Some say the 1970’s were the golden age of cinema. Censorship was lax, society was (not much unlike today) angry, and moviemakers began making more controversial films that hit not only modern issues but also the time period’s emotions. One young filmmaker named Paul Schrader hit the ground running. From the midwest, with a background completely different than his contemporaries, he brought with him tales of ennui, harshness, and fury. His second screenplay was turned into the film Taxi Driver which became one of the most important and greatest films in cinema history.
With Martin Scorsese directing, the tale is about Travis Bickle, played by Robert Deniro, who becomes a cabbie that is willing to work late night hours. As he drives and sees the seedy side of New York City, his thoughts turn to anger and rage. Unfortunately he may be more than just angry. He may actually be mentally unstable. As he unsuccessfully asks for help, he turns his attentions to two young women. One named Betsy, played by Cybill Shepherd, is a campaign worker that seems happy in her everyday life. The other named Iris, played by Jodie Foster, is an underaged streetwalker that has fallen under the spell of a pimp, played by Harvey Keitel. Travis inserts himself into their lives on a mission to save both from the two sides of the “machine” that they happen to be stuck in.
Other cast members include Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle, and a young Joe Spinell. The film was also the last score of Hollywood legend Bernard Hermann before his passing. With its success, Paul Schader would go on to write multiple screenplays and direct critically acclaimed films. Dark Discussions turns their attention to the 40th anniversary of the release of this masterpiece and talks about their feelings about this important film.