Movie Fact #229 - July 17th, 2021
Martin Scorsese's 1976 classic Taxi Driver is filled with little details that make it deservingly one of the greatest films of all time. No more so than in the crafting of the lead protagonist, Travis Bickle (Played by Robert De Niro) who was specifically written as a Vietnam vet because, at the time, it was believed the national trauma from the war would fit the character's paranoid psychosis. A psychosis that leads to Bickle deciding to assassinate Senator Palantine in the climax. It is here that Bickle cuts his hair into a mohawk, an image that has become engrained in the minds of cinemaphiles. This detail was suggested by actor Victor Magnotta, a friend of Scorsese, who had a small role as a Secret Service agent and who had served in Vietnam. Scorsese later noted:
"He told us that, in Saigon, if you saw a guy with his head shaved—like a little Mohawk—that usually meant that those people were ready to go into a certain Special Forces situation. You didn't even go near them. They were ready to kill."
And so was Bickle after the film built to him deciding to take matters into his own hands. The result is one of the most distinct and revered performances of De Niro's or any actor's career. Stay tuned!