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YMMV / Taxi Driver

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Travis a "rebel with a cause" who targets Palantine mistakenly...or is he dissolving into insanity, and his rescue of Iris is just him looking for a justification for his desire to give in to violence? Or perhaps both...? For that matter, we never actually learn what is wrong with Travis. He shows signs of Asperger's Syndrome, schizotypal personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (possibly from his time in Vietnam), but it's not clear which if any disorder he actually has or how it/they influence(s) his deteriorating mental state.
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    • Is returning Iris back to her parents a really heroic action? Iris claims that her parents hate her and that she ran away from home. She might be lying but given the tone of the letter at the end where the parents promise to make sure that Iris never leaves them again, one wonders if she was fleeing Abusive Parents and Travis has in fact returned her back to them. How bad must her previous life must have been that she favours her current life as a drug-using child prostitute? For that matter, can we even trust what Iris tells us about her life?
  • Award Snub: Lost Best Actor (Peter Finch) and Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight) to Network, Best Original Score to The Omen (1976), and Best Picture to Rocky. Martin Scorsese wasn't even nominated as Best Director. Neither was Paul Schrader for his brilliant screenplay. Considering that year was amongst the most competitive in the history of the Oscars, the Oscar losses might be justified or debated against, although arguably less so as time goes on in light of the film's immense reputation.
  • Awesome Music / Ear Worm:
    • The title theme.
    • In fact, the score overall. Bernard Herrmann's last and best work.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Arguably the scene with Betsy and Tom's casual conversation at the campaign headquarters can count as this, where they discuss lighting matches without using their hands. The scene can be considered questionable in its relevance since it doesn't really include Travis except to reveal him observing her at the very end of the scene and primarily focuses on Betsy and Tom's interactions as friends/coworkers. It can feel like padding and trivial to the overall plot and possibly out of place with the film's tone. Although it can be argued that it shows Betsy from a more objective, third-person point of view to emphasize the deviation between Travis's distorted perception of her and the banal reality of her character [maybe similar to the other scene without Travis, between Sport and Iris where he convinces her to stay right before Travis's shootout]. It isn't clear if this was intentional or not.
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  • Fair for Its Day: The scene where Wizard and the other taxi drivers discuss homosexuals and more specifically, two gay men he drove in his cab earlier that night. Wizard expresses the opinion that whatever sexual activities two consenting adults engage in behind closed doors is none of his business and he won't judge anyone by it, but they should not display or encourage homosexual behavior in public. While this statement would be seen as either homophobic or intolerant today, it was a rather tolerant and progressive opinion in the 1970s. Richard Nixon gave a similar opinion to express his empathy towards and tolerance of homosexuals in a candid moment in 1971 from his notorious White House tapes. Additionally, Wizard and the other Taxi drivers do not object upon learning about a new law in California that allows gay couples to collect alimony from each other, they see the law as being perfectly fair.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Easy Andy tells Travis a great deal about the guns he's buying, but it's all very inaccurate and leaves one wondering why an arms dealer wouldn't know his own merchandise. Then one realizes Travis probably doesn't know anything about the history of the merchandise he's buying and Andy is just telling him this stuff to convince him to buy it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Knowing about the real-life Bernie Goetz case (which happened eight years after the movie came out) can make watching Travis' shooting rampage much more uncomfortable.
    • Travis considers assassinating Presidential candidate Palantine, which would infamously be mirrored by John Hinckley Jr trying to kill President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.
    • Similarly to Travis attempting to kill Palantine, in 2018, a right wing domestic terrorist sent bombs to several left wing politicians, donors, and activists. Incidentally, Robert De Niro also received a bomb at one of his restaurants in New York.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Wizard's line about California being more progressive than New York when it comes to gay marriage is rather funny since, of the two states, New York legalized gay marriage first.
    • Travis mentions "moonlighting". Years later, Cybill Shepard would star in Moonlighting.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Travis. Sure, he may be a violent, misguided Vigilante Man, but after being spurned by his crush, mocked by the one he's trying to help, and generally disturbed by his own surroundings, it's impossible not to feel for him to some degree.
  • Memetic Mutation: "You talking to me?"
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • The film has badly suffered from being idolized by gun-toting sociopaths who believed they'd found their representative in Travis (most infamously John Hinckley Jr). The other side of the fandom is nutjobs who take Travis' racism and vigilante ways as something to be admired. Like A Clockwork Orange five years earlier, a brilliant work of art that suffered because it was viewed by dangerous idiots.
    • There are also those who use his famous "You talkin' to me?" scene as a sort of Badass Boast, when in context Bickle's just talking to himself and fantasizing. Specifically he was irritated by how stupid he came across interacting with secret service agents and wanted to be commanding and intimidating in his next interactions. Eventually, he flees when said secret agents spot him and chase him.
  • Never Live It Down: John Hinckley trying to emulate Travis by shooting Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster. Not that any sane person would ever see that link otherwise, though.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Martin Scorsese's cameo as a psychopathic passenger that Travis picks up. Apparently Scorsese never planned to be in the scene, the actor they hired got sick on the day of the shoot and so Scorsese had to step in.
    • Easy Andy the gun salesman.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • A never released video game was in the works. According to to one of the staff, it was going to be a Grand Theft Auto Clone, written by Hollywood Writers who had never played a video game or seen the movie (beyond the mirror scene) before. Featured stupid dialog with awful voice acting and made Travis a mass-murdering psychopath instead of a deranged loner posing in the mirror. It even went through a period where the license was removed from the game before getting it applied again.
    • Paul Schrader has noted that he and Scorsese have regularly halted, blocked and stalled attempts to license Taxi Driver spin-offs.
      "We really have fought over the years to keep people's hands off Taxi Driver, to keep it from being a video game and to keep it from having a sequel. It's a one-off kind of film."
  • Retroactive Recognition: Albert Brooks as Tom just before he broke out as a director and actor with his film Real Life and became a much more recognizable character actor.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Of Notes from Underground and parts of Crime and Punishment. Both Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese were great admirers of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Schrader described Travis Bickle as an American version of the "underground man" featured in Dostoevsky. Scorsese had wanted to adapt Notes from Underground himself before coming across Schrader's script and feeling that no direct adaptation could beat it.
  • The Woobie: Iris and other child prostitutes who are totally used to that kind of life and cynical enough to be skeptical of such would-be rescuers as Travis. Suffice to say seeing that bloody rampage committed by Travis will give her nightmares for years and years, in addition to her time as a prostitute and her (supposedly) abusive parents, whom she says she ran away from and Travis returned her back to.
  • Writer-Induced Fanon: Travis Bickle is never explicitly identified as The Vietnam Vet (except for it being mentioned in one of the newspapers the camera pans over at the end), but the hints are there in his overall behaviour and jackets, the social context of 70s New York and the mention of him being in the Marines and a charred NVA flag in his apartment. Nonetheless Martin Scorsese considers him to be a Shell-Shocked Veteran returning from Vietnam. Paul Schrader, for his part, while never opposing this interpretation, kept it intentionally vague because he modelled the character on his own personal breakdown and embellished it with more general feelings, so as to lend the film to considerable Applicability.


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