Among the backroom tales of Hollywood is a story about Taxi Driver, told a few years ago by Quentin Tarantino. A story featuring Martin Scorsese engaged in an arm wrestling match against Columbia…
As a good cinephile and cinephile, Quentin Tarantino likes nothing more than to dissect his favorite films. He had thus mentionedMartin Scorsese’s classic Taxi Driver, recounting one of those Hollywood legends he regales the audience.
Stating that he does not know if it is true or not, he recounts the standoff that had opposed Columbia, producer and distributor of the film, to Martin Scorsese. This one asked him to reassemble his film to ensure that it obtained an “R” classification instead of an infamous “X”, which would have certainly condemned the career of his Taxi Driver indoors.
“Legend has it that Scorsese stayed up all night, drinking, getting drunk with a loaded gun. Some filmmaker friends and colleagues came to talk to him, sympathetic, trying to talk him out of it.
He tried to find an alternative deep inside him so as not to commit murder. The idea that came to him was to desaturate the color of the blood in the scene of the final carnage by two degrees, transforming blood that had the color from a bright red to a burgundy red. This allowed him to obtain an “R” classification.
The story, fascinating as it is, is indeed partly legend. In his wonderful reference book Easy Riders, Raging Bullswhich looks back on these New Hollywood directors, journalist and critic Peter Biskind quotes Steven Spielberg.
The filmmaker remembers that Scorsese, after being notified of the obligation to re-edit his film, “pointed his index finger at Stanley Jaffe [NDR : à l’époque le vice-président de la Columbia], saying “He’s the head of the studio, I’m after him, so I’m going to take a gun and kill him. He wasn’t serious about it, but he let out all his anger and his rage, and he wanted to share it with us”.