Watching Taxi Driver and Raging Bull this weekend. What should I watch for?

I love Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. This weekend I am going to rent Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. I know these are two very famous films, and I figure that I lot of people reading this forum have seen them.

I was just wondering (with out spoiling the movies for me) if there are things I should watch for. Or maybe even just trivia that you know about the movies, behind the scenes action for… Just anything you want to tell me about them!!!


FYI I just realized that I worded that first sentence strangely. I know that Al Pacino isn’t in either movie! :slight_smile:

I guess I just shared a little extra info.

Are you talking to me?!

Watch out for Coach from Cheers, he plays a mafia boss in Raging Bull. His character is so different to his role in Cheers that I didn’t even know it was him until someone pointed it out. He’s a great actor.

Raging Bull is the better of the two, IMO. More polished, more stylish, more engrossing. All the acting is high quality. Both are excellent movies, though.

The boxing scenes are THE best of any fight movie.

[sub]Don’t even mention “Rocky”.[/sub]

You f*ck my wife?

You f*ck my wife?

Did you f*ck my wife?

When We Were Kings?

Few bits about Taxi Driver (none are big secrets)
–The “You talkin’ to me?” scene was total improv by DeNiro. The script read only “Travis looks into mirror”

–Look for the Scorsese cameo in the back of Bickle’s cab. Depending on your interpretation, he is either spying on his adulterous wife or simply indulging paranoid delusions.

–Scorsese claims the most important scene is Travis calling Betsy for another date. The camera pans from Travis to a long, barren hallway, implying that the conversation is too pitiful to observe.

Martin Scorsese has a small role in “Taxi Driver” as an irate cab fare who rants to DeNiro about his cheating wife.
The story goes that an actor was hired to play that part, but never showed up to perform it, so Scorsese did it himself.

I’ll comment on Taxi Driver since I know it much better.

• One of the inspirations for Paul Schrader’s script was Harry Chapin’s song, “Taxi.” Travis’ character is loosely based on Arthur Bremer, who stalked Presidential candidate George Wallace before shooting but not killing him in 1972.
• The scene where Travis says, “you talkin’ to me?,” was ad-libbed.
• Look for Martin Scorsese in the back of the cab one night.
• The movie caused a HUGE controversy when first released because of its violence (which seems tamer today). Critics were divided about the movie and its message, but not about DeNiro’s performance. It is his best, IMHO, because of the subtleties, the nuances; the way DeNiro builds the character up layer by layer – strip away the guerilla gear and the Mohawk and it would all still work. It’s extraordinary. Watch how he has no clue as to how to develop a relationship with the nice girl, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd). His attempts to court her, and to “save” Iris (Jodie Foster), are moving and pathetic at the same time. (Note scene in the long hallway when Travis is on the phone w/Betsy.)
• A truly great American film. One of my all-time Top Ten. And one of my favorite scores, by Bernard Herrmann or anyone else.

In Raging Bull, the boxing rings are of different sizes to represent Jake’s mental state in each fight.

Notice the structure of Taxi Driver PLOT SPOILERS
Iris and Patsy represent Travis’s two ideas of women: the whore he can have but doesn’t want and the pure, virginal one he wants but can’t have. Travis tries to kill Palantine, the father-figure for Patsy, but is thwarted, so instead kills Sport, Iris’s father-figure.

In Raging Bull, here is something to watch out for: Raging Volume Incosistancy.

You will be forced to turn up the TV to max volume to hear the actors whispering to each other in a few scenes, then, a half-second later watch the paper cones in your speakers blowing out the front, with the grill material when the next scene starts. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it is “part of the mood” or some other horseshit, it makes the film nearly unwatchable.

I attempted to watch it while the wife was in the other room sleeping. After a few rounds of “max volume/mute/max volume”, I gave up on most of the dialog, since it was pretty inane anyway, and resigned to watching the rest guessing what was being said.

Eh, whatever. I don’t want to spoil it for you, and if you are a DiNiro fan, I’m sure I didn’t. Enjoy, but be warned!

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

You know, one of the contrapuntal scenes in Taxi Driver for me has always been the surprisingly tender slow dance scene between Harvey Keitel and Jody Foster. It is a glimpse into the eye of the hurricane that must have been that little girl’s life.

Another thing about “Taxi Driver” :

I read (can’t recall where, there are too many books about this film) that the original draft for the movie that eventually became “Taxi Driver” was loosely based on the John Wayne movie “the Searchers.” The premise of the that movie has Wayne as an overtly racist cowboy “rescuing” his niece from Indians against her will – she actually prefers life with the indians.


Originally, Travis was to be an overt racist, and Iris’ pimp was going to be a black man. Like Wayne did in “The Searchers”, Travis rescues Iris against her will. That was considered too inflammatory a premise for the early 1970s, so the racism was toned down. Traces of it still turn up however. Note how every black man that appears on screen is shown as somewhat menacing & creepy, it is a deliberate reflection of what the Travis Bickle character thinks about all black people.

There’s a VERY subtle theme of violence running through both films - keep an eye open for it…


Reality doesn’t count.



Seriously though, in the case of Raging Bull, I found the violence more real, somehow more hard hitting, due to the way it was directed and acted. De Niro plays the role of the jealous insecure boxer dead on, and he comes across as genuinely scary in some scenes.