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| With: Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Albert Brooks, Martin Scorsese |
| Written by: Paul Schrader |
| Directed by: Martin Scorsese |
| MPAA Rating: R |
| Running Time: 113 |
| Date: 07/02/1976 |
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Talkin' to Me
By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver is acclaimed for its gritty realism, but it has an equal amount of cinematic reverie; screenwriter Paul Schrader contributed just as much to the film's Dostoyevskian vision. Its famous "overhead" murder shot and the steam rising from the sewer grates add up to a unique visual poetry.
Robert De Niro stars as Travis Bickle, a war veteran (though the war is hardly mentioned) who lands a job as a nighttime New York City cab driver. Despite his disturbing issues with women and a self-righteous streak, De Niro makes Travis one of the most compelling characters in cinema history. He attempts to woo a high-class campaign worker, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), at the headquarters for Senator Palantine (Leonard Harris). When that fails he channels his energy into rescuing a teenage hooker (Jodie Foster) and becomes obsessed with the Senator.
Scorsese populates the rest of the cast with memorable characters: Albert Brooks as an emasculated colleague of Betsy's, Peter Boyle as another, cheerier cabbie, and Harvey Keitel as a smooth-talking pimp. Aside from De Niro, however, it's Foster who comes across as the most frighteningly memorable, with her pint-sized intelligence and ferocity. Scorsese himself of course appears as a psychotic passenger.
The great Bernard Herrmann provided the seedy jazz score -- the first time in years that a director did not ask him to copy his work with Hitchcock. Michael Chapman was the DP.