Taxi Driver

on February 08, 1976 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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One of the most controversial films of '76 is Martin Scorsese's Robert De Niro starrer for Columbia. Paul Schrader's script is a combination of "Mean Streets" and "Death Wish," plus an unblinking view of New York's seamier side which could very easily be the first solid hit of the year. The critics have lavishly praised the film, with accolades for Scorsese's incisive direction, the script, De Niro's fascinating portrayal of a rugged individual and the acting in general. In support, Cybill Sheperd is perfectly cast as the object of De Niro's affection, comedian Albert Brooks and former TV critic Leonard Harris do fine dramatic work and such distinctive types as Peter Boyle, Harvey Keitel and Murray Moston make impressions (Scorsese has a bit as a passenger who intends to kill his faithless wife). Outstanding, and deserving all kinds of awards, is Jodie Foster, an adolescent actress who portrays a sub-teen hooker. Centering on De Niro, the Michael and Julia Phillips production mixes politics, prostitution and philosophy as a complex man attempts to combat the corruption he can no longer tolerate. The language and a nightmarish gun battle account for the R rating. Scenes depicting the "hero" practicing with his weapons are highlights.

THE STORY:
Restless Robert De Niro, an ex-Marine, becomes a New York Cab driver. Unable to sleep, even after long shifts, he frequents porno movie houses and observes the human garbage which he comes to hate, particularly the hookers and their breed. De Niro is attracted to Cybill Sheperd, campaign worker for Presidential candidate Leonard Harris. She's fascinated by De Niro's philosophy, while her co-worker Albert Brooks immediately dislikes him. When De Niro takes her to a sex film, she becomes disgusted and refuses to see him again. De Niro tries to get advice from fellow cabby Peter Boyle, then decides to arm himself. He becomes friendly with underage hooker Jodie Foster and attempts to rescue her from her pimp and lover, Harvey Keitel. With a Mohican-type haircut, De Niro nearly becomes an assassin at a Harris rally. In a bloody climax, he frees Foster by killing Keitel, Murray Moston and mafia collector Robert Maroff. Badly wounded, he recovers and gives Sheperd a ride in his cab.

EXPLOITIPS:
Tie in with the Bantam Books paperback edition of the screenplay. The names of Oscar winner De Niro and of Scorsese, plus the critics' raves should do the trick.

CATCHLINES:
On every street in every city in this country there's a nobody who dreams of being somebody. He's a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he's alive. Columbia 112 mins.

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