Director Martin Scorsese claims that the most important shot in the movie is when Bickle is on the phone trying to get another date with Betsy. The camera moves to the side slowly and pans down the long, empty hallway next to Bickle, as if to suggest that the phone conversation is too painful and pathetic to bear; this shot also showcases his isolation and loneliness.
Jodie Foster claims that Robert De Niro would regularly phone her up and suggest they have coffee together. They would then rehearse the diner scene over and over to the point where Foster got bored, but still De Niro would insist they continue rehearsing.
Between the time Robert De Niro signed a $35,000 contract to appear in this film, and when it began filming, he won the Oscar for his role in The Godfather: Part II (1974), and his profile soared. The producers were worried that De Niro would ask for a deserved larger pay raise, since Columbia Pictures was very concerned about the project, and were looking for excuses to pull the plug on it, but De Niro said he would honor his original deal so the film would get made.
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.
Robert De Niro worked fifteen hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role. He also studied mental illness, and during his off-time when filming 1900 (1976), visited a US Army base in Northern Italy and tape-recorded conversations with Midwestern soldiers so that he could pick up their accent.
Jodie Foster was twelve years old when the movie was filmed, so she could not do the more explicit scenes (her character was also twelve years old). Connie Foster, Jodie's older sister, who was nineteen when the film was produced, was cast as her body double for those scenes.
When Paul Schrader was first writing the script, he believed that he was just writing about loneliness, but as the process went on, he realized he was writing about the pathology of loneliness. His theory being that, for some reason, some young men (such as Schrader himself) subconsciously push others away to maintain their isolation, even though the main source of their torment is this very isolation.
Robert De Niro has said that despite having won an Oscar for The Godfather: Part II (1974), he was still a relatively unfamiliar face, and was only recognized once while driving a New York cab during his research for this film.
The story was partially autobiographical for Paul Schrader, who suffered a nervous breakdown while living in Los Angeles. He was fired from the AFI, basically friendless, in the midst of a divorce, and was rejected by a girlfriend. Squatting in his ex-girlfriend's apartment while she was away for a couple of months, Schrader literally didn't talk to anyone for many weeks, went to porno theaters, and developed an obsession with guns. Schrader was working at the time as a delivery man for a chain of chicken restaurants. Spending long days alone in his car, he felt, I might as well be a taxi driver. He also shared with Bickle the sense of isolation from being a mid-Westerner in an urban center. Schrader decided to switch the action to New York City only because taxi drivers are far more common there. Schrader's script clicked with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro when they read it.
Bernard Herrmann's wife says that when Martin Scorsese, then relatively unknown, called her famous husband to ask Hermann to do the score, he at first refused saying, "I don't write music for car movies." Hermann only accepted after reading the script, and then wrote a highly original score using dissonant brass to punctuate the inner emotions of Travis. After the initial scoring sessions, Scorsese called his composer again, insisting that he needed one more musical cue, a sting, a single frightening chord. Hermann called back a studio orchestra who were paid a day's work for that one effect. Shortly after that ultimate session, Hermann died at the age of sixty-four. He had begun his film career in Hollywood writing the music for Citizen Kane (1941).
Robert De Niro prepared for the role by working as a late night cab driver in New York City early 1975. One of his fares was a struggling actor who recognized him from The Godfather: Part II (1974). The young actor said to De Niro discouragingly "You just won an Oscar... My God, is it THAT hard to get work??"
The scene where Travis Bickle is talking to himself in the mirror was completely ad-libbed by Robert De Niro. The screenplay details just said, "Travis looks in the mirror." Martin Scorsese claims that he got the inspiration for the scene from Marlon Brando mouthing words in front of a mirror in Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).
John Hinckley's attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan's life (Monday, March 30, 1981) was apparently triggered by Robert De Niro's obsessive character Travis Bickle, and his plot to assassinate a Presidential candidate. Coincidentally, the assassination attempt caused the 53rd Academy Awards ceremonies to be postponed for one day, until Tuesday, March 31, 1981, when De Niro won his Best Actor Oscar for Raging Bull (1980).
Harvey Keitel rehearsed with pimps to prepare for his role. The scene where Sport and Iris (Jodie Foster) dance was improvised, and is one of only two scenes in the film that don't focus on Bickle.
Steven Prince improvised the list of additional illegal things Easy Andy had for sale after Travis buys the guns
Robert De Niro claimed that the final shoot-out scene took particularly long, because of both technical problems, and the humor which arose from the tension created by the carnage in the scene.
In Paul Schrader's original screenplay, the characters of Sport, the Mafioso, and the hotel clerk were all black. Martin Scorsese felt that, combined with other events in the film, this would have stacked the deck too much towards racism, and suggested that those characters be changed to white men. Schrader relented.
Martin Scorsese has said he offered the role of Travis Bickle to Dustin Hoffman. According to Hoffman, he turned the role down because he "thought he (Scorsese) was crazy!" He has since regretted his decision.
