that went into the scene. In addition, before being given the part, Foster was subjected to psychological testing to ensure that she would not be emotionally scarred by her role, in accordance with California Labor Board requirements.[7]

Copies of the movie for showing by TV stations had a curious disclaimer added during the closing credits.[8][9] The reasoning behind adding it is not entirely clear.

The disclaimer read: "TO OUR TELEVISION AUDIENCE: In the aftermath of violence, the distinction between hero and villain is sometimes a matter of interpretation or misinterpretation of facts. TAXI DRIVER suggests that tragic errors can be made. The Filmmakers".

John Hinckley, Jr.

Taxi Driver formed part of the delusional fantasy of John Hinckley, Jr.[10][11] which triggered his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, an act for which he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.[12][13] Hinckley stated that his actions were an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, on whom Hinckley was fixated, by mimicking Travis's mohawked appearance at the Palantine rally. His attorney concluded his defense by playing the movie for the jury.

Interpretations of the ending

Roger Ebert has written of the film's ending:

"There has been much discussion about the ending, in which we see newspaper clippings about Travis's 'heroism' of saving Iris, and then Betsy gets into his cab and seems to give him admiration instead of her earlier disgust. Is this a fantasy scene? Did Travis survive the shoot-out? Are we experiencing his dying thoughts? Can the sequence be accepted as literally true? ... I am not sure there can be an answer to these questions. The end sequence plays like music, not drama: It completes the story on an emotional, not a literal, level. We end not on carnage but on redemption, which is the goal of so many of Scorsese's characters."[14]

James Berardinelli, in his review of the film, argues against the dream or fantasy interpretation, stating:

"Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader append the perfect conclusion to Taxi Driver. Steeped in irony, the five-minute epilogue underscores the vagaries of fate. The media builds Bickle into a hero, when, had he been a little quicker drawing his gun against Senator Palantine, he would have been reviled as an assassin. As the film closes, the misanthrope has been embraced as the model citizen—someone who takes on pimps, drug dealers, and mobsters to save one little girl."[15]

On the Laserdisc audio commentary, Scorsese acknowledged several critics' interpretation on the film's ending being Bickle's dying dream. However, he admitted that the last scene of Bickle glancing at an unseen object implies that he might fall into rage and recklessness in the future, and he is like "a ticking time bomb."[16] Writer Paul Schrader confirms this in his commentary on the 30th anniversary DVD, stating that Travis "is not cured by the movie's end," and that, "he's not going to be a hero next time."[17]


Taxi Driver was a financial success earning $28,262,574 in the United States.[18] Roger Ebert instantly praised it as one of the greatest films he’d ever seen, claiming:

"Taxi Driver" is a hell, from the opening shot of a cab emerging from stygian clouds of steam to the climactic killing scene in which the camera finally looks straight down. Scorsese wanted to look away from Travis's rejection; we almost want to look away from his life. But he's there, all right, and he's suffering.[19]

It was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (De Niro), and received the Palme d'Or, at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.[20] It has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.[21] The film was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best films of all time.[22]

As of 2010, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 98% of critics gave positive reviews.[23]

The July/August 2009 issue of Film Comment polled several critics on the best films to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Taxi Driver placed first above films such as Il Gattopardo, Viridiana, Blowup, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, La Dolce Vita and Pulp Fiction.[24]

In the American Film Institute's top 50 movie villains of all time, Bickle was named the 30th greatest film villain. Empire also ranked him 18th in their "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" poll.[25]


Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, Light Sleeper, and The Walker make up a series referred to variously as the "Man in a Room" or "Night Worker" movies. Screenwriter Paul Schrader (who directed the other three films) has stated that he considers the central characters of the four films to be one character, who has changed as he has aged.[26][27]

Taxi Driver influenced the Charles Winkler film You Talkin' to Me?[28]

Taxi Driver is referenced in the song "Red Angel Dragnet" on The Clash's 1982 record Combat Rock.

Home video releases

The first collector's edition (DVD), released was in 1999 packaged as a single disc edition release. It contained special features such as behind-the-scenes and several trailers including one, for Taxi Driver.

In 2006, a 30th anniversary 2-disc collector's edition was released. The first disc contains the movie itself, two commentaries (one by writer Paul Schrader and the other by Professor Robert Kolker), and trailers. This edition also retains some of the special features from the earlier release on the second disc, as well as some newly-produced documentary material.

A Blu-ray of the film was released on April 5, 2011, in time to commemorate the film's 35th anniversary. It includes the special features from the previous 2-disc collector's edition, plus an audio commentary released in 1991 by director Martin Scorsese for The Criterion Collection, previously released on Laserdisc.

As part of the Blu-ray production, Sony gave the film a full 4K digital restoration, which included scanning and cleaning the original negative (removing emulsion dirt and scratches). Colors were matched to director-approved prints under guidance from Scorsese and director of photography Michael Chapman. An all new lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack was also made from the original stereo recordings by Scorsese's personal sound team.[29][30] The restored print premiered in February 2011 at the Berlin Film Festival, and to promote the Blu-ray, Sony also had the print screened at AMC Theaters nationwide on March 19 and 22.


