“It haunted me”: Martin Scorsese Felt Disturbed by 1958 Film That Directly Inspired Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver

Scorsese also praised the director of Murder by Contract, Irving Lerner, for his spare style

martin scorsese felt disturbed by 1958 film that directly inspired robert de niro’s taxi driver


  • Legendary director Martin Scorsese has joined the film-focused social media platform, Letterboxd, and curated a list of 69 timeless classics that he calls the companion list.
  • Among these films, the 1958 movie Murder by Contract stands out as the one that haunted Scorsese's creative mind and inspired his acclaimed film Taxi Driver.
  • Scorsese noted that the spareness and single-mindedness of the killer in Murder by Contract, played by Vince Edwards, directly influenced his creation of the character Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.
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Martin Scorsese is not thinking about retirement any time soon, as the Killers of the Flower Moon director has recently joined the film-focused social media platform, Letterboxd. In his first action on the platform, the director curated a list of 69 timeless classics, which he calls the companion list. Among these films, the 1958 film, Murder by Contract, stands out as the one that haunted Scorsese’s creative mind and inspired one of his best films, Taxi Driver.

Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver
Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

According to Scorsese, this indie picture, centered around a hired killer, haunted him for a long time with its explored themes. When The Aviator director decided to make the Robert De Niro starrer, his mind first went back to these haunting themes.

Also Read: “This is the weirdest collab I’ve ever witnessed”: Martin Scorsese’s Viral TikTok With Kylie Jenner Leaves Fans Speechless


Martin Scorsese Was Haunted By This Film That Influenced Taxi Driver

A still from Murder by Contract
A still from Murder by Contract

Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver explores a vigilante justice story born out of the alienation and existential crisis of a Vietnam war veteran turned taxi driver. Robert De Niro’s exceptional acting performance and Scorsese’s flawless direction make for a must-watch classic. Interestingly, this cinematic masterpiece draws its inspiration from another classic, the 1958 film Murder by Contract.

Directed by Irving Lerner, this crime film explores the story of another existentialist, a hitman contracted with killing a woman. Scorsese once noted that this film was the one that influenced him the most. Interestingly, The Departed director even tried to include a clip from the film in his movie Mean Streets but was forced to remove it due to its length.

The film also earned a spot in the list of 69 films created by the Goodfellas director for his Letterboxd audience. Placing it as a ‘companion’ to Taxi Driver, Scorsese explained that the killer in the film, portrayed by Vince Edwards, haunted him with his spareness, single-mindedness, rituals, and actions. It was one of the first characters that came to his mind while writing Travis Bickle for Taxi Driver. Scorsese noted on Letterboxd:


“The spareness, the single-mindedness of the killer (played by Vince Edwards), the ritualized quality of his preparation and his actions… it haunted me and came directly to mind when I made Taxi Driver.”

The Gangs of New York director also revealed that Perry Botkin’s score for Murder by Contract inspired Howard Shore’s score for his film, The Departed. Scorsese praised director Lerner, calling him an artist who brought a spare style to the movie, evident in every frame.

Also Read: “He’s a wonderful actor”: Martin Scorsese Defends Brendan Fraser’s Acting Against Rabid Trolls Attacking Oscar Winner for His ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Performance

Martin Scorsese Now Has Largest Number Of Followers On Letterboxd

Martin Scorsese in Taxi Driver
Martin Scorsese in Taxi Driver

The social media platform, founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow for movie lovers, has recently witnessed some record-shattering moments. Martin Scorsese joined Letterboxd as part of the promotional campaign for his latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon. He became the user with the largest number of followers on the platform, that too within record time.


The Letterboxd community boasts several celebrity filmmakers as its members, including Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One director, Christopher McQuarrie, and Run director, Aneesh Chaganty. The list of 69 films was one of Scorsese’s first contributions to the platform, where he intends to share more such lists and film reviews. The Wolf of Wall Street director also became active on TikTok recently.

Also Read: Despite Being Considered For Lead Role in The Sopranos, Robert De Niro Never Watched the HBO Show That Even Martin Scorsese Found Unrelatable

Taxi Driver is now available for rent on AppleTV+, while the film that inspired Scorsese, Murder by Contract, is now available for streaming on Tubi.


Written by Hashim Asraff

Articles Published: 1352

Hashim, Entertainment Writer. With over 1000 published articles on FandomWire, he covers a wide range of topics from celebrity life to comic book movies. He holds a Masters degree in Sociology and his expertise proves invaluable in handling sensitive news. His passion for crime investigation thrillers has turned him into a detective, exploring the darkest corners of the internet during his research.