The Movies of Old, Violent New York
The media seems to be pining for the crime-fueled depravity of New York in the 1970's and 80's. It was so gritty and exciting. Wasn't it? Or have they just seen too many movies?
The New York Post is giddily heralding a return to the days of Bernie Goetz and an uncrossable Bowery. Out-of-towners are scared to visit again, they wring their hands about (a bit excitedly). Over at the New York Observer, they're getting nostalgic for the mustachioed noir rococo days of gay rent boy sex.
Given the near complete yuppification of Manhattan over the last decade, it's hard to imagine that the out of work architects and bankers are going to turn into junkies, toughs and prostitutes over night (gentrification pioneers in Bed-Stuy, on the other hand, are screwed). So, why not go back to the original sources for all this doomsday nostalagia of when New York was dangerous, scary and cool?
A principled cop who goes over the line sometimes. New York was a place that needed cleaning up—and Method acting!
Street toughs (white ones!) doing tough things on tough streets. Some are mean in a good way, others are mean in a bad way. Oh wasn't it fun?
The story of a wannabe gigolo who winds up trying to (unsuccessfully) turn a trick with a fella. It's grim, it's sad, Dustin Hoffman is walkin' here, and the whole thing is decidedly unglamorous. In, you know, a completely glamorous way.
A man looking for a little adventure spends a crazy night trapped in the lower depths of most dangerous and peculiar... Soho. Times have changed. Why this man doesn't just start walking home is beyond us every time we watch this whacked-out movie (Catherine O'Hara!), but it does, admittedly, make us wish for a time when big chunks of Manhattan still seemed as dark and mysterious as they once did.
Not this dark, though. Charles Bronson's wife is murdered, his daughter raped. So in "the most dangerous city in the world," he goes on a murderous vigilante rampage. In the end, he shoots Jodie Foster. (Not really)
Escape from New York
From 1981, this film may have represented where New Yorkers of the day thought they were headed. The year is 1997 and the island of Manhattan is a horrible, ruined prison colony. Full of Thunderdome-style fights and weird futuristic stuff, this looks more like a lame Friday night at the Royal Oak than a nightmarish dystopia.