Fresh from the success of the mainstream ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANY
MORE, Scorsese returned to his New York street roots, filming a
disturbing script by Paul Schraeder about a lonely, mentally unstable
Although it was a thoughtful, moody character study, the presence of
Robert De Niro plus a violent ending made TAXI DRIVER a surprising box
Some films show how normal
people can slowly
into madness; many of Martin Scorsese's characters are already halfway
there by the opening fade-in. Cab driver Travis Bickle is the
first in a line of several De Niro characters outside of mainstream
humanity who fall further and further out of
touch with life. He would be followed by the likes of Jake La Motta
and Rupert Pupkin (THE KING OF COMEDY). Why we should be so
in madmen is hard to explain, but the combination of Scorsese as
director and De Niro as star is impossible to ignore. By now
was clear that De Niro was a star and a major talent, having dazzled
critics as the hyperactive Johnny Boy in MEAN STREETS and the stoic Don
Corleone in THE GODFATHER PART
2, for which he won an Oscar. His Travis Bickle is yet
outstanding characterization, De Niro capturing depths of loneliness
and despair rarely seen in
films. His fall into complete madness is utterly believable,
the final product - a robotic mohawked killing machine with guns and
knives hidden all over his body - is more frightening than even some of
the actor's later turns in CAPE FEAR (1991) or FRANKENSTEIN (1994).
Scorsese would go on to make more excellent films, but arguably, only RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS (both also starring De Niro) would rival TAXI DRIVER as the director's best ever. Not for all tastes, which should go without saying when we're talking about Martin Scorsese.
"You talkin' to me?... You talkin' to me?... You talkin' to me?... Well, then who the hell else are you talkin' - you talkin' to me?.... Well, I'm the only one here.... Who the f**k do you think you're talking to? Oh, yeah? Yeah? Okay...."
Director Martin Scorsese appears twice in the film. When the Cybil Shepard's character is introduced, Scorsese can easily be spotted in the background watching her. Later, he appears as one of De Niro's passengers, presumably a different character. This unusual double-cameo resulted when the original actor slated to be the passenger was unable to do the scene due to injuries suffered on another film. Scorsese took the part himself, and is excellent as the only character in the film who may be more frightening than Travis Bickle himself.