Gritty, Grimey New York City - Early 70's to Mid 80'sby dr.gonzo-4 | created - 11 Nov 2012 | updated - 14 Nov 2012 | Public
A list of movies filmed on location on the streets of NYC circa 1970 - 1985. It started off as a topic in the recommendations message board and I decided to make a list out of it so others could enjoy this troubled part of NYC's past. The movies range from straight-up classics (The French Connection) to straight-up nonsense (1990 Bronx Warriors), but they all share one unique characteristic: a gritty, grimey atmosphere that can't be reproduced on a Hollywood soundstage. Enjoy.
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1. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
R | 113 min | Drama
A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend.
Votes: 83,695 | Gross: $44.79M
Even though this was filmed pre-1970, I had to include it.
4. Fort Apache the Bronx (1981)
R | 125 min | Crime, Drama
In New York, South Bronx's main police precinct is nicknamed Fort Apache by its employees who feel like troopers surrounded by hostiles in a wild west isolated outpost.
Votes: 4,795 | Gross: $29.20M
9. Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
R | 97 min | Action, Comedy
Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips ... See full summary »
10. Claudine (1974)
PG | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
In the 1970s Harlem, garbage collector Roop feels intimidated by the idea of dating Claudine who is a single mother of six on welfare.
12. Three the Hard Way (1974)
R | 89 min | Action, Thriller
The story involves a white supremist plot to taint the United States water supply with a toxin that is harmless to whites but lethal to blacks. The only obstacles that stand in the way of ... See full summary »
15. Marathon Man (1976)
R | 125 min | Crime, Thriller
A graduate history student is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent.
Votes: 49,020 | Gross: $21.71M
16. Serpico (1973)
R | 130 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
An honest New York cop named Frank Serpico blows the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him.
Votes: 89,113 | Gross: $29.80M
18. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it's paid, how could they get away?
19. Black Caesar (1973)
R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his ... See full summary »
22. Report to the Commissioner (1975)
PG | 112 min | Crime, Drama
Police officer Patty Butler, alias "Chicklet," is the live-in girlfriend of Thomas 'Stick' Henderson to gather evidence. Detective Bo Lockley is instructed to try to find her, not knowing she's also a cop.
23. Shaft's Big Score! (1972)
R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Shaft is back to find the murderer of an old friend on the cold hard city streets with a little help from his new friends.
Votes: 2,069 | Gross: $10.00M
24. Taxi Driver (1976)
R | 114 min | Crime, Drama
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.
Votes: 575,652 | Gross: $28.26M
25. They Might Be Giants (1971)
G | 98 min | Mystery, Comedy, Romance
In a Manhattan psychiatric hospital a man, convinced he is Sherlock Holmes, is treated by a female doctor who happens to be named Watson.
26. The Warriors (1979)
R | 92 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
In the near future, a charismatic leader summons the street gangs of New York City in a bid to take it over. When he is killed, The Warriors are falsely blamed and now must fight their way home while every other gang is hunting them down.
Votes: 78,961 | Gross: $22.49M
27. Wild Style (1983)
R | 82 min | Drama, Music
Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between Zoro's passion for his art and his personal life, particularly his ... See full summary »
28. Night of the Juggler (1980)
R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A tough, New York City ex-cop relentlessly searches for his kidnapped teenage daughter whom is held by a twisted psycho after mistaking her for the daughter of a wealthy businessman.
29. Cruising (1980)
R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A police detective goes undercover in the underground S&M gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer who is preying on gay men.
Votes: 14,721 | Gross: $19.80M
32. Beat Street (1984)
PG | 105 min | Drama, Music
An aspiring DJ, from the South Bronx, and his best friend, a promoter, try to get into show business by exposing people to hip-hop music and culture.
Votes: 2,878 | Gross: $16.60M
33. 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)
R | 89 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In a post-apocalyptic New York City, a policeman infiltrates the Bronx, which has become a battleground for several murderous street gangs.
34. South Bronx Heroes (1985)
R | 85 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
A young man just released from prison and living with his sister crosses paths with two children, also brother and sister, who are on the run from their child pornographer foster parents.
36. Death Wish (1974)
R | 93 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A New York City architect becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is murdered by street punks in which he randomly goes out and kills would-be muggers on the mean streets after dark.
