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50 Greatest New York Movies

Wall-E (2008)

Poor old Wall-E. He’s been left clearing up everybody else's rubbish in the year 2805, trash-compacting in a New York that's turned into a massive garbage heap. Literally. Seems a bit extreme, but we can totally see this happening. That’s if Skynet doesn’t take over first, of course.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

New York provides a suitably misanthropic/deceitful backdrop in Bryan Singer’s helter-skelter neo-noir. Attempting to figure out the twist in the tale is almost as impossible as hailing a New York taxicab – and that’s just the way it should be.

The Godfather (1972)

Both this first crime epic and its sequel deliver the goods when it comes to New York, delving into distinct eras of massive gangster activity. And just in case you were worried, that tollbooth is near Point Lookout on the Jones Beach Causeway. We’d steer clear of it.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Another day, another bank heist in New York City. Sidney Lumet directs a riveting Al Pacino, who attempts to rip off a bank in order to pay for his boyfriend’s sex change. Life’s never simple when it comes to NY.

Shadows (1958)

John Cassavetes makes his dramatic debut and impresses with an intimate examination of city life. Roaming free with his camera, Cassavetes uncovers nightclubs, the Museum of Modern Art and couples falling in love on the sidewalks. Beautiful.

The French Connection (1971)

Yeah, the title’s all about a different country, but this is resolutely an NY movie. Just check out that rubber-burning car chase sequence, in which Gene Hackman screeches through the streets, only just missing pedestrians and other cars as he goes. Epic.

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Sergio Leone’s sprawling classic jumps through the ages but never loses sight of New York City, hopping through the destitute ‘20s all the way to the swinging ‘60s. Leone obviously couldn’t get enough of the city – his original cut for the film was four and a half hours long. We’d watch it.

Taking Of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)

Walter Matthau hits the mean streets as Lieutenant Zachary Garber, who’s the very best of New York grumpy – all sceptical and curmudgeonly, but also armed with a sardonic sense of humour. The consumate New Yorker.

Shaft (1971)

Harlem gets a dust down in this blaxploitation megahit, as private eye Richard Roundtree swaggers through the city picking up crims and chicks alike. Location hopping from Roundtree’s Times Square office to his Greenwich Village flat – via 125th Street – the city is its own character in Shaft. Think of it as a really big sidekick.

After Hours (1985)

Scorsese looks on the bright side, setting New York City out as a fairground ride that never stops spinning. From Soho to 14th Street, the director attempts to make sense of this most sprawling of playgrounds, inevitably giving in to the seductive hum of the city.