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Taxi Driver

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Joseph Ebert

on 15 February 2015

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Transcript of Taxi Driver

TAXI Driver
Genre and Rating
Crime fiction

To attain an "R" rating instead of an “X”, Scorsese (the director) had the colors desaturated, making the brightly colored blood less prominent.
Background Information
Lighting & Sound
Setbacks & Challenges
Box Office Results
Brought to you by:
Background Information
Release Date
February 8, 1976
Phillip M. Goldfarb
Julia Phillips
Michael Phillips

Martin Scorsese

Paul Schrader

Italo/Judeo Productions

Columbia Pictures Corporation

Juliet Taylor
According to IMDb is credited for 106 different films
From Schindler’s List to To Rome with Love
Robert De Niro

Jodie Foster

Albert Brooks

Harvey Keitel

Leonard Harris

Peter Boyle

Cybill Shepherd
$1.3 million
Running Time
113 Minutes
Professional rating: 4 ½ stars

$21,100,000 in the United States

17th Highest Grossing film in 1976

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 ensconce themselves on the back seat floor and use available light to shoot.
Background Music
Bernard Herrmann

Known for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Vertigo (1958)

Died just hours after he scored Taxi Driver

Composed 10 tracks


Smooth Jazz

Deep, sleazy noises representing the “scum”

Places the drama on the city

Insomniac Vietnam vet
Isolated man
Almost no talking
Constant stream of borderline psychopathic rage with tics and twitches


De Niro studied how mentally ill people behave to portray Travis Bickle as precisely as possible.
Very serious and deliberate tone and actions
Method acting
driving an actual cab 12 hours a day for a month

“It is to the actor's credit that he can involve us so deeply with this person's disequilibrium and rage. De Niro doesn't allow us to distance or disassociate ourselves from this character.” -Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
(Robert De Niro)
Juvenile prostitute

Acts older and tougher than she really is.

While she was the one who ran away, she makes you feel sorry for her situation because she is so young and confused and manipulated by Sport (the pimp)

To prepare for the role of Iris the prostitute, Scorsese studied a real prostitute.

(Jodie Foster)

Untouched beauty of Bickle’s desires

Plays an innocent character who just wants to give him a chance but makes him work for it.

Beautiful and young and uses people for own gain because of it

Worked at the campaign headquarters of Presidential candidate Charles Palatine (Leonard Harris).


(Cybill Shepherd)
Scorsese plays himself as an unsettled passenger, with a thing for the Magnum .44

Wants to kill his wife for cheating on him.

Man who peaks Travis’ interest in guns.

Mysterious Man
(Martin Scorsese)

Rehearsed with actual pimps to prepare for the role

(Harvey Keitel)

Much of the dialogue (including the legendary “…You talkin’ to me?”) was improvised.

“You talkin’ to me” scene idea came to De Niro after one of his acting coaches used it in lessons.

Minimal dialogue and considered silences worked to enhance certain points of the film.

The scene where Sport and Iris are dancing is also completely improvised.

Great film critic, Roger Ebert has noted that the line "Well, I'm the only one here" echoes the central theme of the film, loneliness. Travis is so lonely that he is the only one there, forced to speak to his reflection.

Interesting facts

Travis Bickle: “The days go on and on... they don't end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go.”

Travis Bickle: “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…”
Quotes about “Loneliness”

Travis Bickle: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”

Travis Bickle: “She was wearing a white dress. She appeared like an angel. Out of this filthy mess, she is alone.”

Quotes about “Cleanliness”

Mystery Man: “You ever see what a .44 Magnum pistol could do to a woman’s p****. That you should see.”

Travis Bickle: “You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the h*** else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the f*** do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? OK.”

Quotes about “Violence”
Weekend Gross
$116,458 (USA) (19 February 1996) (8 Screens)

$28,262,574 (USA) (31 December 1996)
$27,300,000 (USA) (31 December 1977)
$21,100,000 (USA) (31 December 1976)
AUD 130,040 (Australia) ( March 1996)
HKD 515,736 (Hong Kong) ( 1977)
ITL 456,400,000 (Italy) ( 1981)
SEK 6,283,970 (Sweden)

Other Films realeased that Year

Nominated for four Oscars
Best picture
Best actor in a leading role
Best actress in a supporting role
Best music-original score

Nominated for two Golden Globes
Best motion-picture actor for a drama
Best screenplay for a motion-picture

Nominated for one Grammy
Best album of original score written for a motion-picture or television special

Won 26 awards
Best director (Cannes Film Festival)
Best actor, best music, new generation award (Jodie Foster and Martin Scorsese) at Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

American Film Institute
Ranked movie as #52 Greatest Movie of All Time

The New York Times- Vincent Canby
Gave film 8 out of 10

Chicago Sun- Roger Ebert
Gave film 10 out of 10

San Francisco Chronicle- Mark LaSalle
Gave film 10 out of 10
20 years after film’s release

Setbacks and Challenges
Jodie Foster’s Age
Because she was 12, a body double was required for the more explicit scenes

Cybill Shepherd/Robert De Niro Coffee House Scene
Shepherd had a really hard time remembering her lines and the editors ended up with a lot of unusable footage

Final Scene
Took particularly long

X Rating
MPAA threatened an X rating because of the bloody shooting scene
The changes Scorsese made to the shootout to avoid the X rating made the scene more shocking than it was intended to be

John Hinkley’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan
Inspired by Travis’s idea to assassinate the presidential candidate

Prostitute who Jodie Foster’s character is based on appears in the movie

Scorsese X Rating Rumors
Rumored that he had a loaded gun and was prepared to shoot the executive of Colombia
Also rumored that he wanted to take his own life, not the executive’s
Rumored that he DID take the gun to Colombia and threatened the executive until the executive caved

All the President’s Men
Logan’s Run
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Bad News Bears”
Box Office Results
Lighting and Sound
Casting Iris
Melanie Griffith
Linda Blair
Jodie Foster

Casting Travis
Was originally written with Jeff Bridges in mind
Neil Diamond was also considered
Scorsese offered role to Dustin Hoffman, who turned it down
Robert De Niro
What didn't Work
Continuity errors
Shifty eyes
Take you out of the film
Unnecessarily vulgar comments
Other cab drivers
Unnecessary characters

What did Work
Set the tone
Improvised scenes
Background music
Product placement
Martin Scorsese
Michael Chapman
Camera Angles and Techniques
Worked directly with one another

Scorsese was very particular in how he wanted the scenes to look

panning and zooming

cutaways of the streets

bird's eye view

point of view shots
holding gun
many noticeable continuity errors

Sleeves towards the end of the film

First shooting scene
Cutting (Editing)
Tom Rolf

Melvin Shapiro

You Talkin' to Me


Slow Motion
Close Ups
often used throughout the film

exposition - eyes

emphasizes emotion of the character
City scenes to seem more realistic
Drove around the city to with a camera

Off - Center Shots

Long Shots
Uncommon at the time
Calling Betsy scene

Thank you for your time!

Any Questions?
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