Episode 23: Taxi Driver (1976) - Opening Scene Breakdown
12:34PM Jan 19, 2023
robert de niro
Whoa, just curious. Welcome to Just curious media. This is let's talk movies. And I'm Jason Connell, on the show. Today I'm joined by special guest, Sal Rodriguez.
Thank you, Jason. It's good to be here.
Yes, sir. You are coming back for our third in a row. opening scene breakdowns. These fun episodes. Yeah,
I'm honored to be a frequent guest. Thank
you. Yes, you are. And today, Sal, we are breaking down taxi drivers. 1976 opening scene. Classic Movies out I love this movie since I saw it. I didn't see it when it came out. I was too young. Sure I do. My parents would not have drugged me to see this. But when I did finally see it, it's right there among the classics, and probably gave me even more appreciation for one Martin Scorsese.
Yeah, absolutely. And I know we're going to talk about that I'm looking forward to it. For me personally, that is true as well. dinero appreciating dinero a young dinero is amazing, but also helped me personally to appreciate taxis in general. I I liked I liked the imageries and the iconography of taxis kind of what they represent I think they kind of represent something I don't know transition change maybe. So I have actually as a toy collector, a number of taxis unfortunately most of them I do not have at my disposal but I did have a couple available and here is a matchbox This is a there we go yeah. Is a a British taxi is what
you don't see that taxi driver but no, no sorry. Nice. It is
a British taxi that's made by Matchbox or Hot Wheels rather I think Hot Wheels but Matchbox is what happened. I think this one is made by kids smart.
Okay, who looks like DC cab?
Yeah, it's got the fishtails Oh, yeah,
like that. So taxi movie but more of a comedy.
So I have an affection I have over the years. It's ironic that I'm here on this podcast today. I have developed an affection for taxis. I have a number of diecast taxis within my overall toy collection.
All right. Well, that's great. You just need Travis pickles taxi. You
know what I think a customizer, there are these people that make these unofficial, unlicensed toys in their home. And I recently saw an image of a guy that made a customized Travis Bickle. Yeah, action figure. It was pretty amazing. It was praised. With a mohawk. Yeah, yeah, he did. He had it.
Yeah. So you beat me to the punch there. Of course, this movie also gave me such respect for Robert De Niro. Yeah, greatest living actor that we have among us. Al Pacino is right there, whereby I'm
gonna say, Hey, I'm not arguing with you, is the man that's saying a
lot. So we'll jump right in. We like to give the backstory of the movie who did it who's in it, but we really are going to focus in on the opening scene, because it really lays the groundwork for the movie we're gonna see. And although some of the other movies we've already done, we did Reservoir Dogs and war games, and even war games is like traumatic. There's a lot going on. It was like a thriller.
The other war games opening is like a cliffhanger.
cliffhanger. And then Reservoir Dogs was like, the first time we're getting exposed to Tarantino is dialogue and like, what's going on? This one's not that it's more subtle, but it really does when you just watch it. It's like, oh, yeah, yeah, you can really see the signs and didn't really know what kind of movie you're about to watch. Just even the opening imagery leading into the opening scene. It's like, Ah, I just love it so much. So, so much to unpack. Another fun time, Sal. And here we go. Yeah,
I'm ready. All right.
So we'll start with, again, taxi driver. 1976 46 years old. So that's about your age.
Yeah. I like to just think of myself as a late 40. Something. Sure.
It's about orange. The synopsis for this movie, pretty heavy. Sal also says a lot about this movie. A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where they're perceived decadence, and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action.
You know what, you know what's so what's so crazy? Jason? Like, if you were to say, hey, Sal, would you please write a synopsis for this movie? I wouldn't have written it that way. No, I wouldn't have you know why? Because do we automatically know that he's mentally unstable? I think he kind of becomes he's just like an awkward guy up front, right? We don't know that. He's mentally unstable for like the first half of the movie,
ex military and went through some things probably probably in Vietnam, maybe some PTSD. He is unstable. He is but
I'm saying I don't think it revealed itself until later, right. I don't think right off the bat. We know that he's unstable.
You know what I know about this movie more than anything. It demands repeat. viewing.
I'll agree with you on that. I will agree with you. I will
go back and go, Oh, yeah, no notice little nuggets. And it's like, it is something you just have to concern yourself every few years with, which is why it belongs on the show, Sal. And we probably should do a scene by scene breakdown of the movie. But right now we're in this little hybrid and trying these new things. But this one deserves the entire movie to be covered. But I do go back and watch this every few years and enjoy it like, well, you have synesthesia. So every time you watch something's probably like watch it for the first time. Yeah,
well, because I forget a lot. I forget a lot. Sure, but I know
it, but it's like, oh, yeah, it looks like this. And maybe I pick up on something. But I'm always kind of surprised and how effective it is. You know, like, oh, my gosh, I cannot believe this. And it's rough. I'm rooting for him. Yeah, gritty
and raw. Doesn't that is that is that reflective and indicative of the era itself? You think?
Well, New York was very different in the seven Yeah. Before Giuliani came in and cleaned it up. And Paul Schrader, who wrote it, his stuff is very dark and gritty and seedy. This way. I mean, American Gigolo, we don't go too far away. You know, it feels connected.
