In his film masterpiece, "Taxi Driver," (1976) Martin Scorsese combined realistic settings with noir and avant-garde cinematography; constructing a stylized vision of darkness and disillusionment. His psychopathic protagonist moves from street to street without direction. By utilizing and expanding upon the thematic characteristics, character types, and the cinematography of other classic film noir movies, Martin Scorsese was able to create a neo noir master work that embodies the disillusionment of the 1970's. .
Many of the thematic elements in "Taxi Driver" are borrowed from other movies which exhibit distinct film noir qualities. In his essay, "Notes on Film Noir," Paul Schrader, who wrote the "Taxi Driver" screenplay, outlines his view of film noir as a genre. Schrader points out the major influences that noir has had on cinema, as well as on his own work (Schrader, 36). .
Schrader discusses the effects of war and postwar disillusionment as it pertains to film noir. The notion of disillusionment connotes the growing lack of faith in conventional images of American society. A type of moral ambiguity emerges in a way never seen before in cinema. In film noir, the heroes begin to skirt along the edge of corruption, eventually rooting out the villains, but typically using questionable methods to do so. "Audiences and artists were now eager to take a less optimistic view of things"," Schrader suggests (Schrader, 55), a view that reflects the public's reaction and emotional frame of mind during World War II. .
Recognizing that capacity for immorality in themselves, and seeing themselves a component part of society at large, artists and audiences turned a cynical eye toward their own values (Schrader, 56). This disillusionment developed stylistically after American audiences sought a grittier, grimier reality than that featured in the studio-based productions of the thirties. Filmmakers understood that "the public's desire for a more honest and harsh view of America would not be satisfied by the same studio sets they had been watching for a dozen years.