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Escape from New York (1981)

R | | Action, Sci-Fi | 10 July 1981 (USA)
2:30 | Trailer

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In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.


2,242 ( 104)
4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Taylor (scenes deleted)
Frank Doubleday ...
John Strobel ...
Gypsy #1 (as John Cothran Jr.)
Garrett Bergfeld ...
Gypsy #2


In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane. See more »


Action | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escape from New York City  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$25,244,700 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Extended Version)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The opening narration and the computer's voice in the first prison scene is provided by an uncredited Jamie Lee Curtis. See more »


The scene at the train station is clearly not in New York. The city's two rail stations, Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal both have their tracks located below ground level. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards ...
See more »


References New American Bandstand 1965 (1952) See more »


Bandstand Boogie
Music by Charles Albertine
Courtesy of Cherio Corporation
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

" Hi Snake, . . . I heard you were dead!"
30 June 2007 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Many fans of Kurt Russell were extremely surprised he emerged from his years as a child actor to evolve into a believable, hard hitting, action hero. True, he was traditionally recognized to many for his whimsical, good-looks and high school persona. Thus when movie-goers saw him in this film, many stood aghast at his mature tenor. This futuristic story begins with the President's plane being high-jacked by rebel extremists and flown into the island city of New York which has been transformed into a maximum prison. The plane with the president (Donald Pleasence) on board crashes into the prison and it falls to the warden/Police Commissioner, one, Bob Hauk, (Lee Van Cleef) to rescue the chief executive. His plan? To send in a new convict, an experienced ex-soldier and special ops veteran, named, Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) with the promise of a presidential pardon if he can return him alive. To insure the clever criminal does not take the opportunity to escape, he is given a lethal injection which can only be removed by the commissioner's medical staff. Thus, begins a timely drama which means life or death for the hero, the president and ultimately the world. The success of this film owes much to the film's other characters like the talkative Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine, terrific acting), Harold ' Brain' Helman (Harry Dean Stanton), his 'squeeze' Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) and Isaac Hayes, who plays the heavy, The Duke of New York. This a groundbreaking film for Russell and as expected, he carries it to it's rave conclusion with action to spare. ****

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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