🎥🍣 Movie Sushi — Taxi Driver

AdGridley
7 min readOct 3, 2020
“You talkin’ to me?”

Travis Bickle can’t sleep. To make the most of his insomnia, he applies for a job as a New York City cabbie (cab number 3596) where he can work all night. He prides himself on going anywhere in the city and picking up all kinds of people — even on Jewish holidays. He doesn’t seem to mind having to wipe the semen and blood off his back seat. In his spare time, he passes the time relaxing in adult cinemas.

During his travels, he passes by the Charles Palantine campaign HQ on Columbus Circle. He spies a beautiful woman working inside. One day, he musters the courage to go in and volunteer — so he can talk to her. Admitting no knowledge of Palantine’s policies, he’s still eager to work with Betsy. He then remembers he has to sleep during the day, but nonetheless, he asks her out. He promises to be her friend because he tells her she’s lonely. He takes her for coffee and pie later that day at Childs Coffee Shop.

On the date, Betsy says he reminds her of a Kris Kristofferson song. Travis misinterprets her reference and vigorously denies having ever pushed drugs. When he’s back alone, he buys the record to show her he was paying attention. Their next date is to an adult cinema. Betsy has her doubts, but is persuaded to go in anyway. When there’s immediately an orgy onscreen, she storms out. Travis is dumbfounded. This is his “normal” after all. Outside, she catches a cab. Soon after, she stops returning his calls, and rejects his flowers. Just to be doubly sure she’s not interested, he visits Betsy at work. He damns her to hell, frightens her work mate with his martial arts, then leaves.

He realises now that Betsy’s just like the rest of them: cold and distant. Travis is still sick and tired of all the scum and filth he sees every night in the city while he’s out prowling for fares. He’s growing weary of all the crime, not to mention the child prostitution he witnesses. Through one of his cab driver friends, he meets Easy Andy — a travelling salesman. This man leads Travis upstairs several stories to an empty bedroom. There, he opens out two suitcases on the bed.

The 44 Magnum is a given. Travis asks outright for this gun before they’re even settled — even though it’s quite a long, expensive gun. Reassured that Travis has money, next on the agenda is a nickel-plated 38. You can hammer nails with it all day and it’ll still shoot dead centre. A Colt 25 Automatic and a 380 Walther both gain approval. Travis experiments concealing these guns under his shirt in the mirror. After the transaction is complete, Easy Andy starts offering all sorts of street drugs, even a brand new Cadillac as the men go their separate ways. But, Travis has what he came for.

Too much sitting has ruined his body, he’s got to get in shape. Stripped to the waist, Travis starts doing jumping press-ups and pull-ups in his flat. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. Fifty push ups each morning, fifty pull ups. He also holds his fist over a naked candle flame. There will be no more pills. No more bad food. No more destroyers of his body. He says all the king’s men can’t put society back together again.

He’s distracted even from his porn — we see him with his fingers in front of his eyes as he watches. Back at home, with his new personal arsenal, he fashions a spring-loaded holster using a drawer runner and a hacksaw — designed to be hidden up his sleeve. He wants to kill Palantine, linking the man with Betsy and her rejection earlier. At the rally, Travis sidles up to a very tall man in dark glasses. They get chatting and Travis ends up giving a fake name and address after having feigned interest in becoming secret service himself.

Travis is now more determined than ever — with Palantine campaign posters on his walls. He runs through ever more threatening scenarios — out loud — alone in his flat. Mainly, he’s looking in the mirror while explaining that he’s the only one there, you gotta be talkin’ to him. He repeatedly tests his sleeve-mounted, spring-loaded holster, which he’s pleased with.

He witnesses a robbery at his local Mexican-owned convenience store. Now armed to the teeth, he momentarily hides in the back by the fridges. He comes out blazing and kills the black robber, then remembers he doesn’t have a licence for the gun. The owner explains that he’ll cover for him and starts hitting the corpse with a crowbar. Travis quickly leaves the shop.

Back at home, Travis is watching TV. He’s full of resentment, wielding his 44 Magnum with menace. He writes a letter to his parents. He reassures them that he’s got a great girlfriend and that he’s working secretly for the government where he’s making lots of money. He hopes no-one has died and says he’ll appear one day at their door. On the TV is a white couple in a drama discussing divorce. He rocks the set — as he reclines — with his foot until finally it tips over and smashes on the floor.

Concerned about a child prostitute who tried to get in his cab so she could leave her pimp some days previous, Travis goes to buy a session with her for a while so they can talk. He finds her, she tells him to go to her pimp, Matthew. It’s fifteen dollars for fifteen minutes or twenty five dollars for half an hour. Matthew runs through the many degraded sex acts she’ll do for him in his allotted time. The girl is only twelve and a half years old.

In her room shortly afterwards, the girl lights a cigarette and rests it on the side. When the cigarette goes out, the time is up. He finds out her name is Iris. She’s intent on treating Travis like all the others, but Travis wants to rescue her in a macro sense. The two have crossed paths before, but each time, Travis did nothing. She claims not to remember these encounters, saying she must’ve been stoned to try fleeing her overall situation in his cab. During this time, she keeps moving to fellate Travis, who grows ever more insistent she needs rescuing.

The cigarette goes out and Travis asks to take her out the next day. At the café, she’s wearing big, green glasses, eating dry, white toast with jam on it. They talk about how she thinks her parents hate her and about the low-life Matthew, who she calls Sport. Iris then changes her glasses for some dark, blue ones. She then removes these and drinks some orange juice.

Sport is feeling romantic toward Iris — the two of them alone in a darkened room. It seems like he’s more spinning plates with his group of prostitutes rather than actually having any feelings for them. He tells her he wishes every man could know what it’s like to be loved by her. She’s always been successfully convinced that he loves her, but now Travis has appealed to her sense of self-worth. Also, he reminded her she should be at school.

Meanwhile, Travis is alone at the firing range. All of his guns are sounding louder than ever as he gathers resolve for his “true force” plans. He’s always wanted a rain to come and wash away the scum from the streets. Now, it’s becoming apparent he personally can do something about it. He takes a pill. He writes Iris a note — enclosing $500 so she can go back to Pittsburgh where her parents live. Travis is now on a suicide mission into the heart of New York City’s underbelly. His whole life is pointed in this direction and he’s armed to the teeth.

He shows up to the next Palantine rally wearing a Mohican haircut and his “We are the people” campaign badge. He takes a pill. When Palantine pulls up in a limo, Travis approaches him, putting his hand in his coat. Secret service see him and chase him off. Travis takes another pill back at his flat that he washes down with beer.

After nightfall, Travis brings his arsenal and goes to see Sport, who he quickly shoots in the stomach. He goes into their tenement building where he shoots the landlord in the hand. Still alive, Sport pursues Travis and shoots him in the neck. The client in with Iris also shoots Travis, whose spring-loaded holster works perfectly and decisively. The landlord still won’t die, so Travis uses the knife strapped to his boot.

Sometime later, the newspaper clipping on Travis’ wall reads Taxi Driver Battles Gangsters. He’s now out of his coma and has even received a letter of gratitude from Iris’ parents in Pittsburgh. She’s returned home and is slowly getting back to normal. Betsy from the campaign gets in his cab, they chat and Travis doesn’t charge her.

Starring Robert De Niro. Jodie Foster. Cybill Shepherd. Rated 18. Dir Martin Scorsese. Released in the UK 1976. Runtime 1hr 54mins

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AdGridley

Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)