5 Ways 'Taxi Driver' Changed Movies, Made History

The Martin Scorsese film, which stars Robert De Niro, premiered 40 years ago.

— -- It's been 40 years since "Taxi Driver" first hit theaters, grabbing us by the throat and dragging us into Travis Bickle's dark, twisted world.

"Taxi Driver" not only changed the movies, it changed history. Here are five ways:

2. Coming off his Oscar win for "The Godfather: Part II," De Niro turned down half-million dollar offers to star in "Taxi Driver," his second collaboration with Scorsese. It sealed his reputation as one of Hollywood's greatest actors, while the character he embodied, Travis Bickle, became a classic, alongside other iconic characters such as Dirty Harry and Norman Bates.

3. Bickle's iconic line, "You talkin’ to me?" became one of film's most recognized and is included in the top 10 most famous movie lines by the American Film Institute. Screenwriter, Paul Schrader later said, "It’s the best thing in the movie, and I didn’t write it." De Niro, who improvised the entire monologue which included that famous line, borrowed it from Bruce Springsteen, whom he’d seen perform in Greenwich Village just days earlier.

4. Scorsese’s portrait of New York City in 1976 was dark, cramped and filled with garbage -- the latter of which, it turns out, was real. In the summer of 1975, when he shot the film, a sanitation workers’ strike left garbage piled on the streets and sidewalks. The film, Scorsese’s farewell to his hometown, also signaled the end of an era in New York. The Checker cabs, grimy neighborhoods and Times Square of the movie no longer exist.