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50 Greatest New York Movies

Planet Of The Apes (1968)

The beauty of Planet Of The Apes is you don’t even realise it’s set in a collapsed future New York. You spend the entire film assuming we’re on a distant planet where something really wrong has happened evolutionarily, then BAM! Charlton Heston stumbles across the Statue of Liberty… As endings go, it’s hard to beat.

The Avengers (2012)

What happens when superheroes meet New York? Massive-scale destruction, of course. Most of Joss Whedon’s colourful tag-team action movie takes place elsewhere, but the final battle is all about ripping New York a new one. It's Bayhem but better.

Shame (2011)

Director Steve McQueen looks into New York’s heart and finds it troubled, secretively hoarding the likes of Brendan (Michael Fassbender) - lonely, confused souls staggering around in the fug of the city. The tracking shot of Fassbender jogging alone through the twilight streets is pure magic.

Mean Streets (1973)

The film’s official poster said it all – a smoking gun squeezed into a paranoramic view of New York city. In Scorsese’s phenomenal gangster epic, the streets themselves are completely inseparable from the crimes that are committed there – they literally breed crime. Naturally, it has to be New York.

Do The Right Thing (1989)

Spike Lee does for African American cinema what James Cameron did for 3D, giving film a kick up the backside with this powerful drama. As a portrait of ethnicity-related tension in NYC, it’s insurmountable, and Lee shot the whole thing in Brooklyn, meaning this feels as much like a documentary as it does a feature film.

The Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)

Forget Mad Men , this is a tale of New York ad-men from that very era, providing fascinating insight into the daily lives of working class Noo Yorkers. Booze flows, girls enter and leave on a rotating door, and hot young start-ups snap at the heels of their superiors.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Big cities breed lonely weirdos, and Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is exactly that – lost in a sea of strangers. Nobody even notices he’s a man on the edge. For Scorsese, the NY streets are a place filled with danger, but also ragged colour.

King Kong (1933)

Sure, Peter Jackson’s remake looked beautiful, and he captured the horrific thrill of that final Empire State Building monkey hunt with considerable style. But the 1933 film got there first, and remains a must-see classic – not least because its final 20 minutes are set in the Big Apple, where some pretty big stuff goes down.

Manhattan (1979)

A celluloid love letter to the city herself, courtesy Woody Allen. What Allen does here is pure poetry in motion, not least that rapturous opening, in which we’re treated to shots of the city by dusk and dawn as Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’ swells on the soundtrack. We just fell in love all over again.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Now this is what New York’s about – battling unholy horrors that variously manifest in your fridge, at the top of skyscrapers, and then possess the giant form of the Stay Puft man. Ivan Reitman’s comedy horror brilliantly captures the city’s split personality, and makes awesome use of New York’s myriad locations. Top dollar.