Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made, but Scorsese still has a bone to pick with his masterpiece. During an interview with the Los Angeles Times (via NME), Fran Lebowitz revealed that Scorsese often griped about “Taxi Driver” during the making of their Netflix documentary series “Pretend It’s a City.” Why does “Taxi Driver” agitate Scorsese so much? The color red.
“What takes long with Marty is the editing, because Marty never feels finished,” Lebowitz said. “I guarantee you if they had not taken it away from him, he would still be editing ‘Taxi Driver.’ He’s still angry. He said to me numerous times: ‘You know what ruins “Taxi Driver”? The color red. The studio wouldn’t give me enough money to correct the color red, and that’s why it’s horrible.’ I say, ‘You know what’s wrong with “Taxi Driver,” Marty? Nothing.’”
Lebowitz and Scorsese are longtime friends whose “Pretend It’s a City” marked a documentary reunion 10 years after they collaborated on HBO’s “Public Speaking.” Lebowitz had this to say about her enduring friendship with the Oscar-winning filmmaker: “To me, great friendships are emotionally — I don’t mean this erotically — like love affairs. It’s some kind of chemical thing. Neither Marty nor I remember where we met. But I did notice over a period of time, whenever I saw Marty at a party, I’d always spend the whole night talking to him.”
“Taxi Driver” won the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival and followed Scorsese’s early critical favorites “Mean Streets” and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” Robert De Niro had long wanted to make a sequel to the movie because he found “Taxi Driver” character Travis Bickle so interesting, but Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader never found a way forward.
“For years I was thinking where Travis Bickle would be today and we spoke to Marty about it and [screenwriter] Paul Schrader came up with something,” De Niro said in 2018 at the Marrakech Film Festival. “But it never worked out. I think there may be something interesting in what happened to him, but we couldn’t find the right thing.”
“Pretend It’s a City” is now streaming on Netflix.