“All the animals come out at night: whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. One of these days a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets...”
“Listen you fuckers, you screwheads! Here is a man who would not take it any more! A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up!”
|I told you not to pick it...|
The young De Niro is amazing here. His scenes conversing with himself in the mirror are famous, but for most of the film he is flat and empty. All we have are his eyes flickering. Nor is he the only actor that appears here years before we become more familiar with them. Frankly, the idea that he won an Oscar for his fleeting appearance in The Untouchables but not for carrying Taxi Driver is an insult. Keitel – who starred alongside De Niro in Cop Land - not only has hair, he has a mane of the stuff, black and flowing. As the twelve-year-old hooker Jodie Foster is old before her times, debating her life precociously with Travis over breakfast (a breakfast that, admittedly, consists of jam and sugar toast sandwiches while she tries on different pairs of sunglasses). Scorsese himself even appears in one scene as a jealous and murderous husband. Only having seen him before as the avuncular bushy-eyebrowed Marty of recent years I completely failed to recognise the black-bearded sociopath in the back of Bickle’s cab.
I understand now why Rudy Giullani is so feted in New York. I'm not saying that his 'Zero Tolerance' programme made all the difference between the NYC of Taxi Driver and the safe, relatively-clean city we can see today, but crikey, something was needed. It could be argued that New York has become bland, corporatised and homogenous compared to the edgy, grungy, New York of independent businesses seen in this film. But here's the question: where would you rather walk around at night?