Steven Spielberg visited the music recording sessions of this movie to tell composer Bernard Herrmann how much he admired his work. The prickly Herrmann responded, "Oh Yeah? Then why do you always use John Williams for your films?"
Robert De Niro's on-and-off girlfriend in the 1970s, Diahnne Abbott, appears as the concession girl in the porno theater near the beginning of the film.
Producer Julia Phillips told in her autobiography that Cybill Shepherd had a hard time remembering her lines during the coffee-and-pie scene with Robert De Niro. She wrote that De Niro in particular was getting fed up with her, and that Phillips and Editor Marcia Lucas laughed over all the unusable footage they had to work with in the editing room.
In the diner scene, 12-year-old Iris adds sugar to her toast which is already covered in jelly. Some viewers interpret this character trait as Iris still being a kid at heart however this was not the intention. The other hooker who walks the streets with Iris in the film was an actual prostitute whom Jodie Foster shadowed to prepare for her role. The prostitute (played by Garth Avery) was also a heroin addict and one way in which she would quell her addiction was to add extra sugar to her meals. Jodie, being a very young but very observant and intuitive young actress, incorporated this character trait into the scene.
In the coffee and pie scene, Travis orders apple pie with melted cheese. When serial killer Ed Gein was arrested, he asked the police for a slice of apple pie with melted cheese in exchange for a full confession.
Travis Bickle's famous "You talkin' to me?" scene may have been inspired by Robert De Niro's training under Stella Adler, who (as an exercise) had her students practice different interpretations of a similar phrase. The legendary acting teacher was surprised to see one of her former students use "You talkin' to me?" as a psychotic mantra. Martin Scorsese was encouraging De Niro just below the camera while shooting the scene, which led to the rest of the "dialogue" Bickle has with his mirror. Because Travis is such a loner, he's desperate for any interaction even if it's just with his own reflection
The girl with whom Martin Scorsese studied in order to prepare for the role of Iris (Jodie Foster) also appeared in the film, as Iris' friend on the street.
Producer Julia Phillips claimed Martin Scorsese cast Cybill Shepherd as Betsy because of the size of her bottom, which added to her sex appeal. Phillips further revealed that Scorsese and Shepherd had a difficult relationship on-set, with Scorsese having to feed Shepherd line readings to achieve a credible performance.
Bernard Herrmann wasn't going to write the score for this film, but agreed to do it when he saw the scene where Bickle pours Schnapps on his bread. Herrmann died on Christmas Eve of 1975, just a few hours after completing the recording sessions for this film, and the movie was dedicated to his memory.
Harvey Keitel was originally offered the part of the campaign worker, eventually played by Albert Brooks. He decided to take the role as the pimp, even though in the script, he was black, and only had about five lines.
According to Albert Brooks in a conversation he had with Paul Schrader after the film wrapped, Schrader had praised Brooks' performance as Tom, because that was the one character Schrader didn't understand. Brooks was amused at that fact, given that Schrader didn't understand the campaign manager, but did understand Travis Bickle.
Before Jodie Foster was eventually cast as Iris, there were more than two hundred fifty applicants for the role, including newcomers Carrie Fisher, Mariel Hemingway, Bo Derek, Kim Cattrall, Rosanna Arquette, Kristy McNichol, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Brian De Palma was also considered to direct, but the producers were dragged to a private screening of Mean Streets (1973) (Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese's previous collaboration) before they told Scorsese he could direct, but only if he got De Niro to play the lead. De Palma later regretted not directing the film.
Martin Scorsese said that when he filmed his cameo in the backseat of the taxi cab he had to sit on a blanket to be able to be seen over the front seat.
The clash between Martin Scorsese, the MPAA and the executives at Columbia Pictures over the violent content of this film has gone into legend. One of the biggest rumors is that, when facing an X-rating from the MPAA and having to edit the film, Scorsese stayed up all night drinking with a loaded gun in his hand, preparing to shoot the executive at Columbia Pictures the next day. After an entire night of persuasion from his friends, Scorsese decided to mute the colors in the violent climax, and subsequently got his R-rating. There are many variations on this legend, one saying that Scorsese was planning to take his own life; another says that he brought the gun to Columbia Pictures and threatened the executive until the executive relented.
Due to injuries sustained in an accident during the production of The Farmer (1977), George Memmoli had to decline the bit part of Travis' disturbed passenger, who was ultimately played by Martin Scorsese.
Robert De Niro has claimed that the "You talkin' to me?" scene was inspired by Bruce Springsteen's banter with his audience at a mid 1970s gig.
The film was shot on a tight schedule largely on-location in 1974 during a sweltering New York City summer. The conditions of the shoot helped define the film, from the night shooting during a heat wave ("there's an atmosphere at night that's like a seeping kind of virus") to the street shooting during the garbage strike ("everywhere I aimed the camera, there were mounds of garbage").
