Taxi Driver Turns 40
It was 1976 when Martin Scorsese's vigilante and psychological thriller came to the screen. There was no single dedicated date for the worldwide release and in fact screenings of the film were spread across 18 months with some countries such as Spain, Greece and Portugal not seeing the film until March 1977, which makes it in credibly difficult to celebrates its actual 40th anniversary. In the States, the film was released in February 1976, but UK cinema audiences didn't get to see it until September of the same year.
Written by Paul Schrader and set in New York City following the Vietnam War, the film stars Robert De Niro, and features Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Peter Boyle, and Albert Brooks. It is regularly cited by critics, film directors, and audiences alike as one of the greatest films of all time. Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it won the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. The American Film Institute ranked Taxi Driver as the 52nd-greatest American film on its AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) list. The film also ranks #17 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. In 2012, Sight & Sound named it the 31st-best film ever in its decennial critics' poll, ranked with The Godfather Part II, and the fifth-greatest film of all time on its directors' poll. The film was considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the US Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1994.
Glancing through the incredibly long list of trivia on IMDB's website regarding the film, it states that Robert De Niro worked fifteen hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role and also studied mental illness. Paul Schrader, who wrote the script in ten days via two drafts, one after the other. As he was writing, he kept a loaded gun on his desk for motivation and inspiration. Jodie Foster was 12 years old when the movie was filmed, so she could not do the more explicit scenes. Connie Foster, Jodie's older sister who was 19 when the film was produced, was cast as her body double for those scenes. The producers were looking for a "Cybill Shepherd" type to play the female lead in the film. When agent Sue Mengers heard this, she reportedly called them and asked why not hire Cybill Shepherd. Harvey Keitel rehearsed with actual pimps to prepare for his role, and the scene where his character and Iris dance was improvised, and finally, the cab Travis drove was Checker. They stopped production after 1982 and the last one in New York City was retired in 1999.
In April, the original cast and director reunited for a special screening of the film as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.
otsoNY has posted several of the actual film locations from Taxi Driver, most notably the final bloody-scene which took place at 226 East 13th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan. Click HERE for the complete list.
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