The film stars Robert De Niro (Raging Bull (1980), Angel Heart (1987)) as Travis Bickle, Jodie
Foster (The Silence of the Lambs (1991)) as hooker Iris, Harvey Keitel (The Two Jakes (1990), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Bad Lieutenant (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), ) as the pimp Sport, Cybill Shepherd (The Last Picture Show (1971)) as Betsy, Albert Brooks as Tom, Leonard Harris as Charles Palantine, Peter Boyle (The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Hardcore (1979), Hammett (1982)) as Wizard, Harry Northup as Doughboy, Norman Matlock (Across 110th Street (1972)) as Charlie T, Martin Scorsese as Passenger Watching Silhouette, Steven Prince as Andy - Gun Salesman, Diahnne Abbott as Concession Girl, Bob Maroff as the Mafioso and finally New York City circa 1976.
The film and credits start with a cloud of steam hissing into the wet night on a Manhattan street.
Bernard Herman's dual score begins with stylized discordant city sounds that slowly build tension, punctuated by a pulsing beat that's ratchet sprung. The pressure is getting jacked. A yellow Checker Cab glides through the frame, dispersing the vapor and exposing the city.
|Travis (De Niro)|
The tension continues to escalate, The days go on and don't end, the score transitions into the slow methodical haunting beat of an ancient war drum. You get the impression that when the drum stops you know something is going to happen.
Travis Bickle: 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. I go
all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take 'em to Harlem. I don't care. Don't make no
difference to me. It does to some. Some won't even take spooks. Don't make no difference to me.
|Betsy...They... cannot... touch... her. (Shepherd)|
It's his destiny, but he tries too hard, he comes on too strong. He volunteers or Palantine. Betsy is intrigued though, Travis knows what he wants and she is flattered. They meet then make a date.
|exit from porn theater|
|Betsy gives Travis the brush|
|Travis left to the whores and skunk pussies|
The war drum beat begins again. The daily grind. Travis is boiling. Travis is nearing a tipping point. He confides to Wizard that he has this irresistible impulse, he's going to do something. He's got bad ideas in his head. He's going to break bad. Wizard doesn't pick up on this feeble cry for help. In Travis's hate for Betsy he's fixating on Palantine. Assassinating him will hurt Betsy.
|"I'm gonna do something"|
|Wizard (Boyle) and Travis (De Niro)|
|"Are you talking to me"?|
|Travis and Sport (Keitel)|
|Lt. to Rt. Charley T (Matlock) Wizard (Boyle), Doughboy (Northup), Travis (De Niro)|
|Sport (Keitel) and Iris (Foster)|
The cast is perfect, De Niro's universal hayseed in shitkickers, Travis, is thoroughly believable. His fellow cabbies, Wizard (Boyle), Doughboy (Northup), Charlie T (Matlock) add touches of comic relief. Cybill Shepherd, is excellent the caste campaign worker Betsy. Jodie Foster nails the part of Iris, though she comes off a bit too gawky looking for a streetwalker. Harvey Keitel plays a believable Pimp. He as a sequence with Iris where he displays his sweet talking, silver tongued devil, charm to control her. Albert Brooks is Betsy's nerdy, flirting, fellow campaign worker.