Taxi Driver: Behind the Scenes & Facts

Martin Scorsese put all the city dweller’s irrational, guilty fears into this 1976 story of a New York taxi driver (Robert De Niro) on a one-man rampage against the “scum”–pimps, whores, muggers, junkies, and politicians. Scorsese’s style is a delirious, full-color successor to expressionism, in which the cityscape becomes the twisted projection of the protagonist’s mind. Paul Schrader’s screenplay, with its buried themes of sin and redemption, borrows very, very heavily from Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket, yet the purloined material is transformed in startling, disturbing ways. It would be hard to imagine an American film more squarely in the European “art” tradition than this, yet it was misunderstood enough to become a significant popular success–a thinking man’s Death Wish. With Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, and Harvey Keitel. *

Here is a list of behind-the-scenes photos and facts about the movie Taxi Driver.

The Film Inspired An Attempt On Ronald Reagan’s Life

One of Taxi Driver’s uglier legacies occurred when it served as an inspiration for a real-world act of inhumanity. After watching the film at least 15 times, John Hinckley Jr. developed a close identification with Travis Bickle, whose arc builds to a politically and personally motivated rampage. Hinckley directly mimicked Bickle’s behavior by targeting the sitting president, Ronald Reagan, outside a Washington-area Hilton in a misguided attempt to impress Jodie Foster, an actress from the film with whom he had become obsessed. Police quickly apprehended him and learned his motives in subsequent interviews. After spending decades in a mental facility, he was released in 2016.

Taxi Driver

Robert De Niro Got A Cab Driver’s License To Prepare For The Role Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle’s Mohawk Was Inspired By American Soldiers In Vietnam

Taxi Driver

Paul Schrader Wrote The Script In Just Over A Week

Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver over the course of ten days, across two drafts. He began the second draft right after he finished the first. He was staying at his ex-girlfriend’s place while she was out of town, and having been living in his car, Schrader found a kindred spirit in Travis. Like his disturbed lead character, Schrader had no friends, isolated himself from the world, visited adult movie theaters, and developed an unnerving obsession with guns. He even kept a loaded gun in the desk drawer while he was writing Taxi Driver to provide motivation and inspiration.

Brian De Palma Passed Up The Script Before It Was Given To Martin Scorsese

Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle’s Famed ‘You Talkin’ To Me?’ Was Improvised

12 year-old Jodie Foster (right) and her 19 year-old sister Connie, who stood in for her more explicit scenes in the film “Taxi Driver” (1976)

Jodie was 12 at the moment the movie was being filmed, and couldn’t film the explicit scenes. Connie, Jodie’s older sister, was 19 when the film was produced, so she was cast as her body double for those scenes. Before being given the part, Jodie was also subjected to psychological testing, attending sessions with a UCLA psychiatrist, to ensure that she would not be emotionally scarred by her role.

Bernard Herrmann Initially Turned Down Scorsese’s Offer To Write The Film’s Score

Bernard Herrmann’s musical score is one of the most memorable things about Taxi Driver. But when Martin Scorsese — then a virtually unknown director — contacted Herrmann about writing the music for the film, the composer turned him down immediately, telling him, “I don’t write music for car movies.” After reading the script, Herrmann realized this was more than just a “car movie” and agreed to pen the score. Herrmann used dissonant brass to represent Travis Bickle’s dark emotional state. Shortly after polishing the score to answer Scorsese’s feedback that it needed an extra sting, Herrmann passed away at the age of 64.

Taxi Driver

“Someday, a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”