This was the last Columbia Pictures feature to use the Torch Lady logo in her classic appearance.
In an interview with Roger Ebert upon the film's release, Martin Scorsese called it "my feminist film ... because it takes macho to its logical conclusion. The better man is the man who can kill you. This (movie) shows that kind of thinking, shows the kinds of problems some men have, bouncing back and forth between (their perception of women as) goddesses and whores."
Robert De Niro studied Midwestern dialects to come up with Travis Bickle's flat voice.
Bickle's attempted assassination of Senator Charles Palantine inspired John Hinckley, Jr.'s attempted assassination of U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Prior to the crime, Hinckley had been stalking Jodie Foster at Yale University, due to his obsession with her character Iris in this film. In a letter wrote to Foster, he told her that he was going to assassinate the President, so he could impress her. Reagan was shot in the chest and wounded by Hinckley, Jr., who was committed to a psychiatric facility when he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982. He was released on September 10, 2016, after thirty-four years in confinement.
Before taking on the role of Iris, the teenage prostitute, Jodie Foster was required to attend counseling to make sure someone so young could cope with the demands of the role.
Before becoming a star, Robert De Niro thought about writing a screenplay himself. One of the ideas he had was, in the words of biographer Shawn Levy, "about a lonely man wandering New York City with guns and dreaming of an assassination." It never went any further than the idea stage, but it was an eerie coincidence when De Niro found Paul Schrader and this film a few years later.
At the 31st AFI Life Achievement Awards, Jodie Foster credited Robert De Niro with introducing her to the true craft of acting. He would insist that they'd meet for coffee and rehearse their scenes together at a local diner. After a while, Jodie became bored of the routine until De Niro began improvising lines during their rehearsals. Jodie soon learned to follow his improv as he weaved back and forth to the original script, in essence teaching her how to effectively build a character beyond the screenplay.
Melanie Griffith was originally offered the role of Iris, but her mother Tippi Hedren made her turn down the offer. She was the first choice to play the part.
The line "You talking to me?" was voted as the number ten movie quote by the American Film Institute, and as as the number eight of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
The restaurant where the cabbies gather to eat was a real-life hangout for taxi drivers called the Belmore Cafeteria at 28th Street and Park Avenue South. It has since been demolished, but the apartment building that replaced it is named the Belmore.
Paul Schrader was inspired to write the script after reading the published diary of Arthur Bremer, the man who was convicted of shooting Presidential hopeful George Wallace. Eerily, Bremer was twenty-six-years-old in 1976 (the year the film was released), the same age as Travis Bickle in the film, and Schrader was twenty-six when he first wrote the screenplay, in 1972.
Very few changes were made to Paul Schrader's script from the first draft pitched to Martin Scorsese to the final draft. However, Scorsese allowed a great deal of improvisation in the final cut of the film.
Paul Schrader decided to make Bickle a Vietnam veteran because the national trauma of the war seemed to blend perfectly with Bickle's paranoid psychosis, making his experiences after the war more intense and threatening. Thus, Bickle chooses to drive his taxi anywhere in the city as a way to feed his hatred.
Columbia Pictures wanted the entirety of the climactic shoot-out cut from the film, due to its graphic violence. When Martin Scorsese became frantic that the studio was attempting to sabotage his film, he showed his friend, Steven Spielberg, the scene out of context without the rest of the film. Afterward, Spielberg agreed the scene was brilliant, and that cutting the scene would be detrimental. It was shortly after this meeting that Scorsese got the idea to de-saturate the color in the scene as seen in the final film.
Robert De Niro, having just broken out with The Godfather: Part II (1974), was being offered five hundred thousand dollars to star in other films, but did this for thirty-five thousand dollars. Paul Schrader agreed to take about the same amount for his screenplay, despite having just sold another one (The Yakuza (1974)) for ten times that amount. The rest of the main cast and Martin Scorsese also worked for less than normal. Cybill Shepherd took thirty-five thousand dollars; and Scorsese made sixty-five thousand dollars. The total budget was around 1.8 million dollars, of which, less than two hundred thousand dollars went to talent salaries.
Oliver Stone believes he was one of the models for Travis Bickle, pointing out that he was being taught by Martin Scorsese at New York University film school at the time, and like Travis, he was a Vietnam veteran turned New York City cabdriver, and wore his olive drab Army coat while on-duty.
Around the time Tony Bill was considering directing the movie, the Paul Schrader script was sent to Al Pacino, but he declined the role. Julia Phillips never knew whether Pacino declined the role because he didn't like the script, or because he didn't want to work with Bill.
Uncredited Tom Scott delivered the dominant, haunting alto saxophone solos over the Bernard Herrmann score.
The character of Tom originally had very few lines in the script, but Albert Brooks worked with Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader in fleshing out the role. Brooks was also allowed to improvise during filming.
DIRECTOR CAMEO (Martin Scorsese): Sitting down, behind Betsy as she walks into the Palantine campaign headquarters in slow-motion.
Bernard Herrmann's score is intentionally devoid of strings, giving the overall thrust of the soundtrack more "muscle."
The soundtrack recording sessions for this movie were held in Burbank, California on December 22 and December 23, 1975. Composer Bernard Herrmann was terminally ill with heart disease, and could not conduct the orchestra himself. That task was given to veteran Arranger and Conductor Jack Hayes, while Herrmann directed from the control booth. A few hours after the sessions wrapped, on the morning of December 24, Herrmann died in his sleep at the Sheraton Universal Hotel. His daughter Dorothy recalled, "I knew he was dying. He was just a shadow of his former self, and it was remarkable that he could have written 'Taxi Driver' under the circumstances. How he did it, I'll never know, but I think it must have had something to do with the fact that he wanted to keep working right up until the end of his life."
When Brian De Palma was attached to the project, he wanted Melanie Griffith to play Iris, but after two weeks of casting, both Griffth and De Palma were fired. Martin Scorsese replaced Griffith with Linda Blair. However, Blair also withdrew, and Scorsese later replaced Blair with Jodie Foster, but there were more than two hundred applicants for the role. Scorsese said that Jodie had the ability to play a twelve-year-old prostitute.
When Travis calls Betsy from a payphone to apologize for having taken her to a porno movie (Language of Love (1969)), he makes that call from the lobby of The Ed Sullivan Theater (1697 Broadway).
While filming the movie near Times Square, Martin Scorsese shot footage of protesters throwing smoke bombs at a theater that was screening Coonskin (1974), He sent the footage to Ralph Bakshi, who said of it "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry."
In Paul Schrader's original screenplay, Iris was named Garth and had an attention span of about twenty seconds. He re-wrote her character after inadvertently picking up an underage prostitute. He later sent Martin Scorsese a note saying "Iris is in my room. We're having breakfast at nine. Will you please join us?"
Martin Scorsese's mother Catherine Scorsese was supposed to have a cameo as a passenger in one of the scenes in Travis' taxi. Her cameo was eventually cut out of the film because the length of the movie was becoming too long.
The cab Travis drove was a 1975 Checker. They stopped production after 1982, and the last one in New York City was retired in 1999. De Niro's temporary hack number was: 265216. The official taxicab driver's license issued by New York City had an expiration date of May 31, 1976.
Even though then twelve-year-old Jodie Foster played a very adult role in the movie, she would have been ineligible to attend the premiere unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian, due to the R-rating.
Robert De Niro thought of Travis Bickle as a crab, indirect and tended to shift from side to side.
The film's most famous musical theme, the sensuous, saxophone-driven "So Close to Me Blues," was only partly composed by Bernard Herrmann. Martin Scorsese wanted a smooth jazz cue to underscore a scene with Iris and her pimp "Sport." Jazz was not Herrmann's forte, so he asked his friend Christopher Palmer to arrange something from his existing material. Palmer took the first four bars of the song "As the Wind Bloweth" from Hermann's 1970 musical "The King of Schnorrers," expanded the melodic line with a jazzy twist, and gave the piece a new title. Herrmann was so pleased with the result, he made it a recurring motif throughout the film.
In the lyrics to their song "Red Angel Dragnet", long-running British rock band The Clash mention Travis by name, and then include two Travis quotes: "one of these days I'm gonna get myself organized," and, "all the animals come out at night: queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal, some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets."
When Martin Scorsese agreed to direct, he brought Robert De Niro on-board with him, much to the delight of Julia Phillips. Much less delightful was that De Niro was committed to making Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976), and when he left for Italy, Scorsese committed to Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974).
Other actors considered for the role of Travis Bickle were Jeff Bridges, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Burt Reynolds, Ryan O'Neal, Peter Fonda, Al Pacino, Jon Voight, Robert Blake, David Carradine, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Walken, Alain Delon, James Caan, Roy Scheider, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Elliott Gould, Alan Alda, and George Hamilton.
Travis has immense difficulty speaking to others and socializing, tends to see people in black and white terms, suffers from insomnia and mentions taking pills in addition to drinking a lot, tries to be charming but often comes across as vaguely creepy instead, has a frightening capacity for violence simmering just below the surface and he is heavily implied to be suicidal. It's been stated by psychologists that Travis likely suffers from Schizotypal personality disorder. That's in addition to the fact that he likely has some level of PTSD from his military service. The fact that he lies to his parents about his life also opens up the possibility of some issues there.
In 2011, Empire Magazine described this movie as "a vivid fever dream we still haven't woke up from."
According to Amy Taubin's book, the character of Iris was partially inspired by Paul Schrader's memory of 1950s Coppertone ads. Jodie Foster had her acting debut in a Coppertone ad when she was three-years-old.
Mia Farrow reportedly wanted the role of Betsy, but Martin Scorsese turned her down.
Jean-Paul Sartre's novel "La Nausée" proved to be a major inspiration for Paul Schrader's script.
Tatum O'Neal was offered the part of Iris, but she turned it down, telling the producers, "It's too small! After all, I am an Oscar winner you know!" Instead she took the role of Amanda Wuerlitzer in The Bad News Bears (1976). Ironically, Jodie Foster was originally offered the role of Amanda, but she turned it down to play Iris. Tatum later said she would have preferred to have played Iris.
The record that Travis buys for Betsy is "The Silver Tongued Devil and I" by Kris Kristofferson. In the restaurant they quote from a song on the album, "Pilgrim Chapter 33" ("he's a prophet...").
Tony Bill, the producing partner of Julia Phillips and her husband Michael Phillips, wanted to make his directorial debut with this movie after Brian De Palma was fired. He was convinced to wait to direct a film more suitable for his sensibilities.
Amongst the unknowns at the time who tried out for the role of Iris were Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Geena Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brooke Shields, and Debra Winger.
According to Robin Askwith's autobiography the main character was given the forename "Travis" after Martin Scorsese saw Malcolm McDowell play "Mick Travis" in If.... (1968).
When Travis is talking to a Secret Service Agent, he gives his address as 154 Hopper Avenue, Fair Lawn, New Jersey. There is a Hopper Avenue in Fair Lawn, but there is no 154 Hopper Avenue.
After seeing "every blonde in town", Producer Julia Phillips still preferred Farrah Fawcett over Cybill Shepherd for the role of Betsy.
Paul Schrader guessed that the thought of isolated anti-hero being a taxi driver may have been instilled by the Harry Chapin song "Taxi," which was a big hit at the time.
As Robert De Niro and Cybill Shepherd walk past him, the street drummer says "now back to Gene Krupa syncopated style." This line was sampled by British band Apollo Four Forty for their song "Krupa." The track appeared on their 1997 album "Electro Glide in Blue."
Although Harvey Keitel's character is referred to as 'Matthew' or 'Sport' throughout the film, according to the text in the newspaper clippings seen at the end, his true name is Charles Rain.
According to Martin Scorsese, the King Kong Patch is meant to symbolize the fact that Travis Bickle is like King Kong trying to save Fay Wray in King Kong (1933). Like King Kong, he doesn't really understand what he's doing; King Kong is the one threatening Wray to begin with (although he doesn't realize it), and Travis is doing the same thing to Betsy. He thinks she's a lonely person he wants to connect with, but he goes about interacting with her in a totally crazy way.
The shot of Travis putting a tablet into a glass of water and the overhead angle watching it slowly dissolve is an allusion to a famous scene in Jean-Luc Godard's 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967). Likewise, the opening sequence of Travis driving with his eyes reflected in the rear-view mirror is a shout out to Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place (1950).
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #52 Greatest Movie of All Time.
Cybill Shepherd turned down the chance to appear in Nickelodeon (1976) in order to accept the role of Betsy.
Many of Bernard Herrmann's cues for this film were either unused, or used in the wrong scenes.
This film draws many parallels with serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam." He and Travis were mentally ill ex-soldiers who were disgusted by what they saw as the degradation of mid 1970's New York City, both were insomniacs, both used .44 caliber revolvers, and Berkowitz worked as a taxi driver before famously joining the Post Office. Although Berkowitz had already committed non-fatal stabbings and arson before the release of the film in February 1976, he did not begin his shooting spree until several months afterwards. It is unknown whether Berkowitz ever saw this movie.
Rock Hudson was once considered for the role of Charles Palantine. He was not able to due to his commitment to the television series McMillan & Wife (1971).
A nationwide search for a young actress to play the part of Iris was narrowed down to five finalists. Jodie Foster beat Mariel Hemingway, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, and Kristy McNichol.
In 1988, two young girls were killed when out playing on the front stoop of the apartment building at 226 East 13th Street, which features prominently in the ending of the movie following the shoot-out. The building collapsed. Building inspectors at the scene said they had found corroded angle irons under the stoop of the six-story walk-up, which was built around the turn of the century, and most likely gave-in due to age.
Jane Seymour, Glenn Close, and Susan Sarandon also auditioned for the role of Betsy.
In 2005, it was announced that this film was going to be made into a video game and was set for release in 2006. But the video game was canceled and never made it to stores. Only a trailer of the game was released.
The East 41st Street & Tudor City Place intersection, Manhattan, where Travis picks up the 'sick passenger' played by director Martin Scorsese, is also in Scarface (1983), where the bomb is planted underneath the car intended to explode near the UN headquarters.
An article in the March 1977 edition of the Ladies Home Journal stated this film "did for cab-riding what Jaws (1975) did for swimming."
Gene Siskel, who was notoriously prudish, gave this movie a "thumbs down" review on his program, saying the movie "covers some interesting ground" but is spoiled by the climax which is violent, unpleasant and unnecessary. Roger Ebert, who gave the movie a positive review, said, "Well if they took out the violent climax, Gene, this wouldn't be the same movie." History has come down on Ebert's side, not Siskel's: on this one, in fact most critics say it's one of the best movies ever made.
Kim Basinger was offered the role of Iris, but had to turn down in order to continue to work as a model.
After Brian De Palma, who was originally attached to the project, was let go, Producer Michael Phillips gave him a gross point as a parting gift, to assuage Phillips' guilt.
Various studios considered producing this film; one suggested Neil Diamond for the lead role.
At the porno theater, Travis purchases two Clark bars, two boxes of Goobers, one box of Chuckles, a Royal Crown cola, and a box of popcorn for $1.85 (about $8.50 in 2019).
In the diner scene, 12-year-old Iris (played by Jodie Foster) says to Travis Bickle that "Cancers make the best lovers." Not coincidentally, Paul Schrader who penned the screenplay, happens to be zodiac sign Cancer (June 21-July 22) given his birthday of July 22nd.
Production for this movie was originally set to begin in June 1974, but did not actually shoot until one year later due to Scorsese's and De Niro's busy schedules.
The shooting schedule for the film was set at forty days. The shoot went five days over schedule.
Burt Reynolds, while promoting his memoirs in 2015, said he turned down the part of Travis Bickle. He said it was stupid of him in hindsight, and regretted the decision.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
The writer David Sherwin briefly lived in Los Angeles during the spring of 1975 working on an unmade Robin Hood picture with Jon Voight. During that time , he was looking to change representatives and met with Harry J. Ufland, Martin Scorsese's agent. Scorsese wanted Sherwin to work on a new musical he was planning about Byron and Shelley with Robert De Niro starring. Ufland told Sherwin that Scorsese was a huge fan of his work , and that he had named De Niro's character in "Taxi Driver" after Sherwin's protagonist in the Lindsay Anderson classics If.... (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973), in which Mick Travis was played by Malcolm McDowell.
The hauntingly beautiful sax solos throughout the film are performed by Ronnie Lang, who played with Les Brown and others in his career.
Travis wanting to rescue Iris was regarded by Schrader and Scorsese to be The Searchers (1956) in 1970s New York City. They also gave "Sport" some Indian feathers on his hat to further link the two films.
Looking closely at one of the newspaper clippings at end of the film mentions Harry Kilmer as President of the Manhattan Cab Company. Harry Kilmer was the name of Robert Mitchum's private detective character in The Yakuza (1974), which was writer Paul Schrader's first screenplay.
Xzibit sampled the "Listen you fuckers, you screwheads, Here's a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is someone who stood up. Here is..." speech for the title track of his 1996 album "At The Speed Of Life."
When Betsy enters the campaign headquarters in slow motion, and Martin Scorsese is sitting by the door, the guy coming out of the headquarters, who is holding the door for her, is wearing a Columbia Pictures t-shirt turned inside out. Columbia Pictures is the studio that released the film.
In 1976, Martin Scorsese held a private screening of his film at New York's Plaza Hotel for a small group of friends that included his parish priest and lifelong mentor Reverend Francis Principe. After the screening, the Catholic priest commented, "I'm glad you ended it on Easter Sunday, and not on Good Friday." For many years afterward, this comment was often misquoted as "too much Good Friday, not enough Easter Sunday", and erroneously attributed to Marty's New York University teacher Haig Manoogian.
Director Martin Scorsese plays two different roles in the film: a man standing outside the campaign office (for which he goes uncredited), and the disturbing taxi passenger (for which he is credited).
Robert De Niro actually got a real cab license and worked as a taxi driver for two months to get the feel of it. However the New York Taxi Commission cannot allow actual names of cab drivers to be displayed in films hence the fake chauffeur hack display with "Travis Bickle."
When talking to the Secret Service Agent, Bickle gives the false name of Henry Krinkle. Steve Burns of Blue's Clues (1996) has a song called "Henry Krinkle's Lament" on his CD "Song for Dustmites."
When they have dinner for the first time, Travis cracks a joke about "being organiz-ized" which Betsy doesn't seem to get. Later, when Travis is writing his diary, we can see the poster in his room that reads "One day I will get organiz-ized" with a picture of man sleeping in his chair and the letters "ized" seem to be falling down as if the man in the picture slept while he was completing the sentence.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, and Martin Scorsese; and two Oscar nominees: Albert Brooks and Harvey Keitel.
Travis Bickle constantly suffers from delusions of eloquence. He has a strong inner life but lacks the education and cultural background to give voice to it, and instead uses whatever phrases around him to suit his purpose, often coming across as a "square" (as Iris notes) or as a mix of a "prophet" and "pusher" (as Betsy notes). A key example is the lunch between Travis and Betsy where Travis says, "I gotta get Organi-sized" which Betsy sees as a sappy office joke but Travis takes it as serious wisdom, and in a Brick Joke, eventually puts that poster in his apartment. His general overall seriousness and total lack of a sense of humor and his Sarcasm Failure (in his conversations with Iris, Sport, Wizard and Betsy) are also a key part of his general social failure and his eventual breakdown. The conversation between him and Wizard is the ultimate example where Wizard more or less provides existentialist ideas as the word on the street picked it up in the 70s, and Travis more or less sees that as bull-shit and Wizard shrugs and admits he isn't Bertrand Russell and tells him You Need to Get Laid.
In the scene where Betsy leaves her office in slow-motion and Martin Scorsese can be glimpsed sitting on the stoop behind her, he's wearing an inside-out Columbia Studios t-shirt. This was a Columbia picture.
The second movie in which Robert De Niro's character is a Vietnam veteran. The first being Hi, Mom! (1970). He later went on to play two other Vietnam War veterans in The Deer Hunter (1978) and Jacknife (1989).
Mary Steenburgen auditioned for the role of Betsy, and was Martin Scorsese's preferred choice.
Tatum O'Neal was approached by Scorsese and Columbia Pictures to play Iris. O'Neal refused, and said she wanted to read for the part of Travis. When the studio refused, O'Neal wasn't interested, stating "Honestly that part's too small. I did just win an Oscar, you know."
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the writing categories.
Isabelle Adjani and Ornella Muti were each offered the role of Iris, but both turned it down.
Debra Winger, when she was just starting out as an actress, auditioned for the role of Iris.
Ads for films starring Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson can be seen in the film. Like Robert De Niro in this film, Eastwood and Bronson have also portrayed vigilantes on-screen.
(Cameo) Victor Argo: As shopkeeper Melio who is held at gunpoint by a robber (Nat Grant), who is shot by Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), thereby saving Melio.
Taxi Driver is widely regarded as one of the greatest films 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.
Screenwriter Paul Schrader has said in interviews that Pauline Kael "was a second mother to him." They befriended each other in 1971, years before this film came out, and he was one of her little acolytes, nicknamed the "PAULETTES." He was part of a clique of Columbia film school students who were trying to get a leg up in the film critic world, and she was helping him get a job in that field. Later he quit this pursuit, but they stayed friends and he even gave her a copy of the "Taxi Driver" script years before it came out. It is no wonder that she gave the film such a glowing review.
Paul Schrader originally set the film in Los Angeles, but it was moved to New York City because taxicabs were much more prevalent there than in Los Angeles.
The weapons that Travis uses are: a Smith & Wesson Model 29 with an eight-inch barrel, a nickel Smith & Wesson Model 36 with a square butt, mother-of-pearl grips with a flared flat cylinder release hatch, a Smith & Wesson Escort, Astra Constable .32 LR.
Liza Minnelli and Barbara Hershey were each offered the role of Betsy, but both turned it down.
Jennifer Jason Leigh did an audition for the role of Iris, but came close to Jodie Foster on the final day of auditions.
Movie billboards are seen for The Eiger Sanction (1975), Dr. No (1962), and possibly The Wind and the Lion (1975) (the billboard advertised Sean Connery).
Travis mentions at the start of the film that he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Harvey Keitel, who plays Sport, served in the U.S. Marine Corps before becoming an actor.
The only film that year nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and not Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes.
Robert De Niro and Joe Spinell previously starred in The Godfather: Part II (1974), but they shared no screen time together.
The famous statement about "God's Lonely Man" is a citation of the essay of the same name by author Thomas Wolfe. Similarly his "You talkin' to me?" line is closely paraphrased from Shane (1953). Travis Bickle is named after Mick Travis, Malcolm McDowell's character in Lindsay Anderson's films If.... (1968) and O Lucky Man! (1973) (and later Britannia Hospital (1982)). Also, in one scene in O Lucky Man, McDowell wears suspenders with no shirt, as DeNiro does in one scene here.
In an early scene, another taxi driver shows Travis Bickle a piece of Errol Flynn's bathtub that he owns. Errol Flynn was a former Hollywood actor and a character (played by Jude Law) in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004).
During her coffee-shop date with Travis, Betsy quotes from Kris Kristofferson's song "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33", and Travis later buys her the album on which it appears (The Silver Tongued Devil and I).
Travis buys four guns from Easy Andy. He also kills a total of four people over the course of the movie (first the burglar at a convenience store, then the three thugs near the end of the movie).
This is the first of three films on which Harvey Keitel has worked with Cinematographer Michael Chapman. The other two films are Fingers (1978) and Rising Sun (1993).
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Original Score.
Norman Matlock, who plays Charlie T., the black taxi driver, later appeared as a character named "Albert Brooks" in Murder in Coweta County (1983), while in this film, Albert Brooks played a major role.
Travia purchases four handguns from Easy Andy. The first is a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum with a 8 3/8" barrel, the longest factory-made barrel for that model at the time. He pays $350 for it (over $1,600 in 2019). He also purchases a Smith & Wesson Model 36 and a Smith & Wesson Escort .22, which Easy Andy incorrectly refers to as a Colt .25. The final pistol Travis buys is a Astra Constable, which and incorrectly identifies as a .380 Walther.
It's likely although it's never addressed in the movie that Iris may be brainwashed by Sport and could be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Iris won't leave Sport and believes her parents hate her and claims that Sport never hurt or treated her badly and ignores Travis's comments about Sport and about her being a prostitute and ignores his advice to leave Sport and thinks Sport and Iris thinks Sport is not a monster and loves her and she does not see that he is a vile snake.
Early in the film when Travis is seeking employment at the taxi company, he responds to the manager, "What is moonlighting?" Moonlighting (1985) was a hit TV show starring co-star Cybill Shepherd.
In the course of the final credits can be seen a movie theater marquee announcing Mr. Majestyk (1974) starring Charles Bronson.
In a recent cast reunion interview Martin Scorsese said the famous Spanish artist Salvadore Dali was staying at the hotel where the rest of the cast and crew was situated. They said they'd see him every day sitting in the lobby or the hotel restaurant sketching or taking notes; so much so that Scorsese was tempted to stick him in the movie somewhere. But he said that would ruin the dark mood of the film, so he scuttled the idea.
When The New York Times asked Jodie Foster how she played the part so authentically, the then-13-year-old actress simply said, "Well, I've never been [a prostitute]. And I've never observed or talked to a teenage prostitute. But listen, kids aren't stupid anymore, like they used to be. Everybody knows what hookers are."
Done a few times by Travis doing a finger gun impression, in the seedy porn theatres. Also, after his rampage, Travis tries to shoot himself, but he's out of ammunition. When the police arrives, he places his index finger against his temple like a gun and pretends to shoot himself in the head several times.
14 years after the film's cinema release, Robert De Niro starred opposite Robin Williams in Awakenings (1990). Robin Williams later starred in One Hour Photo (2002) which is a similar film to Taxi Driver. In that film, Williams stars as lonely mentally disturbed photo developer Seymour Parrish who stalks the Yorkin family whose photos he develops and keeps copies for himself. He goes vigilante and decides to exact revenge on the family's patriarch Will Michael Vartan when he discovers he is having an affair with another woman.
The names of Iris' parents are Burt and Ivy Steensma and they hail from Pittsburgh.
Jodie Foster is famous for two very iconic movies about psychopaths: Taxi Driver (1976) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Stan McClintock, also known as Maverick Dren Zaria, has said that this is his favorite movie.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of the Top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
Bernard Hermann recorded for two days on this movie; and finished all his work in that two days. Later that day, on the last day they recorded, he died.
Jodie Foster revealed on The Graham Norton Show that Scorsese and the producers were very uncomfortable about her character. Nobody knew how to direct her.
Scorsese brought in the film title designer Dan Perri to design the title sequence for Taxi Driver. Perri had been Scorsese's original choice to design the titles for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore in 1974, but Warner Bros would not allow him to hire an unknown designer. By the time Taxi Driver was going into production, Perri had established his reputation with his work on The Exorcist, and Scorsese was now able to hire him.
De Niro repeated the famous "you talking to me" monologue (with some alterations) as Fearless Leader in the 2000 film The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
The 1994 portrayal of psychopath Albie Kinsella by Robert Carlyle in British television series Cracker was in part inspired by Travis Bickle, and Carlyle's performance has frequently been compared to De Niro's as a result.
In late January 2005, a sequel was announced by De Niro and Scorsese. At a 25th-anniversary screening of Raging Bull, De Niro talked about the story of an older Travis Bickle being in development. Also in 2000, De Niro mentioned interest in bringing back the character in conversation with Actors Studio host James Lipton. In November 2013, he revealed that Schrader had done a first draft but both he and Scorsese thought that it was not good enough to go beyond.
In 2010, Variety reported rumors that Lars von Trier, Scorsese, and De Niro planned to work on a remake of the film with the same restrictions that were used in The Five Obstructions. In 2014, Paul Schrader said that it was not being made. He said, "It was a terrible idea" and "in Marty's mind, it never was something that should be done."
Martin Scorsese said in an interview that the Movie was inspired by Satyajit Ray's "Abhijaan" (1962) . The character of Travis was directly influenced by Soumitra Chatterjee's role 'Singhjee' from Abhijaan.
Jodie Foster was only 12 years old during the shooting of the film; for some scenes, Foster's older sister, Connie, was the stand-in.
In the 2012 film Seven Psychopaths, psychotic Los Angeles actor Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) believes himself to be the illegitimate son of Travis Bickle.
The vigilante ending inspired Jacques Audiard for his 2015 Palme d'Or-winning film Dheepan. The French director based the eponymous Tamil Tiger character on the one played by Robert De Niro in order to make him a "real movie hero". The script of Joker by Todd Phillips also draws inspiration from Taxi Driver.