You know what it's like. It's almost like when you watch movies of this in the spirit, like this. It's almost like, should I be watching this? This makes me feel uncomfortable. Should I be? Should I even be watching this? Right, exactly. And you know, what, if a movie can make you visceral, especially if you are a movie lover, especially if you're a movie lover? Yeah, you're like, this movie is making me feel a little uncomfortable. Yeah, that's good. That's good. It's effective.
Exactly. Well, the director who I talked about earlier, Martin Scorsese, written by as I just said, Paul Schrader, the genre crime drama. covers it. I always just put the IMDB genres. Now the ratings for this movie 8.3 on IMDb, and 96%. On Rotten Tomatoes, tomato meter. Pretty high.
That's one of the best scores that's out there. Yeah. Well,
I've seen higher on that you've seen higher than this. Well, random it is a little more favorable I am to be it's impossible to keep it up like
9.0. I forget that scores can go up and down. Yeah, but these
are really good scores. Yes, yes. And this movie was released on February 9 1976, the year of the bicentennial. And I first watched this on VHS in the 90s. I want to say Yeah, probably. I do not recall that exact screening, but it was in that time where I was like, Wait a second. What? I'd heard about it forever, right. I'd find my dad like doing some of the lines from the movie, but I had no reference. Yeah, well, I finally saw it. I'd already seen other Scorsese movies. And I thought, oh my gosh, it blew my mind. I wanted to see more of the younger Scorsese. Sure. What about you? Do you remember your first viewing?
I'll tell you exactly how I was drawn to this movie. It was probably about 10 years ago that I saw it for the first time. I might have picked it up on DVD through Netflix maybe? Or from somebody I saw it about 10 years ago for the first time. What drew me to the movie was Jodie Foster. And what drew me to Jodie Foster was my love of Bugsy Malone. I love Bugsy Malone, so many people. So many people don't know Bugsy Malone, but you get to see it's one of my favorite movies of all time and I love Bugsy Malone. Jody, Jodie Foster plays sort of an adult character. Bugsy Malone is a movie with all kids, but in adult roles,
adult roles and gangsters. Yeah,
it's a kid's world, but they're all doing adult things. So Jodie Foster played a magnificent character in Bugsy Malone. I fell in love with her. And she drew me then to taxi driver. So I watched taxi driver for Jodie Foster.
Who was a kid in this movie too. Yes, yes. And Jane way above her age as well. Most disturbing. disturbing. Yeah, that's interesting. Sounds very interested in deed, or the budget for this movie, which is also crazy. $1.3 million. Now that's like a drop in the bucket. This is the 70s Scorsese was this wasn't his first film. He did main streets and a bunch of movies before that, but still building up a name who's dinero like young dinero? Sure. So it's probably a lot of money for a young filmmaker making a movie in the streets of New York City. But it's also like nothing right shooting on real film. Now the US and Canada grossing US North America $28 million gross. Now this is I don't know how far these numbers go back. But whatever it was, that's a successful movies probably made a lot more in the digital markets in the ancillary markets and downloads and streams. But obviously a success. It still holds up and look at these two careers, just isolating Scorsese and De Niro. I mean, come on. Jason,
it just occurred to me you look at something like this a budget of 1.3 million with a gross of 28 million. I mean, jeez, that's a big time success. Have you talked about or have you considered box office successes like great Just box office successes when you compare budget to gross.
It's a great idea. Now what you're not seeing this is just the gross. So you're not getting the PNA the prints and advertising that we're not seeing the net, you know, to roll it out the theaters has a cost. And it's funny, so they're not real big on sharing numbers. Sure. You'll just get these numbers like when was this updated? Yeah. So it's this kind of, it gives you a little bit of an idea. But yeah, it'd be fun. I'd rather look at the opposite side of that. So box office bombs that became successes after the fact like Shawshank Redemption, this box, right? Yeah, the old nobody put a lot behind them. Yeah, put it in a few markets didn't take but then on VHS, it becomes one of the greatest movies ever. I like those stories. No, I
like it's a success story. Yeah.
So interesting there and the crew. Now I'm going to talk about just a few people obviously, but their backgrounds and what they went on to do because this cast right here as far as the director and the main actor goes a lot of Oscar nominations, some wins. So they went on to be big players in the space and they still are sure. So Martin Scorsese was Oscar nominated for Best Director for Raging Bull. 1980 The Last Temptation of Christ 1988 Goodfellas. 1990. Gangs of New York 2002 The Aviator 2004 You go 2011 The Wolf of Wall Street 2013 and the Irishman 2019. Nominated for all of those for Best Director, Oscar winner, Best Director, the departed 2006 Phenomenal movie,
he only won once.
Well, that's a travesty in itself. For sure,
why did I just automatically assume that he won multiple times?
So yeah, I mean, look at that he could have easily won for Raging Bull. How did he not win for Goodfellas, but you know, it's a contest. You're going against other people. It's political. But that's how many nominations he got a one for the department, which is amazing.
You know, it's pretty amazing. Also, I'm looking at this list with Scorsese. If you look at his resume, The Last Temptation of Christ, it almost doesn't belong. You know what I mean?
Yeah, also written by Paul Schrader. Interesting, very interesting.
