Film of the Day – Taxi Driver (1976) Dir. Martin Scorsese

Synopsis: Travis Bickle 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 Palatine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to 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.

Quote: Travis – “All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.”

What I love about it: A long time ago this was my favourite film. I used to watch it regularly and could quote every line. After a while I discovered better films and haven’t given this a re-watch in some time but it still ranks up there for me as one of the all time greatest movies. Travis Bickle is such an iconic character that I would be surprised if you didn’t recognise him in a photo. Of course there is the famous “You talkin’ to me?” line that gets quoted and more often misquoted, however the film is so much more than that. It is a dark study at the loneliness and isolation of a person and how that affects them inside. Combining that with how he deals with coming back from the war, which has clearly scarred him inside and you get an understanding of why he is this way. The film transcends from a strange, dark, twisted comedy into a violent thriller seamlessly and that is all due to the skill of Martin Scorsese as a filmmaker. He knows how to play a scene and it works so well in this film.

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