In late January 2005 a sequel was announced by Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.[31] At a 25th anniversary screening of Raging Bull, De Niro talked about the story of an older Travis Bickle being in development. Also in 2000, De Niro mentioned interest in bringing back the character in conversation with Actors Studio host James Lipton.[32]

At the Berlinale 2010, De Niro, Scorsese, and Lars von Trier announced plans to work on a remake of Taxi Driver. The film will be produced in a similar manner to von Trier's The Five Obstructions.[33]

American Film Institute recognition

American Film Institute recognition




See also


  1. ^ Daniel Ekeroth: SWEDISH SENSATIONSFILMS: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema, (Bazillion Points, 2011) ISBN 978-09796163-6-5.
  2. ^ a b "Scorsese on Scorsese" edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie. 057114103X: series London; Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989. Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1998.3.S39 A3 1989
  3. ^ "Travis gave punks a hair of aggression." The Toronto Star 12 Feb. 2005: H02
  4. ^ Taxi Driver: Music composed by Bernard Hermann Retrieved 15 March 2009.
  5. ^ "a stupid orgy of violence".David Robinson. "Down these mean streets" (The Arts). The Times (London). Friday, August 20, 1976. Issue 59787, col C, p. 7.
  6. ^ Taxi Driver at AllRovi Retrieved 2007-09-16.
  7. ^ Foster interview by Boze Hadleigh (March/June 1992)
  8. ^ "FuzzyMemories.TV - - Taxi Driver - TV Disclaimer Ending" (1982)". FuzzyMemories.TV. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  9. ^,6713377"Taxi Driver Lashes Out at Society". Schenectady Gazette. January 27, 1979. 
  10. ^ Taxi Driver: Its Influence on John Hinckley, Jr.
  11. ^ Taxi Driver by Denise Noe
  12. ^ The John Hinckley Trial & Its Effect on the Insanity Defense by Kimberly Collins, Gabe Hinkebein, and Staci Schorgl
  13. ^ Verdict and Uproar by Denise Noe
  14. ^ Ebert's Review of Taxi Driver 1 January 2004. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  15. ^ ReelViews Movie Review
  16. ^ Taxi Driver Laserdisc Commentary
  17. ^ Taxi Driver Audio Commentary with Paul Schrader
  18. ^ Box Office Mojo - Taxi Driver Retrieved 31 March 2007
  19. ^ "Taxi Driver". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  20. ^ Cannes Film Festival Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  21. ^ Films Selected to The National Film Registry, Library of Congress, 1989–2005 Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  22. ^ The Complete List - ALL-TIME 100 Movies - TIME
  23. ^ Taxi Driver, Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 October 2008
  24. ^ "List of best films to win Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival". Film Society for Lincoln Center. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  25. ^ "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  26. ^ Interview with Paul Schrader, BBC Radio 4's Film Programme, 10 August 2007
  27. ^ Filmmaker Magazine, Fall 1992
  28. ^ New York Times film overview
  29. ^ "Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix - Taxi Driver 35th AE (US BD) in April". Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  30. ^ "From Berlin: 4K 'Taxi Driver' World Premiere". MSN. 
  31. ^ Brooks, Xan (2005-02-05). "Scorsese and De Niro plan Taxi Driver sequel". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  32. ^ Saravia, Jerry. "Taxi Driver 2: Bringing Out Travis". faustus. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  33. ^ Lars Von Trier, Robert DeNiro, and Martin Scorsese Collaborating on New Taxi Driver "Lars Von Trier, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese collaborate on New Taxi Driver". Lars Von Trier, Robert DeNiro, and Martin Scorsese Collaborating on New Taxi Driver. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Taxi Driver — Título Taxi Driver Ficha técnica Dirección Martin Scorsese Producción Julia Phillips Michael Phillips …   Wikipedia Español

  • Taxi Driver — Données clés Réalisation Martin Scorsese Scénario Paul Schrader Acteurs principaux Robert De Niro Jodie Foster Albert Brooks Harvey Keitel Leonard Harris Peter Boyle Cybill Shepherd …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Taxi driver — Réalisation Martin Scorsese Acteurs principaux Robert De Niro Jodie Foster Albert Brooks Harvey Keitel Leonard Harris Peter Boyle Cybill Shepherd Scénario Paul Schrader Musique Bernard Herrmann …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Taxi Driver —    Drame de Martin Scorsese, avec Robert De Niro (Travis), Cybill Shepherd (Betsy), Jodie Foster (Iris), Albert Brooks (Tom), Peter Boyle (Wizard), Harvey Keitel (Sport).   Scénario: Paul Schrader   Photographie: Michael Chapman   Décor: Charles… …   Dictionnaire mondial des Films

  • Taxi Driver — [Taxi Driver] a US film (1976) which was the first big success for Martin Scorsese, who directed it, and the actor Robert De Niro. It won the prize for the best film at the Cannes Film Festival. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, an ordinary New York… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Taxi Driver — es una película famosa dirigida por Martin Scorsese en 1976. Es un retrato de un ex combatiente de Vietnam que sufre desórdenes mentales al ser progresivamente alejado por la sociedad. ● Título original:Taxi Driver ● País:Estados Unidos ●… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Taxi Driver — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Taxi Driver Produktionsland Vereinigte Staaten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Taxi Driver — Сюда перенаправляется запрос Таксист. На тему «Таксист» нужна отдельная статья. Таксист Taxi Driver …   Википедия

  • Taxi Driver — a US film (1976) which was the first big success for Martin Scorsese, who directed it, and the actor Robert De Niro. It won the prize for the best film at the Cannes Film Festival. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, an ordinary New York taxi driver who …   Universalium

  • taxi-driver — taxˈi driver noun • • • Main Entry: ↑taxi …   Useful english dictionary