I forgot the Last Temptation of Christ was directed by Scorsese. I forgot and
he comes off that which was very controversial. probably wasn't a hit, but then he hits it out of the park with Goodfellas. Wow. I mean, he may have had the best movie of the 80s with raging bull 1980. And the best movie of the 90s with Goodfellas, like, really? They both came out first, you know? 1980 9090. I mean, I don't know if there's anything better in those 10 years that came out. So yeah, and we're talking about this movie from 76. So, obviously, a legend in the space. Oh, yeah. Then Paul Schrader, the writer, now he was writer, director of American Gigolo, which we've talked about on this show, phenomenal movie. He also wrote Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, as I just said, Oscar nominated for Best Original Screenplay, first reformed 2017. I don't know that movie, but that's not too long ago. And Schrader is continuing to make movies had a new movie come out just recently, so he's still writing directing to this day. And next we have Michael Chapman, rest in peace, passed away in 2020 at the age of 84. Now, so Michael Chapman came to the United Film Festival in Los Angeles, for the the shark is still working, screening, and he was on stage with other people from Jaws. And I met him that night. And actually, we communicated, and we had lunch one day in Los Angeles. Why? Because I was I was enamored with his work. I knew his work very well, which I'm about to share what is and he,
you had lunch with the cinematographer of taxi driver?
I did. Yeah. And we talked about just the business. And he had such a great time at the festival. And I was just picking his brain and he was also teaching some classes at college, not in state out of state and he was living in Los Angeles and just giving back sharing his stories, and we had Indian food. It was such a good time. I remember it vividly. And I would have loved to have more lunches with Mr. Chapman. So rest in peace,
rest in peace. And that's a phenomenal memory.
Funnily I was great. So cinematographer of this film. Now his career real quick, just some bullet points, camera operator on the Godfather and jaws, so not the cinematographer, but you're doing the camera, you're working with the cinematographer. So great start there, Mr. Chapman Godfather in Jaws. Then he goes on to become the cinematographer for Invasion of the Body Snatchers. One of my favorite movies I might add. That was
one with Donald Sutherland. Donald Sutherland. Yes, yes. The Lost
Boys, Scrooge. And then he was Oscar nominated for Best Cinematography for Ray A gene bull and the fugitive and raging bull is 1980 and the future of 1994. So, you know, Raging Bull incredible and the future is an amazing movie with Harrison Ford and credible.
I saw Raging Bull as a kid, either at the new art or the VISTA my mother took me. Yeah, but it was so long ago. And I still have though have not seen the fugitive. What I got to see that
I gotta see, oh, my and Tommy Lee Jones was also amazing in that so
well, I know there's a scene where he's in that like sort of tunnel and then he falls
backwards. So many good scenes.
I got to see it. I got to see that one.
What you can start to see the team that was assembled and they're young, and they're just so talented. And there's a reason this movie holds up. So next, the composer Bernard Herrmann, rest in peace, he passed away in 1975 at the young age of 64. Now, when you were researching this and going over nodes of watching the movie, you hit on this sound, I was very impressed because Herman's work goes back to the Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the Twilight Zone, but you spot it out on your own.
I used to watch when I was young reruns of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour. And the Twilight Zone, of course, absolutely grew up with the Twilight Zone. Big fan today. In fact, over my shoulder here, right here where my fingers are pointing our Twilight Zone action figures from various episodes here. So I'm a big fan of Shatner. Yeah. When you can see that. Yeah. And also a Burgess Meredith with the books. Yes. I'm a big Twilight Zone fan lifetime. When I'm watching taxi driver, I'm thinking, Why am I here in The Twilight Zone. Why am I hearing it? Yeah. Bernard Herrmann. Well, rest in peace, then thank you.
Boy, you also went on to be Oscar nominated for Best Score for Citizen Kane 91 Anna and the King of Siam 1946 obsession 1976. And this movie taxi driver, 1976. Oscar winner for best score of all the money combined. 1941. So amazing work to score. So I bought it so long ago. In fact, when I watched this movie, it gets back in my head. And I find myself going to the score more often. It's just so haunting and wonderful and cinematic. So incredible work. In fact, I should probably see some of these of course, besides Citizen Kane, I should probably see some of these other movies that he did and was nominated for and one four, because I'm sure the scores are fantastic.
I'm gonna pay attention next time I see Citizen Kane, I will watch it again and only watched it for the first time only within the last year. So I'll give it another watch. Now listen for Bernard Herrmann, for sure.
Yes. And it was nominated for Best Picture did not win. Unfortunately. I don't know what one I didn't bring that up.
Yeah. Interesting. I want to know what beat it what beat taxi driver in that year?
Yeah. So into the cast. Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle. We know Robert De Niro. We've grown up with Robert De Niro. But here's a quick breakdown of just Oscar nominated or wins. He's in. Okay,
I'm doing the face. Are you soon?
Oh, yeah, that's it. That is definitely I'm doing the dinero
He is Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Silver Linings Playbook. Fantastic. 2012 love that movie. Now just a supporter there. Oscar nominated for Best Actor and taxi driver 1976 The Deer Hunter 1978 a fantastic movie. So yeah, you mentioned that resort movie. Kick. This is one of my faves. Yeah, awakenings, Cape Fear 1991. The Irishman 2019. And then Oscar winner for Best Actor, the Godfather Part 219 74 and Raging Bull 1980. So dinero is great as he is he's one to honestly sell. He deserves more. Is Robert De Niro.
Yeah, but uh, you know what, I think that I'm noticing something. And this is rekindling that thought is that oftentimes if an actor wins, you know, a few years back, they're kind of like, well, he won. We don't need to. Let's give it to somebody else's give it to somebody younger. You know what I mean? It's like, even though he might deserve maybe like, he won one already.
