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Best Shot: "Taxi Driver" Visual Index

For this week's edition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" our series in which we invite everyone to watch the same movie and pick their best image -- "best" being in the eye of the beholder -- we flag down Martin Scorsese and he drives us right into the squalor of 70s era New York and further still into the head space of one Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). Though Scorsese had already broken through as an important auteur, this controversial classic was the first of his eventual eight "Best Picture" nominees. It was only the third Director of Photography job ever for Michael Chapman and though Chapman didn't become Scorsese regular cinematographer, he did reunite with the director for another classic (Raging Bull)

Best Shots from Taxi Driver (1976)
14 shots chosen by 15 participating blogs
Click on the image for the corresponding article 

New York as the very embodiment of hell on earth...
- The Spy in the Sandwich

The protagonist as silent predator...
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

The movie is basically made up of perfect frames, over 150,000 of them...
-Nebel Without a Cause 

It’s voyeurism, and he’s the audience...
-Coco Hits NY

Is Taxi Driver suggesting that evil is contagious... as it transfers it directly from the auteur to his muse?
- The Film Experience 

Simple gestures can function as shorthand for multiple meanings...
-Manuel Muñoz 

As if his fate is already predetermined...
-A Fistful of Films

One of the things that I've always admired about this film is the omnipresence of the political campaign in the background..."
-The Entertainment Junkie 

'You do a thing... that's who you are..."
-Sorta That Guy 

 I saw it within him because I recognized it within myself..."
-The Film's The Thing 

Never more unsettling than when he stands in a crowd clapping and smiling...

Robert De Niro, I will always love you."
-Paul Outlaw

Above all, it's a fascinating character study of its titular vigilante
-Film Actually 

 'like an angel' by Travis Bickle's own account."
-Queerer Things 


The looking and the longing..."
-Dusty Hixenbaugh 


THE END. And can we talk about the end? I have... feelings.

Next Week on Best Shot:
The classic comedy Nine to Five (1980). Have you ever considered how it looks? We're watching it because we're too excited for Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda's new series Grace & Frankie to hit Netflix next month.

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Reader Comments (11)

Excited to dig into all of these.

April 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Such a great batch of 'shots' and articles!

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

brianz & andrew -- the comments don't suggest that people read them BUT you never know and I thought this was a pretty interesting grouping of pieces. I was thrilled to hear from Muñoz who is one of my favorite writers of fiction :)

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The lack of participation about Taxi Driver is easy to figure out---it is an unpleasant viewing experience. For those who have seen it like myself vowed to never watch it again because certain sounds and images replay whenever thinking about it. However, for those who have never seen it they may have an aversion to 70's movies.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

/3rtful -- eh. don't buy your theory. it's one of the best loved films of the 70s. I only have ever met a couple of people who dislike it. and people with an aversion to 70s films be crazy. BEST so many fascinating movies crammed into that ten years

April 16, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Taxi Driver is an unpleasant movie. And I am sure you have several movies where once was all you needed to experience.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I can't believe I haven't seen this film. Well, actually I can - it always seemed too violent and disturbing for me when I was younger, and tbh still does now. But this batch of shots is inspiring me.

Also, until now I did not know how the film ended, and have to say I'm pretty astonished now that I do know. I always assumed it had a straight-up tragic ending.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterprincesskaraoke

There's a clip of a Siskel & Ebert review where Gene comes down on the film for its violence but I found it hard to agree with him, given how prevalent and cheap that violence was in so many other films before it. What makes the film unsettling and great for me is its connection of that violence to racism and misogyny, never more so than in the Scorsese/cab passenger scene you mentioned in your write-up, Nathaniel. We see nothing but an image in a window, but the narration alone is vivid enough to show us what might be possible visually. I think it's the most frightening scene in a film loaded with things to "read" and I love films like that.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Huh. Thinking about this before seeing these analyses, I'd have been inclined to go with something like the "hell on Earth" entry. But I love Nebel Without a Cause's post - both the shot and the argument for it.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Nathaniel, haven't read them yet, other than yours, but thats what Saturdays are for. Catching up.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

For the little it is worth, I would watch Taxi Driver another ten times before I volunteered again for The Quiet Man. Also, I would leave lots of comments on people's posts but so many of them require so many verification steps!

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDusty

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