Votes: 28,063 | Gross: $22.00M
38. After Hours (1985)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
An ordinary word processor has the worst night of his life after he agrees to visit a girl in Soho whom he met that evening at a coffee shop.
Votes: 45,086 | Gross: $10.60M
39. Prince of the City (1981)
R | 167 min | Crime, Drama
A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.
Votes: 5,792 | Gross: $8.12M
40. The Driller Killer (1979)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
An artist slowly goes insane while struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings, and care for his two female roommates, which leads him taking to the streets of New York after dark and randomly killing derelicts with a power drill.
41. Ms .45 (1981)
R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.
42. The Brother from Another Planet (1984)
R | 108 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi
A mute alien with the appearance of a black human is chased by outer-space bounty hunters through the streets of Harlem.
Votes: 4,889 | Gross: $3.70M
43. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
R | 118 min | Drama, Music
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life.
Votes: 59,499 | Gross: $94.21M
49. The Seven-Ups (1973)
PG | 103 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A tough detective who is part of an elite New York City unit is trying to find out who killed his partner, but uncovers a plot to kidnap mobsters for money.
52. Fingers (1978)
R | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Music
A dysfunctional young man is pulled between loyalties to his Italian mob-connected loan shark father and his mentally disturbed Jewish concert pianist mother.
53. Gloria (1980)
PG | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York.
54. Maniac (1980)
R | 87 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
A psychopath, troubled by his childhood abuse, loose in New York City, kills young women and takes their scalps as his trophies. Will he find the perfect woman in a photographer, and end his killing spree?
55. The Exterminator (1980)
R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Drama
A man's best friend is killed on the streets of New York. The man (Robert Ginty) then transforms into a violent killer, turning New York into a great war zone and Christopher George is the only one to stop him.
56. Downtown 81 (1981)
Unrated | 72 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
The film is a day in the life of a young artist, Jean Michel Basquiat, who needs to raise money to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. He wanders the downtown streets ... See full summary »
Votes: 891 | Gross: $0.10M
57. Nighthawks (1981)
R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
Conservative street cop DaSilva reluctantly agrees to terminate an international terrorist who has demanded media attention. But DaSilva's "at-home" tactics are very much put to the challenge.
Votes: 13,792 | Gross: $14.91M
58. Night Shift (1982)
R | 106 min | Comedy
A morgue attendant is talked into running a brothel at his workplace after a deceased pimp is sent there. However, the pimp's killers don't look too kindly on this new 'business', nor does the morgue's owner.
Votes: 11,987 | Gross: $23.60M
60. Liquid Sky (1982)
R | 112 min | Sci-Fi
Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual ... See full summary »
61. Vigilante (1982)
R | 90 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
When his wife and son are brutalized by thugs and a corrupt criminal justice system puts the perpetrators back on the street, a New York City factory worker turns vigilante to find some measure of bloody justice.
63. C.H.U.D. (1984)
R | 88 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A bizarre series of sudden disappearances on the streets of New York City seems to point toward something unsavory living in the sewers.
Votes: 8,422 | Gross: $4.65M
65. Mixed Blood (1984)
98 min | Action, Drama
Brazilian drug dealers in the lower east side of Manhattan start a war with a rival gang of Latino drug dealers. Their soldiers are Latino kids all under 17 because, as Rita La Punta says, ... See full summary »
67. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama
A bored suburban housewife, seeking escape from her life, suffers amnesia after an accident, wakes up, and is mistaken for a free-spirited New York City drifter named Susan.
Votes: 17,773 | Gross: $27.40M
68. Turk 182! (1985)
PG-13 | 102 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
Jimmy Lynch is angry because his older brother, who was injured as a result of an off duty fire rescue, is denied benefits by the city. At the same time, Mayor Tyler is embroiled in a ... See full summary »
Votes: 3,245 | Gross: $3.59M
69. The Last Dragon (1985)
PG-13 | 109 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
In New York City, a young man searches for the "master" to obtain the final level of martial arts mastery known as the glow. Along the way, he must fight a martial arts expert corrupted ... See full summary »
Votes: 10,398 | Gross: $25.75M
70. Krush Groove (1985)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
In this movie based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings, up-and-coming manager Russell Walker manages all the hottest acts on the record label Krush Groove Records, which include ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,546 | Gross: $11.05M
72. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)
PG-13 | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
An officially "dead" cop is trained to become an extraordinarily unique assassin in service of the US president.