AFI Top 100: No. 52 Taxi Driver

What should be next on the list after movie about the Vietnam War starring Robert De Niro (The Deer Hunter)? How about a movie about a disturbed Vietnam vet starring Robert De Niro? Ok! I kid, we all know De Niro is one of the all-time greats. And boy did he give an award winning performance of the unstable taxi driver Travis. He was naive, yet creepy as the man trying to swoon an attractive, young campaign worker. I squirmed when he took her to an X-rated movie, but my mouth dropped when I realized he had absolutely no clue this would be considered inappropriate. He was completely oblivious but was not at all innocent. The psychological change Travis undergoes after being rejected is extremely disturbing, and makes a person fearful that any sort of rejection to the wrong man could cause terrible circumstances.

Let’s quickly talk about Jodie Foster’s character. A 12-year-old runaway prostitute, Jodie portrayed another character that made you feel as uncomfortable as Travis. The scene where she is slow dancing with her pimp is beyond revolting (the single painted pinky nail is a nice touch). Juxtapose that with the scene in the diner with Travis, where she keeps changing her sunglasses, and you can see the youth still in her. Foster truly did a fantastic job balancing this role.

Until I read other reviews, I thought that the last scenes of Travis being the hero were fake. I thought he either died in the shooting or he was in a mental institute dreaming it. As I see the director has nixed this theory, I will add I enjoyed how the fight scene was shown in a different camera light. It seemed to heighten the crazed mind of Travis more… This movie, not unlike A Clockwork Orange, made you feel so uncomfortable that it causes you to look behind your back at every moment and to treat strangers more cautiously. When you keep thinking about a movie days after watching it, you know it’s a good one. It just may not be one you want to watch again.

Next Up: No. 51 West Side Story

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3 comments

  1. Great post. One of my all time favorites. The De Niro/Scorsese tandem is one of the best!

  2. Thanks for mentioning Scorcese nixed the dream/death ending. I’ll have to look that up and take another look at the film. There are a few things about that ending that always made me wonder about Travis mental capacity. I seem to recall that if you pay close attention to the letter, from Foster’s parents, which is hanging on the wall, the written words are different from the ones Travis read. Of course, I may not be remembering that correctly.

  3. […] been as controversial and there were so many new horrors of war. The Deer Hunter, Platoon, and even Taxi Driver and Forrest Gump have already highlighted how the Vietnam War adversely affected people. I […]

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