4. Taxi Driver
As a burgeoning auteur, Martin Scorsese was so desperate to get Taxi Driver made that he thought about filming it in black and white. The rough-edged script made it a tough sell, but enough backing came through to make the cheaper approach unnecessary.
Screenwriter Paul Schrader and Scorsese were in the early stages of their careers when they tried to sell the film to Warner Brothers. Most major studios passed on the gritty material until Warner Brothers offered them a modest budget of more than half a million dollars. The deal was reportedly contingent on Jeff Bridges playing the troubled lead. Still, the two filmmakers insisted on following their vision with De Niro as the protagonist.
Scorsese strongly considered capturing the psychodrama in black and white if the funding didn't come through. Columbia gave them a slightly larger one million dollar budget but the production's content was constantly scrutinized. Scorsese even doctored the movie's crimson blood to a duller brown in the violent scenes just to avoid an X rating.
The actors weren't always tied to Schrader's original language. Scorsese filmed Cybil Shepherd and De Niro in black and white on his sixteen millimetre camera during their improvisation exercises. This led to De Niro's infamous line: "Are you talking to me?" The black and white sessions served as a revelation for Scorsese and he incorporated new lines into the final script.
Without the passion of its artists and the right amount of green, Taxi Driver would've been much paler.