Taxi Driver, the pressure cooker of a film about one man’s lonely journey into a nether region of metaphoric and literal hell by way of a society that doesn’t even want to begin to understand him, celebrated its 40th anniversary over the weekend, opening in New York City on Feb 7th, 1976 and opening in a wide release on February 8th.
The film, an early masterpiece by director Martin Scorsese, who was coming off twin successes with Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore respectively, is a stark, brutal, dark, and pulsing look into the open wound that was New York City circa 1975. During that turbulent and gritty time, the city was almost limping on legs from a bygone era that started to erode and disintegrate by the time the film was made. On cracked concrete streets, with asphalt that seemed to emit snakelike steam from its sewers could only a film like this be born. Taxi Driver stands as a true testament to the blood, sweat, and tears put forth by the creative triumvirate of Scorsese, writer Paul Schrader, and the lead actor who played one Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro, was already a legend even then when the cameras started rolling as production commenced.
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