Film Forum is currently presenting “Ford to City: Drop Dead — New York in the ’70s,” a series devoted to the classic, history-making movies made during some of the city’s darkest years. To celebrate the retrospective, we are sharing some of the stories and reviews that ran in the Village Voice during that time.
Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Taxi Driver might just be the greatest New York film of the Seventies. It was made during some of the city’s darkest days — there was a garbage strike and a heat wave during production, and Scorsese was in the edit room when the famous “Ford to City: Drop Dead” headline ran in the Daily News.
The Village Voice’s Arthur Bell was there on set as the film was being shot all over the crumbling, sweltering city. His piece for the paper included anecdotes from some of the movie’s most notable scenes, including the final confrontation between Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, as well as revealing glimpses of Scorsese and the people around him (including, touchingly, his mother, Catherine). Also making an appearance were the panhandlers and sex workers and other folks who looked on curiously as the cast and crew went about their business.
Interestingly, Bell notes that Scorsese was concerned some would find parallels between the film’s events and the 1972 assassination attempt on George Wallace; instead, in 1981, John Hinckley Jr. would be “inspired” by the movie to shoot then-president Ronald Reagan.
You can read Bell’s story, which ran in the August 18, 1975, issue of the paper, below.