Driven by Passion — 6 years ago
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
I decided that in 2007 I wanted to see the rest of the movies on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movies” best list. I found that I’d already seen 47 of them, so I put as many as I could find at Peerflix.com on my wishlist there (a way to trade DVD’s that you’ve seen for ones that you haven’t) and then went to ColumbiaHouse.com to buy the rest. One of the films I bought for my son, the prospective screenwriter, was Taxi Driver and we watched it before he had to head back to Hollywood U.
Taxi Driver (1976) is the story of Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), recently back to the States from the Viet Nam war, directed by a young Martin Scorsese (who gets in a quick cameo ala’ Hitchcock by being a drunken passenger in Travis’s taxi).Travis is bored, can’t sleep, and is looking for something to make his life special. To that end, he decides to drive a taxi in New York City, taking as many shifts, in as many places as the dispatcher can give him. He spies a woman as lovely as a vision while out driving and decides that Betsy (Cybil Shepherd) a campaign worker is the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, he finds himself in a nightmare when she spurns him after he takes her to a porno on their first date. Now he wants to be somebody special and have his goddess. He gets tangled up with a young runaway, Iris (Jodie Foster) as they keep bumping into each other and he decides to save her from her chosen profession as a hooker.
The story itself reminds me of several French films I’ve seen like Bob, Le Flambeur where there is a lot of talk, a small amount of action, and (without spoiling the plot) not a lot to show for it when all is said and done. But that’s the way of life. One of the interesting ironies is that Travis expends a lot of energy to get Betsy to date him, only to take her to a sleazy movie while at the same time expending the same amount of energy tracking down Iris and then paying her so that she’ll listen to him preach to her about getting out of her sleazy situation. Because of his efforts with Iris, he becomes worthy of Betsy’s attention.
Taxi Driver is notable for several reasons: it is the first of several collaborations with Scorsese, DeNiro and Harvey Keitel; it spawned that interesting “you lookin’ at me” monologue that others try to quote; and in a twisted honor to Jodie Foster and her character, John Hinkley Jr. tried to assassinate President Reagan.
I loved seeing such a young DeNiro. I loved all the dark and light and rain washing away the dirt. It was a harsh look at people trying to get by, but it all worked