Martin Scorsese while starting filmmaking almost at the same time as Francis Ford Coppola, as an Italian American, he is more interested in social studies of the American society and metropolitan cities specially New York City. His first major feature, “Mean Streets” was a fair study of Italian American real street mobs, unlike the organized crime fable of the Godfather of Coppola. In his second major work, Taxi Driver, he takes us within the story of a taxi driver to the streets of the city that never sleeps, as he had lived in, observed and experienced it.
Taxi Driver: Robin Hood of the City Nights
Travis (Robert De Niro) is an ex-marine who takes the job of taxi driving in the city as he cannot sleep like the big city itself, and perhaps to avoid his flashback nightmares of the war of Vietnam. The film like a documentary, take the viewers through the streets of New York City and the lives and behaviors of creatures of the night, the prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. We see the filth, the mess and the crimes in the city through Travis’ eyes who’s disgusted with all and wishes to be totally cleaned up.
In all this jungle mess of filth, he spots only one pure beauty, Betsy (Cybil Shepherd) who works in the election office of senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris) who’s running for presidency. He falls in love with her right away, walks in her office with no hesitation and with persistence and charm takes her on a brief coffee break date. Naïve and depressed, a victim of the war and the big city, his only hobby to relax and kill time when not working is watching porn film in special theatres without being or acting as hypersexual. So on the second date, he takes Betsy to watch such porn films that throws her off right away, walks out and breaks up with him, who keeps saying “I don’t know better”. His persistent calling and delivering her flowers to mend their relationship all fail. Betsy’s rejection disappoints him and puts her in his mind like the rest of city people whom he detests.
Scorsese takes a brief part in the film as well when one night, he rides Travis’ taxi. When he tells Travis that he’s going to kill his wife and his lover with a 44 magnum to rip them apart, in his unspoken mind runs the idea of cleaning up the city off the filth that way. So soon he buys his guns and starts training himself back to shape to actualize what he has been wishing for long. When he meets a gun dealer, instead of one, he buys all his guns in two brief cases. Soon he finds his first target, when on night the teenage prostitute, Iris (Jodi Foster) tries to run away from his pimp and gets into his taxi, but the pimp, Charles “Sport” Rain (Harvey Keitel) pulls her out. He starts following Iris in the following nights to spot her pimp again. He finally find Sport and pays him to be with Iris. To the surprise of Iris, he has no intention of having sex with her, but wants to rescue the runaway teen from all that mess and send her back home to her parents. He takes her out on a breakfast date the next morning when he encourages her to quit all that as she deserves more than prostitution and let a druggy pimp run her life. He even offers her money to go back home, but later on Sport continues fooling her that he needs and loves her so to stay and go on with selling her body for him.
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