Photo by Columbia/TriStar
In February 8 1976, was released the movie ‘Taxi Driver’. The iconic film talks about Travis Bickle, who 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.
Stars: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
Director: Martin Scorsese
To celebrate the 40th anniversary, here are some of the curiosities about this movie.
- Jodie Foster claims that Robert De Niro would regularly phone her up and suggest they have coffee together. They would then rehearse the diner scene over and over to the point where Foster got bored, but still De Niro would insist they continue rehearsing.
- In the coffee and pie scene, Travis orders apple pie with melted cheese. When serial killer Ed Gein was arrested, he asked the police for a slice of apple pie with melted cheese in exchange for a full confession.
- Jodie Foster was 12 years old when the movie was filmed, so she could not do the more explicit scenes. (Her character was also 12 years old.) Connie Foster, Jodie’s 19-year-old sister when the film was produced, was cast as her body double for those scenes.
- Martin Scorsese has said he offered the role of Travis Bickle to Dustin Hoffman.
- According to Hoffman, he turned the role down because he “thought [Scorsese] was crazy!” He has since regretted his decision.
- Very few changes were made to Paul Schrader’s script from the first draft pitched to Martin Scorsese to the final draft. However, the director allowed a great deal of improvisation in the final cut of the film.
- The olive-colored army coat Travis is wearing, is a pre-mid 70’s M65 jacket
Robert De Niro worked fifteen hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role. He also studied mental illness.
- Travis Bickle’s famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene may have been inspired by Robert De Niro’s training under Stella Adler, who (as an exercise) had her students practice different interpretations of a similar phrase. The legendary acting teacher was surprised to see one of her former students use “You talkin’ to me?” as a psychotic mantra. Martin Scorsese was encouraging De Niro just below the camera while shooting the scene, which lead to the rest of the “dialogue” Bickle has with his mirror.
- Before Jodie Foster was eventually cast as Iris, there were more than 250 applicants for the role, including newcomers Carrie Fisher, Mariel Hemingway, Bo Derek, Kim Cattrall, Rosanna Arquette, Kristy McNichol and Michelle Pfeiffer.
- Paul Schrader guessed that the thought of isolated anti-hero being a taxi driver may have been instilled by the Harry Chapin song “Taxi,” which was a big hit at the time.
- Various studios considered producing this film; one suggested Neil Diamond for the lead role.
- Paul Schrader wrote the part of Travis with Jeff Bridges in mind.