Another blog post from February 2009.
“I hope this card finds you all well as if does me.I hope no one has died. Don’t worry about me….”
I love ‘Taxi Driver’. All of it. Martin Scorcese’s psychotic cuckolded husband. Peter Boyle (RIP) talking philosophical mumbo-jumbo. The kung-fu defensive stance at the campaign office. Cheese and apple pie. Kris Kristofferson LPs. The lurid greeting card.
But you already know all this back-to-front. More importantly, Travis is the most well-dressed madman in town at the exact point where, with the check shirt, Lees, white tee, cowboy boots and sunglasses, were he not flanked by two teen hookers prior to his conversation with an almost equally fly looking Harvey Keitel, you’d think he was player-status personified, rather than an obsessive loon.
Best of all, for a few years now, you’ve been able to buy a replica of the entire outfit in Japan courtesy of The Real McCoy to get your Travis on from the feet up. What always fired my imagination was the wilful anti-fashion efficiency of this get up at a time when polyester levels and unbreathable fabrics were the look. Hence Bickle’s outsider status. The trouble being, were I to attempt to ‘live the dream’ and sport this ensemble, I’d channel all the madman and none of the cool. Thus in its entirety, it remains something I’ll admire from afar. Plus it costs about a trillion yen. And as Marge remarked prior to Homer’s excitement on eyeballing ‘The World’s Best Jacket’, “Anyone who needs this kind of status symbol must have some terrible emotional problems.” Anyhow, one of these days I’m gonna get organizized and buy that coat.
But those Bickle Lee 101Zs, licensed by Universal are serious.
It doesn’t stop there. Maybe it’s his frequent themes of physical retribution, masculinity, the everyman and flawed protagonists, but. Schrader’s involvement in films once guaranteed an iconic look in one way or another – here’s 9 other Schrader flick looks I’d like to see get the full overpriced reproduction treatment –
John LeTour, played by Willem Dafoe in ‘Light Sleeper’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1991)
Underrated movie, and Willem is a gun-buying, low-level drug dealing lowlife doomed to go back to jail. He rocks an appropriately formal button down and slacks ensemble like a street level Seinfeld with oversized shades for extra attitude.
Yukio Mishima, played by Ken Ogata as in ‘Mishima’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1985)
Playing the brilliant writer whose brilliant ‘The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea’ was made into a slightly crappy movie starring the aforementioned Kris Kristofferson) and instigator of a failed coup d’état that resulted in his ritual suicide, Ogata (RIP) rocks the traditional headband and samurai sword combo to the death.
Salvy Betts, played by Frank Vincent in ‘Raging Bull’ (Screenplay co-written by Paul Schrader, 1980)
Too easy to pick a chunky Jake LaMotta when he’s practising monologues into mirrors – Frank introduces a certain suited mobster menace that he’d hone over the next few decades, most recently getting his head squashed as the fiery TV character Phil Leotardo.
Jake VanDorn, played by George C Scott in ‘Hardcore’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1979)
While the overlooked Hal Williams owns his scene as the confrontational Dick Blaque (based on ’70’s porn legend Johny Keyes) in Paul’s gritty reaction to his mormon upbringing, George C Scott (and on mentioning that name, there’s always time to show George getting mad about a file in ‘The Exorcist III’) surpasses his comedy audition outfit by rocking a fly shirt and suit to go view a snuff movie, before crying a lot in staircases and shaking people.
Zeke Brown, played by Richard Pryor in ‘Blue Collar’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1978)
Foul-mouthed, righteous and ruthless – check the clothes. Richard was a great, great presence onscreen.
Julian Kaye, played by Richard Gere in ‘American Gigolo’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1981)
‘Nuff said. It all goes wrong for him as the film progressed, but you’ll find no bullshit Exchange, jeans or other diffusion ranges in this player’s closet. Crank up the Giorgio Moroder.
The entire Symbionese Liberation Army in ‘Patty Hearst’ (Directed by Paul Schrader, 1988)
Hard to overlook the cyanide bullets and bank robberies, but these guys had a look going on. Check out the early Ving Rhames performance as Donald DeFreeze – an attitude he dumbed down as Nathan ‘Diamond Dog’ Jones in ‘Con Air’. Excellent poster too that betrays its late ’80s creation –
Tanaka Ken, played by Ken Takakura in ‘The Yakuza’ (Co-written by Paul Schrader, 1975)
The image speaks for itself. Ken was always cool. More swords too. This reluctant hero who never smiles outstyles Bob Mitchum with ease.
Major Charles Rayne, played by William Devane in ‘Rolling Thunder’ (Written by Paul Schrader, 1977)
“It’s your time boy.” Devane rocks the hookhand and shotgun on a revenge mission with an equally gnarled Tommy Lee Jones. Fresh to death.