It was while Taxi Driver was in post-production that the Daily News ran the headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” The movie is Scorsese’s hometown farewell (a love letter quite different from Woody Allen’s). Like Nero, he torches the joint and picks up his lyre. Taxi Driver is a vision of a world that already knows it is lost. A third of a century later, the Checker cabs are gone, as are the taxi garages at the end of 57th Street and the all-night Belmore cafeteria. Times Square has been sanitized, the pestilent combat zone at Third Avenue and 13th Street where Iris peddles her underage charms has long since been gentrified. New York is no longer the planet’s designated Hell on Earth. (Six years after Taxi Driver , Blade Runner would dramatize a new urban space.)

No nostalgia, though: In other aspects, the world of Taxi Driver is recognizably ours. Libidinal politics, celebrity worship, sexual exploitation, the fetishization of guns and violence, racial stereotyping, the fear of foreigners—not to mention the promise of apocalyptic religion—all remain. Taxi Driver lives. See it again. And try to have a nice day.

Checkered past: De Niro drives angry.
Sony Pictures Repertory
Checkered past: De Niro drives angry.

Details

Taxi Driver
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Sony Pictures Repertory
Film Forum, March 18 through 31

jhoberman@villagevoice.com

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13 comments
Lk1150
Lk1150

I think this review is actually depicts the movie and its meaning quite accurately. The taxi driver does live in a different world because he sees a different world - he works all through the night when the danger and not so glamorous lifestyle of NYC emerges. He experiences things that typical "day time" New Yorkers don't. In a way, it can be said he has it harder than most because he lives through the filth and the dirt and is forced to communicate with a great number of people, some of which are pleasant, but many who are often not. It would be interesting to be a taxi driver for a day, and get a whole new outlook on the city and its residents.

That Guy
That Guy

Just rewatched and I felt that it was overrated. Hermann's score has aged poorly. And the supposedly ironic ending is just a stunt that ends up torpedoing the whole movie, essentially turning it into a superhero origin flick like "Unbreakable".

Szknyc
Szknyc

OK I don't care about what it grossed. What I like about the film is it's deep honesty about a TRAVIS a lonely man. A vet that is just drifting and searching to be part of something. A marine that is lost in the 70's. So he decides to become a taxi drive because he can't sleep and also it is the only job an uneducated man can find. He does not have an education or a life structure.So he only sees the streets at night. The anger, crimes, drugs, hookers, pimps, wackos and he only downtime is in a porn theatre. This guy is about to explode. He is let down by the system that he returns to and sees hope in BESTY but it does not work because he does not know how to make it work. Then He finds hope looking to rescue IRIS a 12 year old hooker. He can only relate to that. The risk, the guns, a battle and rescue gives him something to look forward to that he as a vet is already familar with. TAXI DRIVER really gives you the meaning morbid self attention and perhaps false hope that can change yourself. It also reveals what men in the 70's were really feeling, alone and angry that is why this film mean a lot to many. It is honest portray of a drifter that stood up and took the law into his own hands after the war and after returning to the world only to find another jungle in the New York City Streets. You cheer for him but at the same time you feel like you have been violated. Paul Schrader wrote a great script and Scorsese directed one of the best films ever made. Is Travis a hero or a vilian?

Dfasdfas
Dfasdfas

I dispute the commenter saying Cybil's role was unnecessary. Her mock Burns and Allen-style dialogue with Albert Brooks seemed to parody the male/female role playing in fast-talking Hollywood movies from this starchy, white zone of the candidate's office. Travis circled that whitened mid-town temple like a shark, determined by fate to pierce the stagey, rote, self-satisfied bubble that his goddess inhabited. This may be the most American movie of all time.

Sakara
Sakara

ps....MARATHON MAN was number 10 in 1976----at a mere almost 22 million dollars.....which means TAXI DRIVER made somewhere under 22 million dollars in 1976.

"albert brooks became a significant film maker in his own rights"

hahahaha!!!!!

ha!

Sakara
Sakara

wow, the 12th top grossing movie of 1976...!!!

THE BAD NEWS BEARS....SILENT MOVIE...MIDWAY...wer also big hits in 1976---though ROCKY was the number one hit of 1976.

and TAXI DRIVER is just a arty reworking of DEATH WISH and THE NEW CENTURIANS.

This VV 35th anniversary review is even bigger bullshit than the movie itself.

kjs
kjs

Highly flawed screenplay.Cybil Sheppard's role still is out of place and out of reality.

clipper_ship
clipper_ship

I think the ending of Taxi Driver was fantasy - simply how Bickle wanted everything to end up, how he wanted/believed he would be perceived in society. The movie leaves this vague on purpose - we're still supposed to question whether or not the end is real or a flight of fancy on Bickle's end. I'm going to go with the latter.

Sojourner
Sojourner

That's a hell of a lot better review than Hoberman's load of utterly pretentious crap.

SAKARA
SAKARA

travis is paul kersey from DEATH WISH.

Sakara
Sakara

The most american movie that ripped off french and italian movies, with lots of reviewers and schrader name dropping 'diary of a country priest"

Dfasdfas
Dfasdfas

That's movie love, Sakara - references, suggestions from other works. That's what art is. Taxi Driver is hardly a rehash of anything.

 

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