Taxi Driver (1976)

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Movie Overview | Taxi Driver

Tagline: On every street in every city, there's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody.

A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feed his urge for violent action.

To deal with sleeplessness and loneliness, Travis Bickle drives NYC night shift taxis. He journals “you’re only as healthy as you feel.” and goes 42nd Street porn theaters. Urban violence and destruction appal him, and he wants “the slime off the streets.”

Travis loves Betsy, Charles Palantine presidential campaign employee. She takes Travis’ coffee at her campaign offices. Betsy likes Travis and dates again. Travis pushes Betsy away by taking her to a porn cinema on their date. Rejects her. He’s expelled for shouting at her at campaign headquarters.

Travis confides in Wizard, a fellow cab driver, about his violent impulses after an existential crisis and prostitutes. Wizard ignores them and says he’ll be fine. Travis works out hard to release anger. A cab driver suggests Easy Andy, a black market gun dealer, to Travis, who buys four weapons. Travis practise drawing his handguns at home and alters one to launch from his sleeve. He attends Palantine safety rallies. A nighttime burglar robbing Travis’ friend’s convenience store is shot and killed.

Travis often sees 12-year-old child prostitute Iris walking around the city. He begs her to quit prostitution. Travis attends Palantine-killing protests with a mohawk. After seeing him unzip his jacket and put his hand inside, Secret Service officers follow him. Iris’ brothel pimp Sport gets shot by Travis one night. Arriving, he shoots Sport and Iris’s mafioso customer. Travis shoots and kills two. The bouncer is then stabbed in the hand and shot in the head with a shoe knife. Travis’ suicide attempt fails due to ammunition shortage. Deeply hurt, he tears on a sofa with Iris. Travis frantically mimics shooting himself in the head with his finger as cops approach.

Injury puts Travis in coma. The press deems him a brave vigilante, and he is not held for the crimes. Parents thank Iris. Travis works and meets Betsy as a fare after growing out his hair. Betsy follows his news and gets along. Travis smiles and drives away without her money, leaving her home. After seeing something in his rearview mirror, he becomes upset.

Writer Paul Schrader

Producer Julia Phillips,
Michael Phillips

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