Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting the streets nightly, growing increasingly detached from reality as he dreams of cleaning up the filthy city. When Travis meets pretty campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he becomes obsessed with the idea of saving the world, first plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate, then directing his attentions toward rescuing 12-year-old prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster). Screenwriter Paul Schrader drew on the mythology of 1940s film noir thrillers for this story of Vietnam vet Travis Bickle’s increasingly psychotic disgust at the nocturnal New York street life he observes from his taxi. Brought to vivid life by director Martin Scorsese – then one of Hollywood’s hot-property new filmmakers – the film is one of the 70s’ most strikingly original works.
Part of our New Hollywood season