Yeah, it's like Meryl Streep always nominated doesn't win all the time. Because it's like, what she's always going to be great. So yeah, that's very true. And by the way, Awakening's was 1990. So, incredible career and there's so many more I could just sit here for a whole episode and rattle off his great performances
for sure. Meet the Fockers. Hello.
He can do comedy can your comedy Yeah, he's
good at comedy. He is and you know what's funny about watching dinero doing comedy? I almost feel like like I'm on edge. Yeah, exactly. I mean, like, is he gonna like be mean at some point? I'm waiting for him to be mean. You know?
You have to watch King of Comedy if you haven't seen it. That is that uncomfortable. Dark Night performance that is brilliant and other score. says the film that's yeah, you need to see it for sure. And that brings me up to other people in the scene. We're breaking down and there's only a couple dinero been the mainstay. And there's Joseph Bunnell. Now he was born Joseph Spagnola. And rest in peace we lost Joe far too young 1989 At the age of 52, very young, he placed a personnel officer in this scene. But you've seen Joe spinella His work in movies like Rocky, Rocky to night shift, the first Ron Howard movie but the Rocky movies I remember him in those movies. So he is fantastic. Do you remember him and those sound now that you've gone back and see
No, I'm going through my brain and I of course I know the Rockies but I don't remember who he played in Rocky, Rocky and rocky to both of them. Yeah, he's the same guy. Really? Who was in Rocky? He's probably like one of the coaches or something.
Now he's like at the fights. He's always got like Rocky's back does even have a name and rocket. Yeah, Gaza. Gaza says that was like his name up.
Oh, he's like he's part of the train. He's also
kind of like Italian. I think he's rooting him on. He's not part of the training team. But he's definitely prominent and has a couple of scenes because he just so recognizable, interesting. And he was also in The Godfather, but he's uncredited, officially, but you see him in there. Wow. Yeah, he's in the godfather for sure. The original Oh, and the sequel. So Godfather Godfather Part Two. He plays we'll see. See, but he was uncredited in the first one. So yeah, I should have mentioned that as well. So this guy was in great movies. No kidding me. And I found out today. I mean, I know we lost him very early in life. And apparently he had that condition where you get caught and your blood can't clot,
right? Oh, yeah. haemophiliac. And
so he cut himself apparently in the shower. He had a bad spill, cut his back called his friend or someone like hey, come by bring something by and bled to death before they got oh my gosh. So it was a total fluke ish thing. Very sad. And I looked him up today just to kind of get the timeline. And I see that he's related to Steve Spagnola. And Steve is a very well known football coach, NFL football coach. But he's won two Super Bowls as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. And most recently for the Kansas City Chiefs. I've watched his career. I had no idea. There were dozens. I found that out literally a few hours ago. Like are you kidding me? That's how the world works, man. Yeah,
very cool. No, I love that. Look, I tell you time and time again, I have a love hate relationship with the internet. Yeah, one of the loves is being able to find all kinds of cool information and trivia. People having their paths crossed, and then you discover how maybe your paths cross. I really do enjoy that.
Well, that's amazing. That was total shocker today, but I knew that we weren't seeing him in movies. So a years ago, I was like, What happened to that guy? You know, you'll do that too. Like Adam, did he quit acting and then you find out more often than not that they passed away, which is an unfortunate side effect to us. primates. We don't last forever been made some great work. He's great in the sand. We're going to break down. Also in the scene. I added him in here is Peter Boyle. Of course, I was gonna mention him anyway, because rest in peace. We lost him in 2006 71. But he plays wizard. He's in movies. Again, Frankenstein. Red heat. Everybody Loves Raymond, the famous TV show. Everybody knows Peter Boyle. But he's in his movie.
Hang on, Jason. If I yeah, I had forgotten you have a figure? Well, I actually do. It's over there. Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein. There's a two pack with Peter Boyle as Young Frankenstein along with Gene Wilder. Yes, right. There they are together in a two pack. I'd forgotten. But yeah, so Hey, pick yourself up a Peter Boyle action figure available by Miko putting on the Ritz. That's right, and exactly does that
seem okay, so in this scene, he's barely in it. But he has more prominent role in the movie. But this particular scene, he's more window dressing, which we're going to talk
about, yeah. Extra in this seat is
essentially an extra Yes. And then there's Harry Fischler, and he plays the dispatcher. And so he may have been a real dispatcher because this is his only film credit. Well, so I think they may have said, Hey, Cass, that guy. Yeah, that guy's job. I'll take,
can we just record you you keep going. You keep that you
just keep doing what you're doing. So quickly. Who else is in the movie we're not going to talk about but reason to come back is one Jodie Foster, as you always said earlier, I've
had a crush on her for years. I love Jodie Foster. I really do.
Well, I'd be happy to know that she had an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and taxi driver in 1976. So oh, well done. And she was only 12 years old at the time, so I thought she was
14 at the time. Believe me, I really hope she is 14 otherwise, some of her interactions are even more cringe. Well,
I read that her sister, her older sister, which a few years older life was over 18 some shots they would use her sister and those more uncomfortable feelings. So they would not use the very young majority for
her own sister playing her body double. Yes. Interesting. I didn't never heard.
