Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Picking a small bone with the ‘Taxi Driver’ script

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in the 1976 film 'Taxi Driver'

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in the 1976 film 'Taxi Driver'

Saw the monster Martin Scorsese movie Taxi Driver tonight at the Bell Light Box.

It’s unquestionably one of the great films of the 1970s (it’s number 45 on TIFF’s list of the 100 essential films), and I love the way it captures the street life of Manhattan during that period of urban decay in the Big Apple.

Very early in the film, the cab company manager asks Travis Bickle (played brilliantly by Robert De Niro) if he was moonlighting.

“What’s ‘moonlighting’?” he asks.

But then, there’s this classic bit of Paul Schrader-penned dialogue that follows not long after:

All the animals come out at night.

Whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies.

 Sick, venal.

Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.*

* This YouTube clip has that dialogue snippet

Call me crazy, but if Travis didn’t know what ‘moonlighting’ meant, do you really think he would be using ‘venal’ inside his own head?


There are other examples. Great as the movie was, I think it could have been a little better had the internal voice of Travis not been so discordant in comparison with how he actually spoke.

PS – I tweeted this tonight:

Since it goes well with rainy, foggy urban nights, Bernard Herrmann: “Theme From Taxi Driver” –

Sun, October 24 2010 » Film, Main Page, multimedia