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#056. Danger Drivers!

Question: what is the most dangerous part of your job? For most of us, it’s not the ergonomic stress on our bodies or even the slipping hazard from that coffee spill in the break room, but instead the drive to and from work each day. After all, let’s face it, EVERYONE’S town has the worst drivers. Just getting on the road with people who will text, make phone calls, eat, or do any number of distracting activities while driving terrifies me, that’s for sure. Each day as I get to my cubicle or walk in my front door, I’ll mutter to myself, “Well boys, we cheated death again.” And yet, how much more dangerous would your job be if your job was entirely composed of driving? Sometimes the people on the road aren’t the only hazards one has to deal with when getting behind the wheel for the daily grind. This week’s two films focus on feats of endurance and skill needed to perform these driving duties.

Taxi DriverTaxi Driver
Year: 1976
Rating: R
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

Having never actually ridden in a taxi, I can only speculate, but I for one would rather walk to my destination than take a cab. There seem to be too many risks for the convenience of getting where I need to go in an expedient manner (even with the minimal chance of getting in the Cash Cab). Let’s just say that many stereotypes surround taxis, not only for their drivers, but for their fares as well. While the fares are usually drunk, in a hurry, or both, the taxi drivers are uncouth, foreign, and the worst/fastest drivers imaginable. Of course, these are merely stereotypes perpetuated over the years. Nonetheless, most taxis rarely visit the nice parts of town, which just adds another layer of danger upon the already dangerous job of taxi driver.

Only one type of person would willingly take the night shift as a taxi driver. There’s a certain unwholesomeness to those who need cab service in the bad part of New York in the wee hours of the morning. And yet, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) suffers from insomnia due to his involvement in the Vietnam War. As such, he has decided that the best way to use his insomnia is to work during the times he cannot sleep. Unfortunately for those who make up the bad part of New York, Travis has a lot of pent up aggression just waiting to get out. After seeing so much injustice, he takes it upon himself to dole out some vigilante justice on the early morning streets. After all, he just wants to know, “You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to?”

The Wages of FearThe Wages of Fear
Year: 1953
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours

If you think about it, being an astronaut is perhaps the most dangerous profession imaginable. In order to get to outer space, one essentially has to strap themselves to a pile of explosives nearly forty stories high and light the fuse. Seriously. However, that’s a more controlled explosion than if you were taking two one-ton truckloads of  nitroglycerin through the mountains in order to blow out an oil rig fire. At least when you’re going to space you can let the explosives explode. The Wages of Fear is perhaps the most intense and nerve racking film about driving ever created. I, for one, no longer complain about potholes like I used to after watching this movie. In fact, I feel we are very blessed for the paved bliss we get to drive on every day.

Imagine the scene: you’re hanging out in some South American town, just waiting for a job that will get you enough money for your next drink while you wait for the job that would get you out of the poverty you’re living in. Then a few oil men come with a proposition. They need four drivers to take two trucks into the mountains to blow out an oil rig fire. Each day that the fire rages, they loose a lot of money, so they are willing to pay very graciously for the service of these drivers. However, to get to the fire quickly would require the right equipment. In this case, we have two old, beat up trucks with no shocks that are now carrying enough nitroglycerin to demolish a small village. With the mountainous roads being less than ideal, one small jolt could make the difference between a huge payout or death itself.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 fatal fields of employment  

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4 responses to “#056. Danger Drivers!

  1. Pingback: End of Act Two | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #141. Chauffeurs | Cinema Connections

  3. Pingback: #022. Martin Scorsese | Cinema Connections

  4. Pingback: #228. Robert DeNiro | Cinema Connections

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