Released on February 8th, 1976, Taxi Driver has surpassed its 40th anniversary and, as a film, is still being dissected and analyzed to this very day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise because of its excellence as a whole; however, to be relevant for such a long period of time is a testament to director Martin Scorsese’s vision and actor Robert De Niro’s incredible transformation into the unhinged psyche of New York cabbie Travis Bickle, who just might be the most fascinating movie character of the 1970s. There was no other actor who could have portrayed Bickle, and Scorsese’s direction guided De Niro’s character through an uncompromising journey, which includes his goal of dispatching the scum off of the New York City streets, his desire for a beautiful campaign worker, and to become a protector for a 12-year-old prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster).
As intense of a character study Mean Streets was three years earlier, De Niro and Scorsese’s second collaboration in Taxi Driver was taken to the nth degree and was arguably the most controversial film of its time. But the filmmaking industry was destined to take the shocking realism of Taxi Driver and bring it tenfold to unsuspecting audiences worldwide. It certainly worked, as Taxi Driver brought in over $28.3 million domestically, along with its budget of only $1.3 million. Regarding the greatest films ever made, Taxi Driver is without a doubt in the same class as The Godfather, Chinatown, and Raging Bull. It will forever remain a fan favorite for as long as there’s a place in this world for classic cinema achievements.
As a longtime fan of old-school films, Taxi Driver remains one of my all-time favorites, and I can’t think of too many movies rivaling its legendary theatrical poster. The cartoon-esque artwork, with Travis Bickle overlooking New York City, is one of the most memorable images in movie-poster history. There are also many additional Taxi Driver posters, including the infamous mohawk donned by Bickle in the second act of the film, and from that scene onward is a panic attack on the senses of movie-goers. But I mean that in the best possible way.