TAXI DRIVER | “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle, and director Martin Scorsese, on the set of Taxi Driver.  The two had previously collaborated in the 1973 film, Mean Streets.  It’s hard to believe that Scorsese originally offered the role of Travis Bickle to Dustin Hoffman, who turned it down.  Hoffman recalls, “I remember meeting Martin Scorsese.  He had no script and I didn’t even know who he was. I hadn’t seen any of his films and he talked a mile a minute telling me what the movie would be about. I was thinking, ‘What is he talking about?’ I thought the guy was crazy!  The film was Taxi Driver.”

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle, and director Martin Scorsese, on the set of Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis.  When he signed-on to play Travis Bickle, De Niro was still abroad filming Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 in Italy.  De Niro would finish shooting on a Friday in Rome, get on a plane and fly to New York.  He even obtained an official NYC taxi cab driver’s license, and when on break would pick up a cab and drive long shifts on the streets of New York City for a couple weeks at a time before flying back to Rome.  In typical De Niro form, he shed 30- 35 lbs. for the role and studied the diaries of Arthur Bremer (who shot presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972) to get inside his head.

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1976, New York — Director Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro on the set of  Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis.  Oliver Stone believes he was the model for De Niro’s Travis Bickle, pointing out that he was being taught by Scorsese at NYU film school at the time, and like Travis he was a Vietnam veteran turned N.Y.C. cabdriver and wore his olive drab army coat while on duty.

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1976, New York — Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, and director Martin Scorsese, on the set of Taxi Driver.  Jodie Foster was not originally the first choice to play Iris.  Melanie Griffith, Linda Blair, Bo Derek, Carrie Fisher, Brooke Shields, and Mariel Hemingway all auditioned for the role. When almost everyone turned down the controversial role, the 12-year-old Foster was finally chosen by Scorsese over Kristy McNichol.  The young actress who played Iris’s friend in Taxi Driver was a true-life working prostitute studied by Foster to help her get into the role.

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.  Gotta love the irony of the sign behind him.

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Robert De Niros’ official NYC taxicab driver’s license.

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver — (right) Image by © CinemaPhoto/Corbis

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Marty Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

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1976, New York — Martin Scorsese directing Robert De Niro and Cybill Shepherd in Palantine’s campaign office on the set of Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

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Actor George Memmoli was originally cast as the distraught husband in Travis Bickle’s cab, but was injured while filming the 1975 movie, The Farmer, and had to turn it down.  The part was ultimately played by the film’s director himself– Martin Scorsese, and thank God it was.  “Do you see the woman in the window? That’s my wife.  That’s not my apartment.  You know who lives there?  Huh?”

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$350 for the Magnum, $250 for the .38, One-and-a-Quarter for the .25, $150 for the .380

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro doing push-ups in Travis Bickle’s apartment on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

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“June 29th — I gotta get in shape now, too much siting has ruined my body.  Too much abuse has gone on for too long…”  –Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle

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“There will be no more pills.  There will be no more bad food.  No more destroyers of my body.  From now on it will be total organization.  Every muscle must be tight.”  –Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle

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“The idea had been growing in my brain for some time.  True force.  All the King’s men can not put it back together again.”  –Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver*

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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“Yeah, I got him.  Shit, man… listen, I ain’t got a permit for this thing…”  –Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver

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“Dear father and Mother…”  –Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver

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“Lookin’ for some action?”  Jodie Foster as Iris, and Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle  in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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“Shit, you’re a real cowboy?  That;s nice, man.  I once had a horse… in Coney Island.  She got hit by a car…”  –Harvey Keitel as Matthew the pimp in Taxi Driver

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1976, New York — Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) checks out his .44 Magnum revolver in the Martin Scorsese movie, Taxi Driver . — Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

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Story has it that Robert De Niro’s Mohawk was not actually real, due to the fact that De Niro still had to shoot scenes for the film with hair after the Mohawk sceness.  Makeup artist Dick Smith created a bald cap that was glued to De Niro’s head– the mohawk was made from horse hair.

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Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver — Images by © CinemaPhoto/Corbis (lt.), © Steve Schapiro/Corbis (rt.)

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s epic film, Taxi Driver.

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle holding a handgun on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. — (left) Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

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1976, New York — Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

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martin scorsese taxi driver

Director Martin Scorsese, on the set of Taxi Driver. — Image by © Steve Schapiro

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deniro taxi driver

 

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

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18 thoughts on “TAXI DRIVER | “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”

  1. Definitely when both of these guys were in their prime and making some legendary stuff. What was their next picture together, Raging Bull? Can you do better back to back then that, plus throw in DeNiro in the Deerhunter and you have a career for some actors. I mean the work the two of them did together is incredible and I believe this picture really gets the zeitgeist of NYC in the 1970′s. Nice work JP

    • Don’t forget Mean Streets prior to Taxi Driver.

      King of Comedy followed Raging Bull and Goodfellas followed that…five absolutely classic films in a row.

      (Obviously I am excluding non DeNiro films for Scorcese)

      • I agree fella about those films. An incredible body of work. The only thing to spoil that chronology is the next film De Niro and Scorsese made after Taxi Driver was New York, New York, which is really not that hot. It’s probably the only De Niro film from that period that I haven’t rewatched 10 times.

        But, yeah, De Niro was my absolute idol growing up in London. He was my James Dean, my Jim Morrison, and Taxi Driver is my absolute favorite film. Must’ve seen it, what, 20-30 times.

        And as a De Niro buff, it was great to see the image of his cab licence.

      • (for some reason I cannot reply to your comment directly….)

        I love DeNiro, I remember watched Goodfellas and being absolutely blown away by it. I’ve only ever seen one film cold i.e. knowing nothing about it, where it’s made me want to watch it again straight away and that was City of God.

        I’m the first to admit he’s been in some absolute dogshit in the last 20 years though..I suppose it makes the gems appear all that brighter.

  2. Great stuff. For anyone wondering about the clothing, The Real McCoy’s produces a line of reproductions from this movie.

  3. oliver stone is such a self obsessed moron. the role of travis bickle is NOT based on him, but loosely based on the screenwriter paul schrader. And bickle’s wardrobe is basically taken off schrader’s back.

  4. great to be reminded of such powerful stuff-we used to run a lot of the lines from this film as we all loved every minute of it-but then again we are pure white biker trash.indian forever-other stuff whenever

  5. thanks JP. you never disappoint!
    growing up in NYC in the 70′s this film has a special significance for me.
    so many classic lines. one of my favorites has always been when Bickle says, “Some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.”

    sorry to digress, but whenever i see paul schraders name i always have to recommend his film, “Mishima: a life in four chapter.” one of my all time favorites.

  6. Real great post as always, awesome photos, lots of infos.
    And I thought I’d knew someting about this film.
    One of my alltime favourites
    Again you made my sunday
    Best regards
    Uwe

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  8. yeah

    Loving the post, Travis was one crazy mother Fu-ker, great film I recently got my 16 and 28 year old daughters to watch it, they were glued to the screen

  9. Great images, great movie, great blog. I wish I’d seen this when I was writing my essay about the movie. I’ve studied this movie in detail; the performances are brilliant and the characterisation and story are so effortless.

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