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New York Movies - (1970s - 1980s)

Updated on January 16, 2019
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Jennifer is an HGTV-featured Feng Shui Master, Interior Designer, and Color Consultant with 25 years of experience, and hundreds of clients.

Saturday Night Fever

Longing for Gotham City? Love going to the Movies?

#2 Lens in Our Series on New York

There are probably a few people like me out there, who get homesick, and need to see a great movie set in New York City. There's some kind of magic about New York, and it even transpires onto film. If you need to get lost in "the City", here you go.

Enjoy! Please email me if you have other titles to add!

Saturday Night Fever - The Legend

Saturday Night Fever - The Legend
Saturday Night Fever - The Legend

Godspell

Godspell
Godspell

Must See Movies from the 1970s

The Godfather Collection (The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II / The Godfather: Part III)
The Godfather Collection (The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II / The Godfather: Part III)

(1972) Francis Ford Coppola took some of the deep background from the life of Mafia chief Vito Corleone--the patriarch of Mario Puzo's bestselling novel The Godfather--and built around it a stunning sequel to his Oscar-winning, 1972 hit film. Robert De Niro plays Vito as a young Sicilian immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City's Little Italy.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama, based on Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). When the don's youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes involved in the inevitable cycle of violence and betrayal. Although Michael tries to maintain a normal relationship with his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), he is drawn deeper into the family business.

 

Saturday Night Fever (30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition)

Saturday Night Fever (30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition)
Saturday Night Fever (30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition)

(1977) Tony Manero (John Travolta) doesn't have much going for him during the weekdays. He still lives at home and works as a paint store clerk in his Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood. But he lives for the weekends, when he and his friends go to the local disco and dance the night away. When a big dance competition is announced, he wrangles the beautiful and talented Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) to be his partner. As the two train for the big night, they start to fall for each other as well.

My two cents: I think it goes without saying that you MUST see this film. It not only defined a generation, it defined a phenomenom (disco), and the irony is that it was all based on a farcical, supposedly "non-fiction" article about teens in Brooklyn and disco music. Trivia: John Travolta originally wanted his disco suit to be black until it was pointed out that in the darkened disco, his co-star's red dress would make her easier to see than him.

 

Godspell

Godspell
Godspell

(1973) Teaser: Godspell isn't really about the "Age of Aquarius," nor does it adopt a dark or operatic tone towards its subject matter, the Gospel according to Matthew. The mood is, instead, upbeat and uplifting.

Godspell is a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz with the book by John-Michael Tebelak. The show opened off-Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The 2011 revival played on Broadway from October 13, 2011 through June 24, 2012.

 

Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Taxi Driver (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

(1976) Trivia: De Niro's famous "You talkin' to me?" lines were entirely improvised. The screenplay details for that scene consisted only of "Travis looks in the mirror".

Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting the streets nightly, growing increasingly detached from reality as he dreams of cleaning up the filthy city. When Travis meets pretty campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he becomes obsessed with the idea of saving the world, first plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate, then directing his attentions toward rescuing 12-year-old prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster).

 

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever

The Lords of Flatbush

The Lords of Flatbush
The Lords of Flatbush

(1974) Trivia: Sylvester Stallone stated that his payment for his role was 25 free t-shirts. Teaser: The movie itself is noteworthy mostly for the pre-stardom appearances of Stallone and Winkler, and a strong costarring role for that most ubiquitous of '70s actresses, Susan Blakely. Despite its amateurish style, muddy sound quality, and rambling scenes that have casual appeal but minimal narrative momentum, the movie is blessed with laid-back authenticity, recognizing the value of awkward pauses and jumpy rhythms of conversation.

 

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Dog Day Afternoon (Two-Disc Special Edition)

(1975) Tag line: "Oh my God; Pacino at his absolute best."

When inexperienced criminal Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) leads a bank robbery in Brooklyn, things quickly go wrong, and a hostage situation develops. As Sonny and his accomplice, Sal Naturile (John Cazale), try desperately to remain in control, a media circus develops and the FBI arrives, creating even more tension. Gradually, Sonny's surprising motivations behind the robbery are revealed, and his standoff with law enforcement moves toward its inevitable end.

 

Annie Hall

Annie Hall
Annie Hall

(1977) Quote:

Alvy Singer: A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

Comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) examines the rise and fall of his relationship with struggling nightclub singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Speaking directly to the audience in front of a bare background, Singer reflects briefly on his childhood and his early adult years before settling in to tell the story of how he and Annie met, fell in love, and struggled with the obstacles of modern romance, mixing surreal fantasy sequences with small moments of emotional drama.

 

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The Lords of Flatbush

The Lords of Flatbush
The Lords of Flatbush

Still more 1970s gems

The Stepford Wives (1975)
The Stepford Wives (1975)

(1975) Quote:

Dale Coba: I like to see women doing small domestic chores.

Joanna Eberhart: You came to the right town.

Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) moves to the quiet town of Stepford with her husband (Peter Masterson) and children. The town seems perfect -- maybe a little too perfect. There's something not quite right with the suburb's women: they're vapid, unfathomably devoted to housework and completely subservient to their husbands. Joanna teams up with another recent transplant, Bobby (Paula Prentiss), to investigate the mystery of Stepford's wives and makes a horrific discovery.