So I'm reading here online just to make sure Foster was 12 at the time and played teenage prostitute. She was 12. And her sister was older and they like for body double scenes. They use the sister, could
you imagine them doing this today? No way would this happen again today.
And she is fantastic. And this is not even the stuff that goes over the line. I mean, when they're having lunch, and it's like, oh my gosh, you could just tell that she was going to go on and become Jodie Foster. It's amazing. Her exchanges with dinero. And the movie just keeping up with him.
She is great. She is a great actress. And from such a young age holy cow. She was a better actress at 12 than I was at 40. You know what I mean? Totally. Hey, what?
I didn't mean that. I didn't mean I just agreed. I'm just agreeing. I don't know. So you were pretty good at 40. Civil Shepard was great in this movie. She plays Betsy. I mean, she looks very cute, very beautiful. In fact, I read something where the casting agent was like, Hey, we're looking for a civil Shepherd type. And then the person's like, how about civil shepherd? And she was available.
Because you know what? I discovered Sybil Shepard during moonlighting when I was much later. Yeah, when I discovered Hello, her co star, Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis. There we go. So I discovered them during moonlighting and then went back and then you see their previous work. So now to see her in this role. Oh, an absolute treat.
You guys see the Last Picture Show? If you've not seen it, the Peter Bogdanovich movie, that's where she was really discovered very young before that. Well, yeah. Jeff Bridges looks like fantastic. Yeah, it's that's an incredible movie. Also in the movie, Albert Brooks plays Tom. He works with Betsy there, you know, at the campaign headquarters. I'm a huge Albert Brooks fan as an actor. As a director's writer. I love Albert Brooks, and so great seeing him here in this hour. So,
Jason, since we're talking, I used to work as a trainer at 24 Hour Fitness and used to personal train Albert Brooks wife, Kimberly Brooks. How about that? Yeah, she's an artist, a very talented artist and the mother of their two children at the time. Anyway, they had two children. It was a pleasure training her she would give me some behind the scenes stuff about Albert and his goings on with other people of his ilk. So it was a nice time at 24 Hour Fitness. We're going back about 15 years. So hey, Kimberly, if you hear this,
that's fantastic. And lastly, to round out the cast and more prominent cast, Harvey Keitel. Oh, Harvey, play believe it plays a great pimp does.
Well, I mean, I just again, discovering Harvey Keitel, I think in Pulp Fiction, I think, right. Well, I mean, for you for me. Yeah. But was the imperfection. Yeah, of course. So that's when I discover hard to tell. And now I go back. You have a cleaner. Yeah. Okay. So now I go back and say, Oh, my God. Yeah, very neat. Very neat.
Watch. Bad, Lieutenant. You want to see a side of Heartbreak Hotel that's deep, dark and even darker than sport.
I heard about that movie. I heard about that.
So that is it. That's that quickly. One bit of trivia. It's kind of sad, but it's also just shocking. Taxi driver would be the final film score, Bernard Herrmann ever composed, he finished the recording. And on the following day, which was Christmas Eve, he passed away at the age of 60. For
the following day. Yes. Wow. Wow. So
he finished it done. Didn't even get to see it on the big screen. The movies, I guess, dedicated to him.
No, you know what, Jason, this just reminds me what I've been thinking about recently, people talk about when someone's born, right. Astrologers talk about when someone's born. Isn't it just as significant when someone dies? That's, I think huge, I think so he completed this film and dies the next day. Amazing. Next
day is crazy. Wow. And the Stanley Kubrick died just when he finished Eyes Wide Shut. Wow. So I thought I've always thought about that. So here's another case. I didn't know this until I was researching this because I wasn't looking at Herman's in a lifespan. I didn't know I always loved his work, but that's why I like doing these scenes or these episodes, because I'm doing a deep dive and I'm discovering stuff. So very fascinating, and then too bad that he left us so early. We had so many more scores from the great Barnard Yeah,
cuz 64 What do you think about in the context of life? I think we kind of all at this point in 2022 we kind of all hope or imagine people will reach their 80s At least, right? Yeah, we feel 60s is far too. Yeah, we should all be in our 80s For sure.
Probably like touching the 90s Yeah, that's a good run the
exactly late 80s is a good run early. 90s a good run if you hit 100 Wow. Here's your trophy. You know what I mean? But yeah, 64 then does seem young. It does
very, very young. And look at 52 on spin out. That's spagnolo. So let's get into this opening scene breakdown.
Hang on here that a taxi going by, right? Oh
slomo Well, that's a good setup here because this Oh, yeah, bring it.
There's, there's a taxi go. Yeah, that's it. That's
just it's more cinematic in the seven. And that's a big part of it, I should say. But just 1970s New York is very different. You're never going to get it back. That's another reason why I love movies. Because you're not going to get unless it New York just goes downhill on it all. Garbage in the streets. And it's not going to happen. Like that was a time that you're only going to see in cinema and photos.
No, I like it. It captures a moment in time. And I especially as a West coaster. Yeah, look at that and go oh, that's what it was like, you know, that's what I know is what I see there on film
a lot of porn houses, you know, now they've whitewashed that whole city, you don't see that you're gonna see a Starbucks and you're gonna see a tripled day and a hotel. But I also read that there was a strike with the trash department or whatever. So yeah, during that filming, it was like great. It even looks dirtier, right, so they weren't picking up trash. So but I do feel this dreamy opening sequence like with the cab coming in and the slow motion Harmon score. It just captivates me. So every single time I watched this movie, the slow motion visuals, Herman's taxi driver theme, which I keep alluding to, and it also comes back throughout the entire film, it reprises itself, it's just so haunting, and it perfectly captures the mood of New York City at night in that era. And then we see De Niro, Travis Bickle. And he's already a taxi driver, no words are spoken it, this is just an opening sequence. You know, back in the day, we do opening credits, and it would take a long time to get to the movie, we don't do that as much. Now we don't have the patience. But this one's beautiful. Like the taxi goes by. And you see it reveals taxi driver, you know, that cool stuff. So, but we know now he's a taxi driver. However, in the first scene, which we're gonna be discussing, he's actually applying for the position. So it's kind of, you know, whatever, take that for what it is. But I also heard some commentary just the other day from Paul Schrader, I was kind of doing some research and, and he states that the movie is like a loop. And when it ends, it basically just starts again. And that's how he's the writers. This is his vision. And I found that to be pretty fascinating. So it's like, the movie ends, how it does the cab companies like he's walking back anytime, because he's kind of shot up. But then if this is a loop, then he's back in the cab, that dream sequence starts and it kind of all sets again, you know, it's just constantly in motion. It makes it really interesting. Why
it makes sense. If you think about the composer having done twilight zone in the past, you think about people like Schrader and Scorsese probably grew up on Twilight zones. So I would say there's a lot of Twilight Zone influence in this movie, and something like that. It's just sort of this. It's almost like a purgatory. Yeah, you're like, stuck there. You don't escape.
Yeah. So as for the scene, you can immediately tell that this film has such a sense of authenticity, and portraying the inner workings of a cab company, and the characters that run it. They don't just brush over that stuff. And that's what I love about Scorsese. It's like, this is a very mundane scene, like, I'm gonna go apply for a taxi job, okay? It's easy to dismiss. But as because it's in Scorsese's hands, it's like, oh, this is kind of interesting, right? I mean, and there's only two guys talking really
well job interviews. Everyone can relate to job interviews. Everybody can relate. They are inherently awkward, inherently uncomfortable. So I think every time we see a job interview on screen, I mean, we're on board right away. And then if you have two great actors, really, it brings the uncomfortable to life and makes the uncomfortable more uncomfortable.
And it works for the same. And you also get that sense of the patented Scorsese style with some camera pans. And as he exits the station, it's just that stuff that we're going to see more and more from Scorsese. So So let me set the stage. Vehicle Travis Bickle with vehicle T on the back of his jacket. Mind you, it says maybe it's military issue. I think it is actually. Okay, so we enters the taxi cab stations office and meets the personnel officer. Also through the window in the background, you see wizard having a playfully heated conversation with another cabbie, we don't know his name. And there's also the dispatcher behind Beko making calls. So there's a lot going on, which really adds to the layer of the scene, because he's over there dispatching like he's not stopping he's like, Yeah, you gotta go there that bridges out he's having what I like when there's a lot And there's even a guy kind of going back and forth sometimes. I don't know if he's going to a restroom, we don't even know that guy.
No, but you got to remember the time you have to appreciate the era itself. I mean, hell when I was running around working as an extra in movies, we had the Thomas guide. Well, now people are running around with with Google Maps and so forth. So you gotta respect that era. Didn't even have Thomas guides at that time. I don't know. I don't even know that. But they definitely didn't have Google Maps at that time. I
know those cabbies had to know the city. And then that guy's telling them where to go. Who to pick them up. Who's running late. If there's a traffic jam effect, I had a buddy. His day job was a dispatcher for Yellow Cab. So like totally legit, not this taxi driver scene. That was his job, but I'm sure he was like dialed in. I'm sure it was state of the art. But that's what he was doing. I would have loved to seen his setup. It was bigger than this. Dispatchers get up. Yeah, sure. You Well, then.
I mean, since we're talking the cab drivers, I've taken a hit since Uber. He was telling me
like, they're not fans of that. But people aren't good drivers and reliability. There is something to be said for calling a cab or someone to pick you up and get you to the airport on time. There's something to be said for that level of professionalism. You don't just get Uber Uber, you're getting random driver who's maybe Okay, driving.
Well, I've had good experiences with Uber and Lyft. Except for there was a couple guys that for some reason want to tell me their whole life story.
I don't know. Well, there's that too.
I think I'm guilty of and then what happened? You know, the Oh, wow. I'm guilty of that. But meanwhile, the guy is telling me his whole life story on the way to the airport, you know,
and that's what happens. Those people want to talk. They're lonely cabbies. They're professional cabbies. I want to talk. I don't discriminate. I like Uber and Lyft is the same. But I'm just saying, yeah, there's a difference. Yeah, yeah. And so the word hack is used in the scene we're about to kind of we're going to do the dialogue back and forth when we get into it. But I was like hack, and that is slang for cabbie. And it's derived from the British term, hackneyed, meaning overused and thus cheapened or trite now, had you ever heard that before? Because I didn't know that slang.
The word hack. I have absolutely heard in the world of comedy. Oh, of course. I've heard that. Yeah. But other than in the world of stand up comedy. I don't think I've heard it used much.
