Stanley Motss: I’m in show business, yes? Why come to me?
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: I’ll tell you why. “54, 40, or fight.” What does that mean?
Stanley Motss: It’s a slogan.
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: “Remember the Maine.” “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.” They’re war slogans. We remember the slogans, not the wars. You know why? That’s show business. That’s why we’re here. Naked girl, covered in napalm. “V” for victory. Five Marines raising the flag, Mount Surabachi. You remember the picture in 50 years, but forget the war. The Gulf War, smart bomb falling down a chimney. 2,500 missions a day, 100 days. One video of one bomb. The American people bought that war. War is show business. That’s why we’re here.
A lot has been written about this film by people who know it a lot better than I do, so I’m gonna preface this by saying what I want to do with this piece is not a full analysis of the film, but rather snippets of thoughts and ideas that ran through my head when I watched it Thursday last at the Castro Theatre. I first saw Taxi Driver when I was about 15 (I rented it on VHS and I did not tell my parents) and I don’t think I really understood what I was watching. Really, going into the screening on Thursday, all I remembered from the film was the scene where Robert De Niro takes Cybill Shepherd to the porno theater. That was the first time I ever saw porn. Needless to say, it was shocking. Believe it or not, that was the only time I’d seen the film before this last time. So I have only seen it twice now. I’m guessing it’s a movie that gets richer each time you watch it, much like my favorite Scorsese film, 1985’s criminally under-seen After Hours. I would also like to mention that 1976 is a year where I can’t really say I wish one film beat another film. For me, it’s a year where all of the nominees are so important and so different, that choosing just one seems like a disservice. Well, four of them, anyway, as I have not yet seen Bound For Glory. Although Taxi Driver won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival, it received only four Academy Award nominations and failed to win in any of the categories: Best Picture, Best Actor Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actress Jodie Foster and Best Original Score. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Network and winner Rocky.
Jimmy: I know you from some place.
Jimmy: You don’t remember me?
Jimmy: You don’t remember we met a few years ago? It was at a party or a dance. We had a long conversation. You can’t remember that?
Jimmy: I just want to explain to you, first of all, my parents are over there, my mother and father, my brother and sister. So I got to see them because I just was two years in the service, you know, so they haven’t see me. Now, I want to get your phone number so I can tell you tomorrow about what I was thinking about. There’s something very, very important I’ve got to talk to you about.
Jimmy: No what? No what?
Jimmy: No, no, no. You don’t understand. Give me your number. You got a pencil or something?
Jimmy: All right. I have a photographic memory. Just give me your number, and I’ll remember it.
Jimmy: Can I meet you at Central Park? I’m serious.
Francine: I know. No.
Jimmy: I mean, come on. There’s no way…
Neil McCauley: I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. I know life is short, whatever time you get is luck. You want to walk? You walk right now. Or on your own. . .on your own you choose to come with me. And all I know is. . .all I know is there’s no point in me going anywhere anymore if it’s going to be alone. . .without you.
Captain Shakespeare: Yvaine. . .I know what you are. [beat] Have no fear, no-one on this vessel will harm you, but there are plenty who would. Your emotions give you away, Yvaine. You must learn to control them. You’ve been glowing more brightly every day and I think you know why.
Yvaine: Of course I know why I’m glowing. I’m a star! And what the stars do best?
Captain Shakespeare: Well, certainly not the waltz.
Johnny Boy: Hey Mikey, you’re really something, you know that? What’s the matter? You too good for this ten dollars? You too good for it? It’s a good ten dollars. You know something, Mikey, you make me laugh, you know that? You know, I borrow money all over this neighborhood, left and right from everybody, I never pay them back. So, I can’t borrow no money from nobody no more, right? So who does that leave me to borrow money from but you? I borrow money from you, because you’re the only jerk-off around here who I can borrow money from without payin’ back, right? Right? You know, ’cause that’s what you are, that’s what I think of you: a jerk-off. You’re smiling, right, because you’re a jerk-off! You’re a fucking jerk-off. I’ll tell ‘ya something else, Mikey, [lights ten-dollar bill on fire] I fuck you right where you breath, because I don’t give two shits about you or nobody else.
Rupert Pupkin: So I made a mistake!
Jerry Langford: So did Hitler!
Rupert Pupkin: All right. This is the way it is when you’re famous.
Jerry Langford: Do you understand now?
Rupert Pupkin: That’s how you guys are, huh?
Jerry Langford: No, not them. Me, yeah.
Rupert Pupkin: That’s how you are? When you reach the top?
Jerry Langford: No, I was that way before.
Jake La Motta: I remember those cheers / They still ring in my ears / After years, they remain in my thoughts. / Go to one night / I took off my robe, and what’d I do? I forgot to wear shorts. / I recall every fall / Every hook, every jab / The worst way a guy can get rid of his flab. / As you know, my life wasn’t drab. / Though I’d much… Though I’d rather hear you cheer / When you delve… Though I’d rather hear you cheer / When I delve into Shakespeare / “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, I haven’t had a winner in six months. / Though I’m no Olivier / I would much rather… And though I’m no Olivier / If he fought Sugar Ray / He would say / That the thing ain’t the ring, it’s the play. / So give me a… stage / Where this bull here can rage / And though I could fight / I’d much rather recite /… that’s entertainment!