Top 10 Films hails a cab to take a look at the best movies to feature taxi drivers. Among them I find a boy racer, superhero, conspiracy theorist, ghost and lonely revolutionary.
We’ve all been in one. Whether it is the iconic yellow taxis of New York City, the black cabs of London town, or the more inconspicuous cars of smaller firms, the public service these drivers perform is one we rely upon day after day. But how have they been depicted in cinema? Martin Scorsese found a lonely one (Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver), Luc Besson found a superhero (Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element), Gerard Pires found a boy-racer (Daniel in Taxi), and Richard Donner found a conspiracy theorist (Jerry Fletcher in Conspiracy Theory). If each character showed very different personal traits they still all have one thing in common: an ability to get you from A to B…some more safely than others…
10. Conspiracy Theory (Donner, USA, 1997)
Twists and turns are aplenty in Richard Donner’s film about taxi driver Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) who knows a few too many government secrets to be left telling the world his conspiracy theories on each and every taxi fare. Cat and mouse adventure ensues with concerned friend Julia Roberts along for the ride.
9. Scrooged (Donner, USA, 1988)
Bill Murray gets more than he bargained for when he catches a cab in New York City. The unscrupulous TV exec has made enough enemies during his selfish life that he has invited the wrath of Dickens’ ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. It is the Ghost of Christmas Past who whisks him away in a taxi to a simpler time.
8. Taxi! (Del Ruth, USA, 1932)
The oldest of our taxi driver films Taxi! sees a bunch of drivers forced to band together to battle a ruthless mob intent on dominating the industry. James Cagney stars as one of a group of cabbies who refuse to be bullied by the gang threatening their livelihood.
7. Carry On Cabby (Thomas, UK, 1963)
The Carry On team put their traditional comic spin on the world of being a “cabbie” and make one of the funniest taxi driver films. It is the tale of a competing husband and wife (Charlie Hawkins played Sid James and Peggy played by Hattie Jacques) who run Speedee Taxis and GlamCabs. When Peggy feels her husband is neglecting her she sets up GlamCabs to spite him only to find the company take off and threaten Charlie’s business. However, Charlie has no clue the taxi firm competing with him is his wife’s.
6. Taxi (Pires, France, 1998)
I feel the need…the need for speed! That’s what you get in Gerard Pires’ 1998 film Taxi. Daniel works as a taxi driver but really wants to be in a racing car. However, with a supercharged engine under the hood of his road car, he gets his passengers from “A” to “B” in super-quick time. Just remember to wear a seat belt, and for goodness sake, hold on!
5. My Son The Fanatic (Prasad, UK, 1997)
Om Puri is the taxi driver in Udayan Prasad’s film based on the short story of the same name by Hanif Kureishi. Puri is increasingly troubled by his son’s worrying behaviour after he converts to fundamentalist Islam. As he struggles to make an honest living, he finds solace and friendship in a local prostitute played by Rachel Griffiths. Prescient and honest, this British social drama is both hard-hitting and heart-warming.
4. Night on Earth (Jarmusch, USA, 1991)
Five taxi drivers and five taxi rides for the price of one. Jim Jarmusch’s film takes place in one night but five separate locations around the world. In Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome and Helsinki, five journeys take place as Jarmusch explores the short but somewhat intimate relationships formed between passenger and driver.
3. Collateral (Mann, USA, 2004)
Jamie Foxx finds himself driving the wrong shift when contract killer Vincent (played by Tom Cruise) enters his cab. It is a big payday for the taxi driver but at what cost. Luckily for Foxx, he equips himself well. So if you’re in need of this kind of chauffeur service (door-to-door transport for each assassination), head to Los Angeles and ask for Max Durocher.
2. The Fifth Element (Besson, France, 1997)
Scared of heights? Then stay away from Bruce Willis’ flying taxi in a 23rd century metropolis populated by such tall buildings you need airborne public transport to access them. This smart-talking taxi driver is a nice guy who is suddenly thrust into an adventure to save the world. Approach with care…and expect a hefty fare.
1. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, USA, 1976)
Robert De Niro is the taxi driver in Martin Scorsese’s classic film about a socially malfunctioning loner who turns anti-hero after befriending an underage prostitute. Although the taxi, driven by Travis Bickle, is not the one you really want to get into, there is every chance he’ll help you out of a tight fix if in doing so he can vent his rage onto some unassuming victim. A classic in all senses of the word, Taxi Driver is of course the quintessential movie about those men and women who help us get for “A” to “B”.
Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.
What are your favourite taxi driver films?
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