You're right. I've only heard it from that. He's that hack. Yeah. Like, why he's not good. He's
mainly like, the hack in its original term as far as the world of stand up comedy. Implied like maybe like, hey, so how about that airplane food? Yeah. Just like trite, mundane, nothing deep, nothing political. You know, it's not the high art of comedy as the comedy snobs would call it.
Yes. Take my wife, please. There you go. Exactly.
And by the way, just to be clear, I like all forms of comedy high and low hack, non hack. I like it all just for the record.
Right? Well, you're a comic you have to? Well,
I don't know. I have friends that are comedy shops. I got comedy snob friends. I do. Okay,
so this scene, so we've set it up. It's really Travis is coming in. He's trying to get a job, the personnel guys there. And I just thought it'd be fun to kind of go back and forth all play vehicle, you'll play the personnel officer, just because this exchange is great. Just their dialogue, where it goes, how they kind of get on the same page, and take from there.
I like scenes where it doesn't seem like they're acting, obviously, they are holding, but it doesn't seem like they're acting. It seems like this is a real, like we're really seeing these people talking.
Yeah, well, they're two amazing actors. Yeah. So there's that so we're just going to try to give it a shot.
So what do you want to hack for?
Because I can't sleep nights.
There's porno theaters for that. Yeah,
I know. I tried that.
So what do you do now?
Now, right around nights, mostly subways, buses, figure you know, I'm going to do that. I might as well get paid for it.
Why don't work uptown nights, South Bronx,
Harlem. Our work anytime,
anywhere. Where you work Jewish holidays,
All right, let me see your chauffeur's license. How's his driving record?
It's clean. It's real clean, like my conscience.
You're gonna break my chops. You know the troubled guys like you coming in breaking my chops all the time. If you're gonna break my chops, you can take it on the arches right now. You understand?
sighs I didn't mean that physical, clean. Age 26 education. Well, some I'm here. They're you know, military record. Honorable Discharge. May 1973. Were you in the army? Marines.
I was in the Marines too. So what is it? Do you need an extra job? Are you Moonlighting?
Well, I, I just want to work long hours. What's Moonlighting,
look up, just fill out these forms and check back tomorrow when the shift breaks.
So that exchange is fantastic fact when he looks down at the forms. It's like that patented like I said earlier Score says he like there's a pan and you see him like just the little things, the insert shot of him showing him the forms. And he wanted to dismiss vehicle right away being a wise ass busting his chops, right. But they're both Marines. And you can just tell like how that bonded people in that era in any era that they're probably today
by bottom today the same. Yeah, you
were in the, you know, whatever you're in the service. Okay, great. All right. I went to school here. I went to school there. I grew up there. But it really works here because it wins him over. He's like, guy, he's kind of one of my own. I'll take him under my wing. But it's a great exchange, and just the looks and because we're just going through the dialogue, there's lots of moments are just looking at each other sizing each other up. It's fantastic. Yeah,
there are some pauses here and there that we didn't do. Yeah, it's a great scene as an actor, if you're an actor, especially a fun scene to do.
Yeah, great exchange. I'm getting the sense. Like, here's a guy that's just looking for something to do fill a void in his life. So he's literally just riding and buses and subways and going around town at night because he can't sleep.
Yeah. So this goes back to the mentally unstable thing. I guess if a person needs to ride around on the subways at night, because they can't sleep. There's problems there.
And there's talk of these porn theaters. It's all over New York this time. He also says he's tried that well, that comes into play in this movie, because he does go on a date and takes a girl to a movie and doesn't know how to take a girl to a movie takes her to this type of movie. Yes. And it's like is awkward. He doesn't know he's got some unstable illness to him. And what he's doing on these buses and subways as a taxi driver, he's taken in the city, right? He's taking it in at night. It's not a very clean city. Hell, he's going to the South Bronx and Harlem. He's asked him that for a reason. So those aren't safe areas for a white taxi driver, probably to be working at night.
And later on. We see some scenes people are throwing garbage in bottles and stuff was sure, yeah, yeah.
And he's not too threatened by it. But he's an observer he's taking in life. And then slowly, but surely, some of that starts to fester. And he starts to want to have a purpose. Right? And maybe read the city of all this. Like he's got these big ideas, these big lofty dreams, the Mr. Taxi Driver, Travis pickle.
I'm just reminded in a situation like this, where you have somebody that could almost be considered a vigilante could, I'm reminded of falling down with Michael Douglas. I kind of almost feel like very much a movie like taxi driver had to have some inspiration for falling down.
I totally agree with you. If there was no taxi driver, there's probably no falling down.
And since we're talking Jason, I'll have you know, I was an extra in falling down, directed by Joel Schumacher. I was in the scene where he's ordering the hamburger and then it doesn't look like the picture and then he takes out the gun and we all freak out and you could barely see the top of my head in the background, checking out Michael Douglas with his gun. In fact, a friend of mine found that very seen a screenshot and did see the top I don't know, I don't know how my friends can identify me. I don't know how they can. But yeah, he's like, that's you Salma. Yes, yes, that is me.
Wow, that's awesome. Great movie. And yes, he's very similar. In this movie, though. He's, well, let's finish the scene. Sorry. I meant to say. Travis Bickle then exits the taxi cab station, and you get that shot I've talked about earlier, that pan, and then you kind of see all the cabs and the inner workings, the bowels of the station because he's left the office, right. And you just see like, even wizard walks by Peter Boyle. Someone else's running. There's this. It's a hub. It's like that TV show taxi, which I always love that show, by the way. Fantastic cast. And it's comedy. But you got to see like, oh, wow, there's a lot going on there. Yeah, it's a different era. There's a sense of excitement.
Yeah. So no sitting here as a West coaster growing up watching shows like tagging. You're watching. Oh my god. That's the way that's the way it is over there. Yeah.
But it was a great shot and he stepped out of the station. And they see a wonderful shot at 57th Street facts. Sophia was watching with me. I actually showed her taxi driver. I don't think she'd ever seen it before. She's like, that's an incredible shot. She lived not too far from there. decades and decades later. Yeah. But again, to see it on film like Wow, 57th Street. He's coming out another row of cabs. It's just beautiful. The colors, and well done. Scorsese Chapman De Niro Schrader. It's just a piece of art. Yeah, it's really what it is. And I
think it does hold up even though and I say even though you got the old taxis, even though you see our Brooks with the typewriter and all this. It still holds up. It captures a moment in time, but still holds up to this day.
Yeah, totally. So had you ever heard the phrase because I hadn't. Take it to the arches.
No, I had not means. Well, I'm assuming it has to do with walking, I guess
Yeah, to depart, especially on foot. So he's like, taking the arches, you're gonna bust my job. So I was like, What are you talking about? Well, that's exactly right. Road. Yeah. It's really fun.
We should bring that phrase back.
I don't know about that one. I know when we could bring back You talking to me?
Yeah. And that holds that holds the test of time. And oh my
gosh. So as this transformation occurs, and vecow, because he's got the job. And then he gets this new agenda. And he's chasing true love. And then that kind of pivots because she's into politics. And then he goes over that whole thing was like, burning his hand. Yeah, no shape, and just getting ripped, because he's like, a guy like this is kind of dangerous, right? Because he could pivot in a second on to something else, like, I'm really into this now. But this is dangerous, right? I'm gonna, I'm gonna get all these guns and not just to protect myself. But I'm going to take out this politician and show everybody. And then it pivots to something much better. But it's like, oh, my gosh, it's terrifying that someone like this can be influenced by the street and the environment and where he came from, and how many veterans probably just came back to nothing waiting for them.
Oh, you know, it come back to as what Rambo talked about, you know, people spitting, calling and baby yeller, and all that. So yeah, that was a interesting time. And I think set the stage for the whole, we need to take care of our veterans. You know what I mean? Like, I think that's what spawned
the troops. You might agree with this. But these are just pawns in the scheme of things. And
yeah, you have to consider their position within the whole military itself within the government, you have to consider all that. Yeah. So there we go. So he was, I don't know, like, might think that somebody might use the word Asperger's. Maybe a little bit of Asperger's a little bit on the autism spectrum a little bit. And then if you throw that on top of trauma from possibly war, I mean, yeah, it's a bad cocktail of mental health.
Absolutely. And there's like one shot like right after the opening scene, just I love the shots of him and the calves before even get going. I mean, there's even a scene where Score says he plays you know, he gets in the cat. Yeah, exchanged. And that's also dark and disturbing, but very disturbing things. But because it passes a movie theater, and I love this because I just happen to catch it. It's like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which came out in 1974. And return to the dragon 1972 or plane, which is also known as the way of the dragon, Bruce Lee. But it was just cool to see like, Oh, hey, what movies are playing? And then he goes by Yeah, that was probably a legit marquee up there. Exactly. The price shot this and 75 and some of these movies that was no VHS and what would happen is movies will get rereleased. A year or two later. Well actually, the Chainsaw Massacre may have still been in the theater. But return to the dragon the way the dragon probably got rereleased when I saw Star Wars in the theater. Two years later, I saw Star Wars in the theater Okay.
After there was no other option that's what they had to do
later. It was on TV like several years later on television but that was it for a while so they just do a rerelease.
I think I'm constantly blown away by the fact that my parents would take me to these movies when I'm saying that I should not have been I should not have seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre in its original release. I should not
use them in Asia may have been a self defense mechanism. Yes, it was
it was blocking up drama. I didn't see that. I just see that person get their head chopped off. I didn't see that. I'm only two. I'm not supposed to see that.
So that really covers the opening scene breakdown from taxi driver 1976 and sets the stage for an incredible movie incredible character. And yes, it does warrant repeat viewing. You really can go on his journey with him and enjoy it because there are sweet moments and then it gets dark again. Much like that score. Yeah, it's it's just perfect. And there's not much like I mean, yeah, falling down is similar like it's coattails, but it's inspired by it's not the cinematic it's not this artistic.
No, no, this was special. And I think then must have influenced people following Oh,
yeah, absolutely. in lots of different movies and roles and such. So that's all I got soundless you have anything else to add? We can wrap it up.
Ah, wow, that was a lot.
It was a lot. Yeah,
I mean, for the first scene for crying out loud.
Merci. Well, we don't just do the first thing we also give back right half of it is the background of the movie Sal. So keep that in.
Yeah, but this is heavy duty, a lot of fun and it gives me a greater appreciation for the movie and greater appreciation for Scorsese and De Niro.
Yes, absolutely. So without further ado, please enjoy taxi driver. So thank you so much for listening and please be sure to Subscribe to the let's talk movies podcast as well as the let's talk movies YouTube Live Channel. You can also really help us by giving the show a five star rating on Apple podcast
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