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De Niro Drove a Cab? Learn All About It on 'Taxi Driver' DVD

July 01, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Despite the fact that there's no audio commentary from director Martin Scorsese, the Columbia TriStar collector's edition of his 1976 drama, "Taxi Driver" ($20), is a must-have for any fan of this classic starring Robert De Niro as the psychotic New York cabdriver, Travis Bickle.

Besides boasting a remastered wide-screen print, the disc features talent biographies and filmographies, a photo montage-portrait gallery and a storyboard section in which one can compare a scene's storyboard to a still of the sequence in the movie. The original screenplay allows viewers to read a scene in the text and then jump to the filmed version.

But the best reason to get the disc is for the exhaustive new 70-minute documentary, which includes clips from the film as well as interviews with Scorsese, De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, Albert Brooks, screenwriter Paul Schrader, cinematographer Michael Chapman and makeup artist Dick Smith.

Scorsese talks about how De Niro actually got his taxi driver's license before filming began and drove a cab throughout the streets of New York picking up passengers. To achieve those great atmospheric scenes in Bickle's cab, the sound men would get in the trunk and Scorsese and Chapman would squish themselves on the floor of the back seat and use available light to shoot.

Foster, who played the 12-year-old hooker Iris, chats about how her older sister doubled for the more suggestive scenes, how embarrassed she was to wear Iris' sexy, outlandish outfits and how De Niro taught her how to improvise and feel comfortable in her scenes with him.

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Columbia TriStar has also just released a collector's edition of Lawrence Kasdan's lengthy 1985 western, "Silverado" ($20), starring Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn and Brian Dennehy.

The disc not only features a beautiful remastered wide-screen print, but also talent biographies and filmographies, the trailer and an informative 37-minute documentary including new interviews with Kasdan; his brother, producer Mark Kasdan; and Kline. There are also deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage.

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Universal has done a nice job with its collector's edition of the 1984 sci-fi film "'The Last Starfighter" ($35). Lance Guest stars in this charming little movie about a teenager who is so good at video games that he's recruited to fight for a planet under attack. The wide-screen edition features two trailers, production photos and a well-crafted documentary, "Crossing the Frontier: The Making of the Last Starfighter." Hosted by Guest, the program features behind-the-scenes footage interspersed with new interviews with director Nick Castle, production designer Ron Cobb, art director James Bissell and producer Gary Adelson. The documentary chronicles how "Starfighter" was a trailblazer in computerized effects.

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