Paul Schrader directs George C Scott, Peter Boyle and Season Hubley in this detective thriller where a straight-laced, religious father immerses himself into the world of sexual exploitation to find his missing teenage daughter.
As seedy walks on the wild side go, this nightmare trip into the porn industry often makes Taxi Driver feel like a parody. Travis Bickle is a cartoon character who fits right into his gutter of depravity, George C Scott is a nice, religious man revulsing, fighting to hide every danger sensor in his body, as he steps through the bead curtain doorway of a vicious, uncaring new reality. Watching a repressed and pent up father have to falteringly negotiate and eventually insinuate himself into the world of cock auditions, nudie booths and commercial degradation lends his descent and the subculture’s luridness an air of verisimilitude. I doubt someone who experienced this boom industry first hand would say it was wholly accurate. But it has the ring of truth, certainly the dark fantasy is never stretched past any viewer’s incredulity. Schrader plays with your emotions so that by the first hour you have all but given up on Scott’s quest for him to find his daughter. By that point you just hope he comes to his senses and finds an escape route for his own soul and sanity. Scott is one of cinema’s finest actors and this just might be his most convincing and affecting performance.