Monday, March 21, 2011

Taxi Driver

Robert De Niro recapitulates his iconic scene from Taxi Driver, where he fires on imagined enemies, in Raging Bull, where as Jake LaMotta at the end of his career, having lost everything, he stands alone in the dressing room of a theater reinventing himself as a monologist. Martin Scorsese, who has done for modern American film what the ancient Greeks did for drama, himself appears in the film, in a voyeuristic sequence that recalls Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Hitchcock played cameo roles in all his films, and the score for Taxi Driver was composed by Bernard Hermann, who did the scores for Vertigo and Psycho. Taxi Driver’s ensemble—with Albert Brooks, Cybill Shepherd, Leonard Harris (playing the presidential candidate Charles Palantine) and Harvey Keitel and Jodie Foster, playing the hooker/pimp team of Easy and Sport—is the ’70s equivalent of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre. Then there’s the New York of the ’70s, which is itself a character in the film. Remember the Belmore Cafeteria on 28th and Park Avenue South, The Terminal Bar opposite the Port Authority, Variety Photo Plays on 14th and Third, Playland and Fascination on the deuce? And let’s not forget the guns: the .44 Magnum (making a guest appearance after an earlier performance in Dirty Harry), the .38 snub-nose, the .380 Walther, the .25 Colt automatic. Betsy (Cybill Shepherd ) says Travis reminds her of Kris Kristofferson’s lyrics: “He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.” The only thing missing in Scorsese’s masterpiece, which is currently in revival at Film Forum in a new 35mm restoration, is Deney Terrio’s Dance Fever, a glaring absence in a film that defies the categories of both truth and fiction. Richard Donner’s Conspiracy Theory, about an unstable taxi driver (Mel Gibson) obsessed with Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, is only one of many American films that would never have been made without Taxi Driver. In the case of Conspiracy Theory, however, the part got away from the actor playing the lead, and life ended up imitating art.

1 comment:

  1. It's just not really apparent until far into the film that there is a deeper meaning to the title, you get both the figurative and the literal mixed into the pot for this one.Taxi Cyprus


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