Magazine article Variety

The 10 Best Movies Set in New York

Magazine article Variety

The 10 Best Movies Set in New York

Article excerpt

1 Manhattan (1979)

"Annie Hall" was Woody Allen's quintessential New York valentine, but "Manhattan" remains his crowning New York masterpiece: the most ravishing love poem to the city ever made, a bedazzling effusion of blackand-white streetscapes and Gershwin swoons that define the city's heart as something classic yet ever-changing. It's a place of hypnotic beauty, but at its center is the sound of wistfully ambitious, high-strung people caught in a conversation that never ends - and that, the movie says, will always be the pulse of New York.

[2 Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Starting in the late '40s, films like "The Naked City" were ramping up the use of New York locations in Hollywood productions. But none caught the flavor of the city like this uniquely propulsive tabloid noir, a movie that seems to make the gutter glitter. "I love this dirty town!" says Burt Lancaster's Walter Winchell-like columnist, and in the war between Lancaster and a sleazy press agent (Tony Curtis), the film captures the acrid edge of gossip in a way that looks ahead to our era.

3 Midnight Cowboy (1969)

The biggest city in the world can also be the loneliest, and no movie taps the quiet desolation beneath the midtown hurly-burly like "Midnight Cowboy," a New Hollywood classic about two lost souls - Dustin Hoffman's scrounging Ratso Rizzo and Jon Voight's deluded stud Joe Buck - who find each other because they have no one else.

4 Rear Window (1954)

The genius of Alfred Hitchcock's voyeuristic thriller is that the entire film is restricted to a single Greenwich Village apartment and its adjoining courtyard. Yet as James Stewart's laid-up photographer looks into his neighbor's windows, he literally sees their lives unfold - everything from banal exercise rituals to murder - and that makes "Rear Window" the first, and still greatest, movie to capture the peeping paradox of New York City life: the fact that you're in your own space, but also in everyone else's.

5 Paris Is Burning (1990)

Jennie Livingston's extraordinary documentary ushered viewers into an insular world of riveting exoticism: the "ball culture" demimonde of inner-city African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender dreamers trying to vogue their way to transcendence. Twenty-six years later, their life-is-a-drag passion looks more than ever like a revolutionary way of seeing - a through-the-lookingglass ethos of reality being what you make it that could have emerged only out of the mercurial heart of New York City. …

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