Great New York City Movies
By Scott Harris Posted Oct 15th 2009 02:00PM
New York City. When you read those words, a dozen images spring instantly to mind, thanks to the movies that for the past century have been singing the praises -- and exploring the dark side -- of the Big Apple in theaters all around the world. And as the new anthology 'New York, I Love You' shows, the city itself is often the most important character in these films.
But which of the hundreds of movies set in the New York have done the best job of capturing the city's unique spirit? On the eve of the 'New York, I Love You' release, we've sorted through dozens of classic movies from 'King Kong' and 'West Side Story' to 'Gangs of New York' and 'American Psycho' in order to determine which films represent the city best. So without further ado, here it is: our list of the top New York City movies ever made.
'The Godfather' -- Widely considered one of the greatest films ever made, 'The Godfather' introduced the world to the criminal underbelly of the city while at the same time shedding light on the unique experience of the New York immigrant family.
'Sex and the City' -- In many ways, New York is like a dozen different cities occupying the same space. While 'Sex and the City' shows a New York as far removed form the gritty streets of 'The Godfather' as you could get, it still represents a true -- and fun -- look at the lives of modern Manhattan socialites.
'Annie Hall' -- In filmmaking circles, one name has become synonymous with New York City: Woody Allen. While his odes to the city are too numerous to include them all, for our money 'Annie Hall' best captures the intellectual and cultural lifestyle that makes New York so artistically vibrant.
'The Muppets Take Manhattan' -- Not only does this movie give us looks at such revered New York institutes as Madison Avenue, Broadway and giant talking rats, it also provides something no other film on the list can: muppets. How can you beat that?
'Do the Right Thing' -- Arguably the greatest film yet from acclaimed director Spike Lee, 'Do the Right Thing' provides a complex and compelling look at the racial tensions that frequently seethe beneath the surface in many of New York's culturally diverse neighborhoods.
'Escape From New York' -- While the city has certainly cleaned up its image in recent years, once upon a time New York was considered the most violent and dangerous place in America. 'Escape From New York' not only gives sharp social commentary on this era, is also gives us one-eyed apocalyptic warrior Snake Plissken. Now that's a serious way to take a bite out of crime.
'Taxi Driver' -- Just as Woody Allen is the director most closely associated with New York, Robert DeNiro is the actor that comes to mind when people think of the Big Apple. He followed up his quintessential New York roles in 'The Godfather: Part II' and 'Mean Streets' with the instant classic 'Taxi Driver' and its famous lead character, Travis Bickle.
'Saturday Night Fever' -- Propelled to fame thanks to his role as wisecracking Brooklynite Vinne Barbarino, John Travolta became a pop sensation and international sex symbol when he took on another iconic role: Brooklyn dance legend Tony Manero.
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' -- Starring the unparalleled Audrey Hepburn as waifish ingenue Holly Golightly, 'Breakfast at Tiffnany's' also provided a career highlight for a pre-'A-Team' George Peppard and, as the trailer says, showed "the glitter and shimmer of New York as it has never been captured before".
'I Am Legend' -- Will Smith has turned in a number of memorable roles in his record breaking career, but in 'I Am Legend' he takes a backseat to the environment. The eerie, empty and wild streets of a deserted New York play perfectly against the audience's preconceptions of what a New York movie should be. The result is a film that is as scary for what it isn't as for what it is.
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