Taxi Driver

Production year 1976
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Paul Schrader
Starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd
Running Time 113 mins

This dark and brooding tale of obsession, corruption and revenge is a seminal film in American cinema and was made by one of the finest directors of the 1970s and 80s - Martin Scorsese.

The drama focuses on Travis Bickle, an insomniac Vietnam veteran who drives a taxi on the streets of New York City. Travis is played with extraordinary intensity and edge by Robert De Niro in perhaps the finest and certainly the most famous performance of his career. De Niro had made his name in an earlier film by Scorsese, Mean Streets, and went on do some of his best work with the director.

The screenplay, by Paul Schrader, is harsh and uncompromising. The grainy cinematography uses available light to paint a lurid picture of New York at night and the score, the last to be composed by Hitchcock’s composer Bernard Herrman, is a masterpiece.

Taxi Driver was controversial at the time of release with the then 13-year-old Jodie Foster portraying a child prostitute in the grip of a violent pimp played with terrifying authenticity by Harvey Keitel. The film achieved further notoriety when it became part of the evidence in the trial of John Hinckley - who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan. Hinckley was obsessed with Jodie Foster and identified strongly with the De Niro character.

Taxi Driver won the Palme d’Or at Cannes but was beaten to the best picture Oscar by Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky.