Movies by State: New York

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Photo (c) D.G. McCabe

Movies by State: New York

Movies by State is back!  And you thought I forgot about this ambitious project?  Well not so much, it’s just that it’s summer and an ambitious blog series isn’t really a warm weather activity.

Outside of California, and maybe even including California, New York City is the most common setting for American movies.  Being from a part of New York State that’s far from New York City, however, I’d like to start with non-NYC movies and take it from there.

Non-NYC Movies

Western New York (Buffalo), Central New York (Syracuse), Northern New York (The Adirondacks), Long Island, and the Hudson Valley Region don’t get nearly as much Hollywood attention as New York City.  Bruce Almighty (2003) is one of the few recent films set in Buffalo, The Express (2008) and Snow Day (2000) represent Syracuse, and Last of the Mohicans (1992) is set in the Adirondacks.  Of course, the most pivotal scenes in Miracle (2004) are set in Lake Placid.

Long Island and the Hudson Valley region get a little bit more notice from our friends in the film industry.  Long Island is of course the setting of the Amityville Horror and The Hamptons get a starring role in Something’s Gotta Give (2003) among other movies.  The Hudson Valley is the setting of The Word According to Garp (1982) and Regarding Henry (1991).

New York City Films

There are too many films set in New York City to really do a couple of paragraphs of justice.  Since this is a blog, you don’t have all day to read a bunch of ramblings either.  But what is New York City to five of film’s greatest directors?  In alphabetical order:

Woody Allen

Allen is most comfortable when he gets to describe interactions between highly educated New Yorkers.  Allen’s New York is one of museums and dysfunctional relationships – so think Central Park North.

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin’s New York is a kind of dirty, kind of sleazy, kind of funny place.  There are immigrants and millionaires, kids and tramps, and although it is sometimes not named, Chaplin’s New York is a magnificent stage – so think Midtown.

Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather (1972) is the greatest American film, and Coppola skillfully uses the bustling immigrant communities of the Old City as a backdrop to his tale of the corrosive seduction of evil – mostly old Little Italy.

Spike Lee

Brooklyn, 1989.  It’s a hot day, too hot for pretending anymore.  Pretending like we all get along and there aren’t problems in our cities and our neighborhoods.  Sure that’s the setting of his most notable film, but Lee paints this all too familiar picture throughout his body of work.

Martin Scorsese

New York is Scorsese’s muse.  It would be unfair to take any section of the city and use it as an analogy for his films, most of which examine issues of violence and masculinity in American society.  No one director has portrayed the city in as many great films as Scorsese has.

Next Up – The Southeast

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe