Two for the Price of One

By Todd Ford

Sandy and Todd are hanging out around the office coffee pot.

Sandy: “I finally got around to Taxi Driver last night and I don’t know what I thought. When Betsy follows Travis into that porno theater, the movie lost me.”

Todd (nodding his head): “Yes. That scene always gets to me too. Why didn’t she just dump him at the ticket window? I love the dirt and grime in that movie though and it has two of my favorite scenes.”

Sandy: “Ooh, I bet you’re gonna say, ‘You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?’”

Todd: “Yep. And the other is when Travis says ‘All the animals come out at night – whores, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, I take’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.”

Sandy (eyes popping): “You’re weird. You actually memorized that?”

Todd: “Sure. It’s one of the most quotable movies ever. I slip bits into conversation every day. I don’t recommend telling the boss he needs to get organ-a-zized though.”

Sandy: “Not pretty?”

Todd (staring at his shoes): “No.”

Todd (after a long pause): “I don’t think it’s Scorsese’s best movie of the ‘70s though. I’m like a total fanboy of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”

Sandy: “I’ve never seen it. Is it really that good? Nobody ever talks about it.”

Todd: “Good? It’s just about perfect. And it has so many things in common with Taxi Driver. Harvey Keitel plays a great psycho, Jodie Foster plays a streetwise kid, Kris Kristofferson is the love interest, and the taxi station guy has a funny bit as a bar owner. He keeps saying to Alice, ‘I don’t even have a piano in here’ and it’s hilarious.”

Sandy: “Why is that funny?”

Todd: “You gotta see it I guess. But, trust me. It’s hysterical.”

Sandy rolls her eyes.

Todd: “Critic Robin Wood was too hard on the movie. He paired it with An Unmarried Woman – which is pretty crappy – as an example of how women’s liberation doesn’t really happen in Hollywood movies because both women end up shacked up with burly, bearded men who take care of them.

What he doesn’t mention is that Alice was far more torn apart over leaving her best friend – a woman – than leaving her husband. The classic romantic challenge of the story isn’t between Alice and David, but between Alice and Flo. David is just as potentially violent as all the other men in Alice’s life and she doesn’t make up with him until he promises things will be different. She decides not to go to Monterey which symbolizes marriage as she’s always known it (the movie opens with a scene in Monterey that evokes The Wizard of Oz) and we never get a neat, final image of Alice and David in each other’s arms or some such crap.

No, Alice doesn’t live here – with ‘here’ meaning traditional marriage – anymore. I see her in some sort of mutually supportive relationship with both David and Flo after the movie ends.”

Sandy (lost in thought): “I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind shacking up with a burly, bearded Kris Kristofferson.”

The boss pokes his head into the break room and drums his fingers against the side of the fridge.

They fill their coffee mugs and head back to their desks, until their next break.

(Todd Ford has been a film nut since 1981. He watches far too many movies through Netflix and enjoys a home life with his wife, two daughters, two dogs and five cats.)

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