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Double Feature: "Taxi Driver" And "Uptight"

Double Feature: "Taxi Driver" And "Uptight"
Taxi Driver (1976)

Bing Theater
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

Motion picture costume design is often associated with elaborate historical costumes, although designers also create more modern garments. Using the groundbreaking urban American films of the late 1960s and 1970s, the Academy’s Friday series demonstrated how a designer’s work can be a key element in creating contemporary characters. The work of the featured designers enhanced some of the most memorable performances of the era and complemented the gritty, soul-baring aesthetic of New Hollywood, which found innovative, director-driven cinema briefly holding sway in the industry.

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Ruth Morley gave Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel indelible underclass looks in Taxi Driver. Theoni V. Aldredge provided the power suits of Network and the Black Power threads of  Uptight.

Taxi driver
FRIDAY, JANUARY 30 | 7:30 P.M.

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese teamed for the second time with this chilling look at alienation in ’70s New York. Travis Bickle, “God’s lonely man,” is a cab driver whose thwarted romance with campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd, a vision in white) leads to an obsession with saving a teenage prostitute (a stunning, Oscar-nominated Jodie Foster). De Niro, unforgettably costumed by Ruth Morley, sealed his reputation as one of the most remarkable actors of his generation with his unsettling performance, and the great Bernard Herrmann earned a posthumous Oscar nomination for his jazz-inflected score, completed mere hours before his too-soon passing.

1976, 112 minutes, color, DCP  | Directed by Martin Scorsese; written by Paul Schrader; with Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Harris, Peter Boyle, Cybill Shepherd, Diahnne Abbot.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30 | 9:40 P.M.

Blacklisted noir director Jules Dassin (The Naked City, Rififi) made a bold return to American filmmaking with this seldom-seen thriller that transposes John Ford’s classic film The Informer to Cleveland in the tense days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Julian Mayfield plays Tank, an unemployed steelworker-turned-revolutionary who starts to unravel after his confidante, Johnny (Max Julien, The Mack himself), goes into hiding after a weapons heist gone wrong. Mayfield co-wrote the script with Dassin and acting legend Ruby Dee, and veteran cinematographer Boris Kaufman (On the Waterfront) works in both expressive chiaroscuro and brightly lit realism. Other contributions include the only film score ever written by Memphis soul legends Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and Theoni V. Aldredge’s atmospheric costumes. The cast includes a wealth of African-American talent, many appearing early in their film careers, including Raymond St. Jacques, Roscoe Lee Browne and Janet MacLachlan.

1968, 104 minutes, color, 16mm | Directed by Jules Dassin; screenplay by Dassin, Ruby Dee, Julian Mayfield, suggested by the novel The Informer by Liam O’Flaherty; with Raymond St. Jacques, Ruby Dee, Frank Silvera, Roscoe Lee Browne, Julian Mayfield, Janet MacLachlan.