Hollywood Screenwriting Directory

Taxi Driver (1976)

Screenplay Genre: Drama / Thriller

Movie Time: 113 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

Meet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro)—lonely, can’t sleep, get’s headaches. He’s willing to live and let live, but he’s sick of all the scum in the city. One day a fellow New York cabbie offers to get him a gun for protection, but he refuses. (00:16:56)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

After Travis falls for a girl, Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), in a campaign office and begins supporting the candidate in order to get close to her, he recognizes Senator Palantine (Leonard Harris) in his cab and greets him with enthusiasm. The senator asks Travis what he thinks the biggest problem in the country is today. Travis responds that it is all the scum of the city, explaining that the world would be better off if all the low-lifes were flushed down the toilet. (00:29:17)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

After Travis experiences a series of lows—Betsy dumps him; a passenger (Martin Scorsese) in his cab explains how he’s going to shoot his cheating wife; and finally Travis goes to a friend for help, explaining that he doesn’t know what’s wrong; he just feels really off, but his friend can’t really offer any helpful advice—Travis buys several guns. (00:57:06)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

While planning to clean up the city in his own way (i.e., assassinate Senator Palantine), Travis meets the prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) and pays for her time, but he doesn’t want to sleep with her. He tries to convince her to leave with him so that he can help her get out of the mess he considers her to be in. He wants to save her. (01:20:30)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Travis, after having carefully planned his attack on the senator, is chased off by a secret serviceman. He goes back to Iris and kills everyone there but her. He tries to kill himself, but he’s out of ammo. (01:39:10)