Best Shot: Taxi Driver

Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Finding the “best” shot from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is downright impossible. Filmed by Michael Chapman, the movie is basically made up of perfect frames, over 150,000 of them. You can just scroll to any random scene and get something like the shot above, one of the many great night shots with DeNiro driving through New York City. Or you might land on something as simple as an insert shot, but of course one that’s just as carefully framed, like the assorted snacks Travis buys in the adult movie theater. Popcorn and snacks in Taxi Driver For my best shot, I went with a scene that perhaps isn’t the first that comes to mind when you think about Taxi Driver: the one where Travis first asks Betsy out on a date. TaxiDriver_best-shot_1 TaxiDriver_best-shot_2 On its surface the scene’s setup is pretty conventional – back and forth, over the shoulder, well-light, bright colors. It’s exceptional only by its presence in this movie, which is why I love it so much. (Well, that and my absolute, total crush on Cybill Shepherd.) TaxiDriver_best-shot_3 TaxiDriver_best-shot_4 The scenes in the Palantine campaign offices offer such a stark contrast in tone to most of the rest of the film. It’s almost like they’re cut out of some workplace sitcom. (One I’d definitely watch, too, if it meant I’d get to spend more time with Shepherd and Albert Brooks, the latter hilariously poking out his head behind the pillar here.) TaxiDriver_best-shot_6TaxiDriver_best-shot_7 The power dynamics in this scene are just fascinating. Travis is basically in disguise, he’s dressed up pretending to be “normal” for her. We know this, but Betsy has yet to figure it out, of course. The way it’s presented here, she is clearly the one calling the shots. Which is why I love the scene’s final shot, and indeed my pick for best shot, which shows us (but not Travis) her confidant, triumphant smile: TaxiDriver_best-shot_8

4 thoughts on “Best Shot: Taxi Driver

  1. I agree with you that the movie is a wealth of great shots. I also loved the way you walked us through this particular scene, which tells us so much about the three characters and which of them has been vested with the most power. Strangely, I found the female characters all way more interesting than I remembered — and all way more interesting than DeNiro.

  2. Good post. I’ll always remember the jump cut close to the end when he looks at himself as he adjusts his rear view mirror and the screen flickers.

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