[Martin] Scorsese was shaken. He went home, summoned his friends, [John] Milius, [Brian] DePalma, [Steven] Spielberg, to his house on Mulholland. “Can you come up here right away?”
“Why?” Spielberg asked.
“Well, it’s an emergency.” Spielberg jumped in his Mercedes and drove over from Laurel Canyon. “I had never seen Marty so upset,” he recalls. “Verging on tears, but leaning toward rage. He shattered a glass Sparkletts bottle all over the kitchen floor. We were holding his arms, trying to calm him down, find out why he was so upset. He finally came out with the fact that Columbia had seen his movie [Taxi Driver], had hated the ending, and wanted him to take out all the violence, the entire shoot-out, to cut away from the splintering fingers and the blood spouting and puddling. They felt the film was bound for an X rating, and he was being forced to Disney-ize it. Eventually he began to tell us the story of an actor, Timothy Carey, when he was auditioning for Harry Cohn in the early ’50s. In the middle of his audition, he broke down and said, ‘This is so humiliating standing up here and acting for you people who know nothing about actors, nothing about my art,’ and he pulled out a gun and fired at the executives, full-load blanks, and then had trouble getting a job for years after that. That was his [Scorsese’s] fantasy. He pointed a finger at Stanley Jaffe, and said, ‘He’s the head of the studio, he’s the guy I’m angry at, so I’m gonna get a gun and shoot him.’ He wasn’t serious about it, but he was relishing the rage, and he wanted us to share his anger.”
– Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (Simon and Schuster, 1998)
Scorsese directing Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver (1976)