The 8 Definitive Movies About New York

Thursday, September 27 by Jason Cuthbert

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Whether you know New York as "The City that Never Sleeps" or "The Big Apple," you can create your own title for the evolution of the Statue of Liberty's home through these eight definitive movies about New York City. The boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens (sorry Staten Island) are all showcased from a NYC street level in these particular films. The skylines of the 1950's, the fashion and slang of the 1970's, and the colorful neon of the 1980's are all documented in these historically relevant love letters to New York City.   

 

"Manhattan"

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From the moment George Gershwin's majestic music makes love to Gordon Willis' luscious black and white cinematography, you feel swept away into a taxicab tour of Woody Allen's world—the great metropolis of "Manhattan." Sure, there is a witty Woody screenplay, stellar performances from Mr. Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, and a young Meryl Streep (at the front end of her illustrious career). But "Manhattan" is a New York movie named after the true star of the show. 

 

"Taxi Driver"

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Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese reunite for their second New York movie, capturing the overwhelming loneliness of a disconnected outsider swallowed into   the concrete stomach of New York City. This honest depiction of the seedy porn theaters and prostitutes of Manhattan in the 1970's makes present day Times Square look like Disney Land. 

 

"Do the Right Thing"

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Welcome to Bed-Stuy "Do or Die" Brooklyn—a New York movie neighborhood populated by the likes of Danny Aiello, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, and real life Brooklynites John Turturro, Rosie Perez, and Spike Lee. Spike divided himself four ways: as the star, the screenwriter, the director, and the co-producer of this vibrant yet unapologetically bold look at diversity on fire. A battle between love and hate on the hottest day of the summer.   

 

"Shadows" 

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Imagine how different America was in 1959 when John Cassavetes released this improvisational movie about interracial relationships—when it was still illegal for African-Americans and Caucasians to get married. A trio of African-American siblings, two apparently of mixed parentage, try to protect each other from painful prejudice, fading dreams, and social disillusionment in this free-flowing jazzy Beatnik peek at New York City life.   

 

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Actors Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson are blasting ghosts back to the afterlife all over the New York city of Manhattan. Before strapping on those proton packs and rocking the red slash through the white apparition logo, they clock some experimental lab hours at Columbia University on Broadway and 116th Street. The exterior of the Ghostbusters headquarters was located on 14 North Moore Street and the spooky-splashing ghost-fest towards the end was on 55 Central Park West. 

 

"Coming to America"

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Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall's characters may be African royalty from the fictional country of Zamunda, but their journey to Queens New York City—to find a queenis 100% authentic. As the third highest grossing hit movie in 1988, John Landis made a hilarious New York movie that makes pit stops in NYC locales such as: Elmhurst Queens, the "DUMBO" section of Brooklyn, and Manhattan staples such as Madison Square Garden and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.  

 

"After Hours"

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It is no surprise that New York City-raised and internationally respected moviemaker Martin Scorsese has more than one definitive New York movie on his astonishing resume. When his main protagonist gets lost in the Soho (South of Houston) area of downtown Manhattan, he soon learns the importance of not losing his cab fare. Throughout his long night back home he comes across everything from artist's lofts to gay bars—places as diverse as New York City itself.   

 

 "The Warriors"

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This 1979 crime thriller poses the question:  What would happen if the New York City streets belonged to gangs and copsand one group of warriors was wanted dead by all the others? Director Walter Hill really takes these tough guys on location through Manhattan to Brooklyn by way of Central Park, subway stations, and Coney Island.