Aside from being the largest city in the United States, New York is among the world’s major financial, commercial, and cultural centers. Its iconic places like the Empire State Building and Central Park are known everywhere in the world due to New York being one of the most filmed locations. Think of the last several American films you’ve seen and chances are at least one of them is set in New York. Here is a selection of movies featuring the great city:
Taxi Driver (1976)
The film is set in New York City following the Vietnam War and is regularly cited as one of the greatest films of all time. Taxi Driver is a neo-noir psychological thriller film, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader, and it was nominated for four Academy Awards. It won the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes festival and it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1994.
Travis Bickle (Robert de Niro) is a discharged U.S. Marine suffering from depression and loneliness, who becomes a taxi driver to cope with his chronic insomnia. Another occupation of the 26-year-old at night is going to porn theaters, a location where he also takes Betsy, a campaign volunteer, for their first date. He is constantly thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated in a cesspool and he thinks he knows everything that is wrong and right with mankind. After the incident with Betsy who leaves from the porn theater alone in shock, he turns his attention towards saving a child prostitute.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
The sequel to Home Alone, this comedy film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister and Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the Wet Bandits. This time Kevin gets lost from his family again – his parents and siblings reach their destination, Florida, while Kevin takes the wrong plane and ends up in New York City. He uses his father’s credit card to stay at the Plaza Hotel, but he soon meets the Wet Bandits and has to run away and out-prank them again.
Kevin’s family travels to New York after tracking his whereabouts based on the credit card and his mother, Kate, searches the city for Kevin. The kid goes to his uncle Rob’s townhouse and finds it vacant due to renovation work, so he goes to Central Park instead where he befriends the pigeon lady. After many adventures, Kevin and his mother reunite in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Kate goes there after remembering her son’s fondness for Christmas Trees. The film’s critical reception was poorer compared to the original installment of the series, and some voices criticized Home Alone 2 for using too much cartoon violence duplicated as live-action attempts.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
You’ve Got Mail is a romantic comedy-drama about two people who dislike each other but develop an online romance on email. Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) are business rivals – he is a ruthless businessman belonging to the Fox Books chain of mega bookstores, and she is the owner of an independent bookstore called Shop Around the Corner, that her mother ran before her. The opening of a new Fox Book store in the neighborhood threatens to take Kathleen out of business, and she fights with all her strength to remain on the book store market and take further her mother’s legacy. Meanwhile, she unwittingly falls in love over the Internet, without knowing NY152’s real identity.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Based on the novel by Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s portrays the naïve and eccentric socialite Holly Golightly who becomes interested in a young man called Paul who has moved into her apartment building. The two develop a strange relationship, through Holly’s endless parties and visits at the Sing Sing prison where she needs to deliver the “weather report” to an incarcerated mobster. Soon, Paul finds out from Holly’s estranged husband that her real name is Lula Mae Barnes, and even more shockingly, that she plans to marry another man for his money. However, this doesn’t happen and the two spend the night together. After some other misunderstandings, Paul moves out and their connection is lost.
At the end of the film, Paul confronts Holly about his love and her behavior and leaves her. After a decision making moment, Holly goes out of the cab looking for Paul and her cat, and they eventually share a kiss. The most memorable scene in the film must the opening, however, when Holly (Audrey Hepburn), emerges from a taxi at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York City and looks into the shop’s windows. Hepburn as Holly is considered one of the most iconic images of the 20th century American cinema, with her hair in high chignon and carrying an oversized cigarette holder.
American Psycho (2000)
American Psycho is a black comedy horror film starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Chloë Sevigny, Josh Lucas, Cara Seymour, Samantha Mathis, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2000, and was a financial success, with critics praising Christian Bale’s performance in the leading role and the screenplay. The action is set in 1987 in New York, and revolves around a wealthy investment banker, Patrick Bateman, who is living a life of luxury. The rage caused by the superiority of a co-worker determines Bateman to commit his first crime – a homeless man and his dog. He also murders the co-worker whose business card was superior, Paul, and continues his diabolic actions by attempting to kill two prostitutes, another colleague, his secretary, and by actually killing several other women. In spite of confessing his murders to Harold, his lawyer, he doesn’t get the punishment he deserves after the lawyer takes this confession as a joke.
New York has been the setting for thousands of movie productions and will continue to remain the filmmakers’ choice in the future as well; what movies set in New York have you enjoyed?