 

The Goodbye Girl

The Goodbye Girl
The Goodbye Girl

The Goodbye Girl is a bittersweet comedy about relationships and taking chances. Though it deals with the human condition, what most quickly comes to mind are those wickedly comedic scenes featuring Richard Dreyfuss in an Oscar-winning role. He plays a struggling actor with a sharp tongue who has sublet an apartment from single mom Marcia Mason, a divorce with horrific taste in men, who are always running out on her. She is left high and dry once more, stuck sharing her apartment with Dreyfuss when he hasn't the heart to enforce his lease and toss out mother and daughter.

 

Manhattan

Manhattan
Manhattan

(1979) Teaser: Manhattan, Woody Allen's follow-up to Oscar-winning Annie Hall, is a film of many distinctions: its glorious all-Gershwin score, its breathtakingly elegant black-and-white, widescreen cinematography by Gordon Willis (best-known for shooting the Godfather movies); its deeply shaded performances; and its witty screenplay.

 

Serpico

Serpico (1973)
Serpico (1973)

Al Pacino became one of the icons of gritty, realistic 1970s filmmaking. Released in 1973, between the first two Godfather movies, this is the true story of Frank Serpico, a long-haired, idealistic, iconoclastic cop who reluctantly goes undercover to investigate dirty colleagues who are on the take. This is one of the definitive Pacino performances, along with his role as Michael Corleone in the Godfather saga, and Sonny the bungling bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon (which reunited him with his Serpico director, Sidney Lumet)--and Pacino was nominated for a best actor Oscar for all of them (although he wouldn't actually win until 1992's Scent of a Woman).

 

Must-see's from the Early 1980's

Escape from New York (Special Edition)
Escape from New York (Special Edition)

(1981) (From Editorial Review): In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. All comic-book sensibilities and macho posturing, this is one of writer-director John Carpenter's better brainless escapes.

 

Nighthawks

Nighthawks
Nighthawks

(1981) (Borrowed from B.C. Scribe "trekviewer" (Brooklyn Center, MN USA)): A first-rate thriller 'Nighthawks' begins with a bang (literally!) and never lets ups. A top-notch cast, great use of New York City locations and a story that becomes more riveting as it develops further distinguish it.

Fresh from mounting a devastating bomb attack in London, an international terrorist arrives in New York and remains intent upon wreaking further bloody havoc. His preparation is clinical and thorough but he overlooks one thing - the grit and steely determination of one New York cop.

 

Tootsie

Tootsie - 25th Anniversary Edition
Tootsie - 25th Anniversary Edition

(1982) One of the touchstone movies of the 1980s, Tootsie stars Dustin Hoffman as an out-of-work actor who disguises himself as a dowdy, middle-aged woman to get a part on a hit soap opera.

New York actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is a talented perfectionist who is so hard on himself and others that his agent (Sydney Pollack) can no longer find work for him. After a soap opera audition goes poorly, Michael reinvents himself as actress Dorothy Michaels and wins the part. What was supposed to be a short-lived role turns into a long-term contract, but when Michael falls for his castmate Julie (Jessica Lange), complications develop that could wreck everything.

 

Moscow on the Hudson

Moscow on the Hudson
Moscow on the Hudson

(1984) On of my favorite movies, ever! Robin Williams in his fuzzy, sensitive mode with bittersweet touches plays a musician in a Russian circus who gets talked into defecting by a pal and does so (though the pal bails on him at the last minute)--in the middle of Bloomingdale's.

 

The Pope of Greenwich Village

The Pope of Greenwich Village
The Pope of Greenwich Village

(1984) Picture if you will two cousins, Charlie (Mickey Rourke) and Paulie (Eric Roberts), prowling the mean streets of New York's Little Italy. Charlie is reasonably put-together, a maitre d' at a chic cafe who aspires to running his own restaurant someday.

Cousins Paulie (Eric Roberts) and Charlie (Mickey Rourke) plan to rob a merchant in the New York City neighborhood that's home to the restaurant where they work. When their scheme results in the death of a police officer and draws the ire of the Mafia-linked businessman who was ripped off, Charlie's girlfriend (Daryl Hannah) bolts, and mob henchmen exact a brutal price from Paulie. With the mob threatening to kill them, the thieves must think fast if they intend to survive.

 

The Pope of Greenwich Village

The Pope of Greenwich Village
The Pope of Greenwich Village

Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver

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Reader Feedback

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    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 

      7 years ago

      Taxi driver is my favorite from this era...:)RWJR GREAT LENS

    • profile image

      squidboo 

      10 years ago

      Just swinging by on this sad anniversary (9/11) to give some love to the Big Apple.

    • profile image

      Motocross_Life 

      10 years ago

      Wow. This lens is making want to dust off my Al Pacino movies....

    • profile image

      Ali_Baba 

      10 years ago

      Wow. This was a trip down memory lane! I LOVE the photographs especially. You moved me to watch Saturday Night Fever. Dang! What a great movie!!!!!

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 

      10 years ago from Vancouver

      Thank you for adding my 1959 lens to "What are YOUR favorite movie lenses on Squidoo?" Very nice lens! I have been to NY too - so much to see and do there!!

    • profile image

      squidboo 

      10 years ago

      How totally cool is this? I've only been to New York ONCE, so now I can go there anytime I want. Thanks for putting this together. Peace, Damian.

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