‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ is part of a long-running series created by Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience. It asks writers to pick their favorite frame of a movie and expand on how it represents the movie as a whole to him or her.’
Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle doesn’t smile much in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. He rants, struggles to find the right words and practices his scariest demeanor. The man is never more unsettling than when he stands in a crowd clapping and smiling. At the campaign rally for a Senator he’s planning on assassinating, De Niro stands in his military jacket, complete with “We Are the People” button; an image of contented terror.
In a manner it’s a turning point for Travis. The character has spiraled with bitterness towards the streets he heads down every night, carrying the scum of New York City and those that he grows to see as such. His decision to become a vigilante up to this scene is steeped in acting, with the highlight of course being the famous mirror scene. Here though, Travis Bickle has become his final form. He is a dangerous figure, delighted to stand out in a crowd and be seen as the threat he has become. There are countless amazing shots to pick from this masterpiece. This one of De Niro grinning, sporting shades and a Mohawk to boot, with a sign displaying the word “Prohibited” next to him, always stands out. It’s the last quiet before the bloody storm.